20 Things To Do In Banaras

Things To Do In Banaras

Welcome to Banaras, also known as Varanasi, where the timeless beauty of India flourishes at every corner. This ancient city, nestled along the banks of the Ganges River, holds a sacred spot in the heart of India’s cultural and spiritual life. If you’re planning a trip here, you’re in for a unique blend of mystical experiences, historical explorations, and vibrant cultural encounters. From the sacred ceremonies on the ghats to the bustling old city lanes, Banaras offers an array of activities that cater to the soul, the senses, and the curious mind. In this blog post, we’ll uncover the top things to do in Banaras that should be on every traveler’s list, ensuring you capture the true essence of this holy city.

Things To Do In Banaras

  1. Witness the Grandeur of the Ganga Aarti

Experience the spiritual resonance of the Ganga Aarti, an enchanting riverside ritual held at Dashashwamedh Ghat. As dusk falls, the air fills with the scent of sandalwood as priests perform this ancient ceremony. Large brass lamps are lit, and offerings of flowers and incense are set adrift on the river. The rhythmic chants and ringing bells create a mesmerizing atmosphere, drawing both locals and tourists into a shared moment of devotion. This spectacle not only offers a profound spiritual experience but also a chance to witness a centuries-old tradition that epitomizes the soul of Banaras.

  1. Explore the Old City on Foot

Take a stroll through the winding alleys of the Old City. These narrow lanes, lined with shops and street vendors, offer a sensory overload unique to Banaras. From the colorful display of silk sarees to the tantalizing aroma of fresh street food, each turn presents a new discovery. Walking through these alleys, you’ll encounter historic temples hidden away from the main streets, offering quiet moments of serenity amidst the bustling city. Exploring on foot is the best way to absorb the authentic essence of Banaras, where every corner tells a story.

  1. Visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Step into the divine aura of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most revered Hindu shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Located in the heart of the city, this temple is a beacon of faith, attracting millions of pilgrims each year. The temple’s architecture features intricate carvings and a towering spire that dominates the skyline. Inside, the sanctum sanctorum houses a sacred Jyotirlinga, making it a significant spiritual site. Visiting this temple provides not only a glimpse into devout religious practices but also an opportunity to partake in a centuries-old tradition of worship and spirituality.

  1. Boat Ride at Sunrise on the Ganges

Embark on a serene boat ride at sunrise along the Ganges. As the first rays of the sun illuminate the ghats and temples, the river comes alive with the activities of daily life. Pilgrims perform morning rituals, and children play along the banks, while boats gently row by. This tranquil experience offers not only breathtaking views but also an insight into the daily rhythm of life in Banaras. It’s a moment of peace where you can reflect on the timeless beauty of the surroundings and the enduring spirit of the Ganges.

  1. Sample Banarasi Cuisine

Indulge in the flavors of Banarasi cuisine, known for its rich spices and diverse offerings. Street food stalls and local eateries offer a variety of dishes that reflect the city’s culinary heritage. Must-try items include the savory Kachori Sabzi, sweet Jalebis, and the unique Chaat varieties. Each dish is prepared with traditional methods that have been perfected over generations, providing a taste of Banaras’ gastronomic excellence. Dining here is not just about eating; it’s an exploration of flavors that tell the story of Banaras through every bite.

  1. Attend a Classical Music Concert

Immerse yourself in the soul-stirring melodies of a classical music concert. Banaras is renowned as a center for Indian classical music, with legends such as Ravi Shankar hailing from this city. Attend a live performance, often held in old havelis or by the ghats, where you can experience the haunting beauty of the sitar and the rhythmic beats of the tabla. These concerts are a deep dive into the city’s artistic heritage, offering an auditory journey through the classical ragas that are said to echo the very essence of India.

  1. Shop for Banarasi Silk Saris

Explore the rich tradition of Banarasi silk weaving. Banaras is famous worldwide for its exquisite silk saris, which are a staple in every Indian bride’s trousseau. Visit the weavers’ colonies where you can watch artisans create these magnificent saris on traditional looms. The intricate designs and opulent embroidery make each piece a work of art. Shopping for a Banarasi sari not only lets you own a piece of Indian heritage but also supports the local artisans who preserve this ancient craft.

  1. Discover Sarnath

Take a short trip to Sarnath, where Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Just 10 kilometers from Banaras, Sarnath hosts several ancient Buddhist monuments and a modern museum. The Dhamek Stupa and the Ashoka Pillar are significant highlights, representing important historical and spiritual sites. This peaceful town offers a contrast to the bustling lanes of Banaras and is a must-visit for history enthusiasts and spiritual seekers alike.

  1. Enjoy the Evening at Assi Ghat

Relax and unwind at Assi Ghat during the evening. This ghat is one of the liveliest in the city, known for its cultural activities and the daily performance of the Ganga Aarti. You can sit by the steps, watch the sunset, and enjoy performances by local artists. The atmosphere here is vibrant, with the blend of music, art, and the spiritual chants creating a captivating experience. It’s a perfect spot to reflect on the day’s adventures and mingle with both locals and tourists.

  1. Visit Ramnagar Fort

Explore the historical Ramnagar Fort, located across the river from Banaras. Built in the 18th century, this fort is the ancestral home of the Maharaja of Banaras. The fort houses a museum displaying a collection of royal artifacts, vintage cars, and an impressive weaponry hall. The architecture of the fort offers a glimpse into the regal lifestyle of the past, and its location provides scenic views of the Ganges. Visiting Ramnagar Fort is a wonderful way to step back in time and explore the historical aspects of the region.

  1. Explore the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum

Discover the treasures of Indian art at the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum located within the Banaras Hindu University campus. This museum houses a remarkable collection of miniature paintings, sculptures, and local artifacts that narrate the history and culture of the region. The galleries also showcase intricate jewelry, textiles, and rare manuscripts that reflect the rich artistic heritage of India. Visiting Bharat Kala Bhavan is a must for art lovers and history buffs, offering a deeper understanding of India’s diverse cultural tapestry.

  1. Take a Yoga Class on the Ghats

Participate in a rejuvenating yoga session on the banks of the Ganges. Early mornings at the ghats provide a serene backdrop for practicing yoga. Local ashrams and several ghats offer daily yoga classes, where you can stretch and meditate while watching the sunrise over the river. This experience not only promotes physical well-being but also offers spiritual enrichment, aligning with the holistic lifestyle that Banaras embodies.

  1. Visit the Manikarnika Ghat

Witness the profound rituals at Manikarnika Ghat, the primary cremation ghat in Banaras. While this may not be for everyone, visiting Manikarnika offers a unique insight into the deeply spiritual aspects of Hindu beliefs regarding life, death, and rebirth. The eternal fires that burn here symbolize the perpetual cycle of life and offer a poignant reflection on mortality and the afterlife.

  1. Attend the Banaras Utsav

Experience the vibrant Banaras Utsav, a festival celebrating the cultural heritage of the city with music, dance, and theatrical performances. Held annually, this festival brings together renowned artists and performers from across the country. The festival also includes exhibitions, workshops, and food stalls, showcasing the local crafts and culinary delights of Banaras. It’s a festive time to visit, allowing tourists to experience the city’s dynamic cultural scene in full swing.

  1. Take a Culinary Tour

Embark on a culinary tour of the city to savor the diverse flavors of Banarasi cuisine. These guided tours take you through various food stalls and markets where you can try local delicacies such as pani puri, samosas, and lassi. Each stop introduces different aspects of Banaras’s food culture, from street food vendors to traditional sweets makers. This is a delicious way to explore the city and engage with local life.

  1. Attend a Literature Festival

Join the Banaras Literature Festival to engage with some of India’s finest literary minds. This event gathers authors, poets, and thinkers from around the country and the world to discuss literature, politics, society, and culture. The festival features book readings, panel discussions, and interactive sessions, providing attendees with a unique opportunity to dive into the vibrant intellectual life of India and connect with creative individuals.

  1. Explore the Tulsi Manas Temple

Visit the Tulsi Manas Temple, which holds a special place in the hearts of many due to its historical and cultural significance. This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama and is built at the place where Tulsidas wrote the Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas. The walls of the temple are inscribed with verses and scenes from this sacred text, offering a visual and spiritual journey through the epic. The serene ambiance of the temple provides a peaceful retreat from the bustling city streets.

  1. Enjoy Bird Watching at Chunar Fort

Take a trip to Chunar Fort for a bird-watching expedition. Located near Banaras, Chunar Fort offers scenic views and a quieter environment, ideal for observing a variety of local and migratory birds. The fort itself is steeped in legends and history, providing an interesting exploration spot after a morning of bird watching. This activity combines natural beauty with historical exploration, suitable for families and nature enthusiasts alike.

  1. Participate in a Workshop on Banarasi Sari Weaving

Learn the art of Banarasi sari weaving through a hands-on workshop. Many local organizations and artisans offer workshops that allow visitors to try their hand at weaving and understand the intricacies involved in making a Banarasi sari. These workshops not only provide a deeper appreciation of this ancient craft but also support local artisans by bringing awareness to their skills and traditions.

  1. Explore the Ghats by Night

Experience the ghats of Banaras by night on a guided tour. The ghats, each with their own stories and significance, are beautifully illuminated after dark, creating a mesmerizing ambiance. A guided night walk reveals the quieter, more mystical side of Banaras, with the lights reflecting off the Ganges and the sound of evening prayers filling the air. This tour offers a different perspective of the ghats, contrasting the vibrant daytime hustle with the peaceful, contemplative atmosphere of the night.


Exploring Banaras is like walking through a living museum, where every corner tells a story and every experience enriches your spirit. Whether you’re attending the soul-stirring Ganga Aarti, wandering through the historic lanes, or indulging in the culinary delights, the city offers endless opportunities to connect with the past and present of India’s rich heritage. The things to do in Banaras listed in this guide are just the beginning of what you can explore in this extraordinary city. Each visit here promises new insights, serene moments, and a deep connection to the spiritual and cultural tapestry that makes Banaras truly unforgettable. Pack your bags and prepare to immerse yourself in the captivating charm of Banaras, a city that never ceases to amaze its visitors.

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