Best things to do in Varanasi in 3 days and 4 days itinerary

Sharing is caring!

I travelled from Delhi to Varanasi for a 4 days trip by overnight train. My train arrived in Varanasi on time, As I stepped off the train in Varanasi, I was immediately hit by the energy of the city and was immediately struck by the chaos and noise of the city. I took an autorickshaw from the station to my place of stay. On the way streets were filled with honking rickshaws, bustling pedestrians, and the smells of street food missed with incense.

It was my second trip to Varanasi and last time I visited during the Dev Diwali. During my first trip I stayed 3 days to visit the places in Varanasi and 1 day to experience Dev Diwali. This time I stayed there for 4 nights to visit the best places in Varanasi.Dashashwamedh Ghat Varanasi

Brief introduction of Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Banaras or Kashi, is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and is considered to be one of the holiest cities in India. Varanasi is situated on the banks of the river Ganges and is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva, according to Hindu mythology.

Varanasi has a rich cultural and religious heritage, and is famous for its temples, ghats, and vibrant street life. It has been a center of learning and spirituality for centuries and has attracted pilgrims, scholars, and tourists from all over the world.

Varanasi is renowned for its spiritual and religious significance, and it is believed that a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges here can cleanse one’s sins and lead to salvation. The city has over 2,000 temples and shrines, including the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The ghats of Varanasi are also an important part of the city’s cultural heritage. There are over 80 ghats along the river Ganges, and they are used for religious ceremonies, bathing, and cremation. The most famous of these ghats are the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Assi Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat.

Varanasi is also famous for its silk sarees, which are hand-woven and intricately designed. The city has a rich history of music, dance, and literature, and is home to several famous artists and musicians.

Overall, Varanasi is a city that is steeped in history, culture, and spirituality. Its vibrant street life, rich heritage, and religious significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the cultural diversity of India.

There is a famous saying among travellers that “Either you love Varanasi or you hate Varanasi” and I love Varanasi, I love everything about it. It’s mystic, its spiritual and Varanasi is one those places on the earth where life and death are equally celebrated.

Varanasi is complex yet simple, it’s a feeling and everyone who visits have different experience. Varanasi

Places to visit in Varanasi and must do things in 3 to 4 days

Visit the temples of Varanasi for spiritual experience

Varanasi is home to numerous temples that hold great religious significance. Here are some of the prominent temples in Varanasi:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple: Located in the heart of Varanasi, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most sacred and revered Hindu temples in India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and attracts millions of devotees each year. It is one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Cameras, mobile phones and bags are not allowed inside the temple so carry a small pouch (to carry the cash and cards).Kashi Vishwanath temple

Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple: Situated near the Assi Ghat, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is believed that praying at this temple helps alleviate problems and grants peace and prosperity. Mobile phones and bags are not allowed inside the temple so carry a small pouch (to carry the cash and cards). Sankat Mochan temple Varanasi

Durga Temple (Durga Kund Temple): This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is located near the Durga Kund (pond). It is known for its vibrant red color and elaborate architecture. During the Navratri festival, the temple comes alive with celebrations.

Durga temple Varanasi

Kaal Bhairav Temple: The Kaal Bhairav Temple is dedicated to Lord Bhairav, a fierce form of Lord Shiva. It is believed to be one of the oldest temples in Varanasi and is known for its distinctive rituals and offerings. The temple attracts devotees seeking protection from malevolent forces. Also popularly known as “Kotwal” of Kashi.Kal Bhairav mandir Varanasi

The Annapurna Temple in Varanasi is a significant religious site dedicated to Goddess Annapurna, the Hindu goddess of food. Temple is situated in the Vishwanath Gali area of Varanasi, which is in close proximity to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple now in temple complex.

Read more about the Temples of Varanasi.

Take a morning Boat ride on Ganges

Taking a morning boat ride on the Ganges River in Varanasi is a serene and enchanting experience. It allows you to witness the city come alive, immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance, and observe the rituals along the ghats.

After attending morning aarti at Assi Ghat, take a boat ride. Since Assi is the first ghat in a series of 88 ghats on Ganga, so it makes practical sense to start from here.

You can witness the early morning rituals, including devotees offering prayers, and engaging in yoga or meditation along the riverfront. The boat ride allows you to get a closer look at the different ghats of Varanasi.

Remember to dress modestly and respectfully, covering your shoulders and knees, as Varanasi is a sacred place. It’s recommended to negotiate the fare in advance.Morning boat ride in Ganga at Varanasi

See the circle of life and death on Ghats

Varanasi offers a unique perspective on the circle of life and death through its ghats. The ghats along the river Ganges are not only places of worship but also witness the rituals and customs associated with life and death.

Devotees gather at the ghats to perform morning rituals, offer prayers, and seek blessings from the sacred river Ganga. Pilgrims come from far and wide to take a holy dip in the river, seeking spiritual liberation and the blessings of Mother Ganga.

Witnessing the last rites being performed on the ghats is a powerful and humbling experience. It is a reminder of the impermanence of life and the importance of spiritual contemplation. People taking bath in Ganga Varanasi

Walk from Assi Ghat to Rajendra Prasad Ghat

If you have time in hand and you are ready to walk then walking from Assi Ghat to Rajendra Prasad Ghat in Varanasi offers a delightful opportunity to explore the ancient and vibrant city on foot.

It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes, carry drinking water, and be mindful of the surroundings and local customs while walking through the ghats of Varanasi.

Read more about The Ghats of Varanasi.

Visit Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat

The Ghats where funeral pyre burning from thousand years.
A visit to Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat in Varanasi offers a profound and unique glimpse into the ancient tradition of Hindu cremation rituals. These ghats have been witnessing funeral pyres burning for centuries and hold significant cultural and religious importance.

Manikarnika Ghat is perpetually active, with funeral rituals taking place day and night. The atmosphere is solemn, and the sounds and smells associated with cremation may be present. The rituals are performed according to ancient Hindu traditions, with families and priests conducting the last rites to facilitate the soul’s journey to the afterlife.Manikarnika Ghat Varanasi

It is believed that cremation at this ghat ensures moksha (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation), making it a significant destination for those seeking spiritual emancipation.

Harishchandra Ghat is another important cremation ghat in Varanasi. It is named after King Harishchandra, a mythological figure renowned for his adherence to truth and righteousness. The ghat is associated with tales of King Harishchandra’s sacrifices and his unwavering dedication to his principles.Harish Chander Ghat Varanasi

Visiting these Ghats allows you to witness the rituals and traditions associated with death and the cycle of life in Hinduism. It is recommended to approach these ghats with sensitivity, understanding, and reverence for the cultural practices and beliefs being observed.

While these ghats offer a unique insight into Hindu funeral customs and the circle of life, it is important to respect the privacy and solemnity of the rituals. Visitors are advised to maintain a respectful distance and refrain from taking photographs or engaging in intrusive behaviour.

Checkout the newly built Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

The Kashi Vishwanath Corridor has transformed the area around the Kashi Vishwanath temple. This corridor created a clean, organized, and pedestrian-friendly passage from Lalita Ghat at Ganga River till main temple. There is a food court and waiting area with modern amenities for devotees and tourists.

Mobile phones and small cameras are allowed inside the corridor complex. Big bags and laptop bags are not allowed by the security at the entry points. Kashi Vishwanath corridor Varanasi

Explore the narrow by lanes of Varanasi to get the real feel of Kashi

The by lanes of Varanasi are a labyrinthine network of narrow streets and alleys that weave through the heart of the city. These are referred as “gallis,” are the lifelines of Varanasi, offering a glimpse into the vibrant local culture.

Navigating the by lanes of Varanasi can be an adventure in itself, as they can be crowded and maze-like. It’s advisable to wear comfortable footwear and embrace the spirit of exploration. Let the by lanes of Varanasi lead you to the unforgettable experiences and unravel the true essence of this timeless city. Lanes of Varanasi

Attend a morning Ganga aarti at Assi Ghat

The morning Ganga Aarti usually takes place before sunrise, around dawn. The exact timing may vary depending on the time of year and sunrise. It’s advisable to check in advance for the accurate timing of the Aarti.

The Aarti begins with the chanting of sacred hymns and mantras by the school girls. Whole aarti is done with the live singing of mantras and this is only Ganga aarti which is performed this way. The priests perform various ritual offerings to the river Ganges.Morning Ganga aarti at Assi Ghat Varanasi

Attend an evening Ganga aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat

Attending the evening Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi is a captivating experience that showcases the vibrant energy and devotion of the city. The evening Ganga Aarti takes place after sunset, around dusk. The exact timing varies depending on the time of year and sunset. It’s advisable to check with the locals for the accurate timing of the Aarti.

As the evening approaches, devotees and visitors start gathering at Dashashwamedh Ghat. The ghat becomes alive with the hustle and bustle of people, priests, preparing for the Aarti. The steps of the ghat are decorated with flowers, oil lamps, and incense.

The Aarti is led by a group of skilled and well-coordinated priests who perform the elaborate ceremony. They line up at the edge of the ghat, facing the Ganges. The Aarti begins with the blowing of conch shells, accompanied by the rhythmic beating of drums and the chiming of bells. Ganga Aarti at Varanasi Ghat

To witness the Aarti from a different perspective, you can also opt to view it from a boat on the Ganges. Many boat operators offer guided tours during the Aarti, allowing you to witness the ceremony from the water.

It’s advisable to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot and respect the customs and traditions of the Aarti. Dress modestly and be prepared for large crowds.

Read more about Dev Diwali festival of Varanasi.

Visit some historically significant places and temples

If time permits then also visit these two places, which are important to the heritage and history of Varanasi.

Tulsi Manas Temple: Built in honour of the famous poet-saint Tulsidas, the Tulsi Manas Temple is known for its beautiful marble carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana. It is believed that Tulsi Dass wrote the Ramayana here. It is a popular pilgrimage site and attracts devotees and tourists alike. Shri Satya Narayan Tulsi Manas Mandir Varansi

Bharat Mata Temple: The Bharat Mata Temple is a unique temple that pays homage to Mother India (Bharat Mata). Instead of traditional deities, this temple houses a relief map of India carved out of marble. It symbolizes national unity and pays tribute to the diverse culture and heritage of India. Bharat Mata Mandir Varanasi

Visit and spend some time in Banaras Hindu University – BHU

Established in 1916 by the visionary leader and social reformer, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, BHU is one of the oldest and largest residential universities in Asia.

The Vishwanath temple inside the BHU complex is popular among locals as well as tourists. This beautiful temple’s construction is inspired by the Kashi Vishwanath temple. A small market outside the temple complex gives a glimpse of the unique sense of Varanasi. There are several food shops which provide economical and tasty food from across India. Vishwanath temple BHU campus

Visit Ramnagar fort

The Ramnagar Fort is a historical fort located on the eastern bank of the Ganges. The fort complex comprises several structures, including a palace, temple, museum, and gardens. Fort has been the residence of the royal family of Varanasi, known as the Kashi Naresh. It offers panoramic views of the river Ganges and it’s my favourite place of the fort.Ramnagar Fort Varanasi

Do some fun activities across Ganga River

If you are travelling with kids and want to do some activities. Then cross the Ganga River preferably by taking a boat from Assi ghat and on the other side you can do camel ride or horse ride or maybe take a ride in swings.

There is a tent city also on the other side of the river across the Ghats.

Enjoy some local food in Banaras to satiate your taste buds

Varanasi offers a diverse and delicious culinary experience. The local cuisine of Varanasi reflects the traditional flavours of Uttar Pradesh with its own distinct identity. Here are some popular dishes and food experiences to try in Varanasi:

Kachori Sabzi or Khasta Kachoris: This is one of the popular breakfasts. Kachoris are served in “Dona and Pattal ” (leaf and bowl made of leaves) with potato curry. Or maybe try some Khasta kachori. Popular places are Ram Kachori Bhandar near Kashi Vishwanath temple, Chachi ki Dukkan in Lanka or an unnamed shop near Gate no.4 of Kashi Vishwanath temple. You can try these at any place and taste will never fail. Kachori shop in Varanasi

Jalebi: It is another popular dish for breakfast and most of the shops serving Kachori Sabzi also serve this. In Varanasi, it is consumed on its own or with Dahi.

Sweet Lassi: It’s also very popular in Varanasi and served in Kasore (earthen pots). Blue Lassi shop near Manikarnika ghat is one of the most popular shops and they serve dozens of different varieties of Lassis made with different fruits. Pahalwan lassi shop in Lanka and Shivprasad Lassi shop near Ramnagar fort are other popular places. But you can have lassi from anywhere in Varanasi and it will not disappoint you.

Chaat: Varanasi is famous for its street food, and the chaats are a must-try. Tamatar chaat, Aloo Tikki, Papdi Chaat, Golgappa (Pani puri) and Dahi Vada are some of the dishes you should try in Varanasi. Popular shops are Dena chaat bhandar in Luxa, Kashi Chaat Bhandar in Godowlia area and Banarasi chaat bhandar on Sankat Mochan road.

Thali: After trying all the street food, when you want to enjoy some traditional food in Varanasi then head to Suryauday Haveli or Kesariya thal for thali meals.Thali in Varanasi

Baati Chokha: You can try this at any road side stall or can head to Baati Chokha, a restaurant located in Lahurabir which specializes in it.

Pizzeria Vaatika Café: Situated on Assi Ghat is India’s first Pizzeria serving woodfired Pizzas, pasta, cookies, cakes and Pies. This open café offers unique flavours. Pizza and apple pie are two must haves here when in Varanasi.

Banarasi Paan Bhandars: Visit one of the famous Paan shops in Varanasi, such as Keshav Tambul Bhandar or Prince Paan, to savour different varieties of paan infused with various flavours and fillings.

Lal Chai or Black tea: On ghats you will come across vendors selling black tea, they serve tea with a dash of black salt and lemon. This tea is something you should not miss drinking when in Varanasi.

Read more about Varanasi street food and where to eat.

Take a day trip to Sarnath for spiritual experience

Sarnath is 13 kms from Varanasi and unlike Varanasi’s hustle bustle is quite peaceful. It holds immense significance as a Buddhist pilgrimage site and is one of the four major sites associated with the life of Gautama Buddha.

Main places to visit in Sarnath –

Dhamek Stupa, a massive cylindrical structure that stands as a symbol of Buddha’s teachings. Sarnath stupa

The Chaukhandi Stupa, is believed to mark the spot where Lord Buddha met his first disciples after attaining enlightenment in Bodh Gaya.

Mulagandha Kuti Vihar, is situated within the sacred grounds of Sarnath, the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. There is a Bodhi tree also where Buddha is shown sitting with his disciples.

Ashoka Pillar, was erected by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. The national emblem of India. The pillar still stands in the ground near Dhamek stupa and the capital with four lions facing different directions is kept in the museum.

Sarnath museum showcases the rich heritage and archaeological treasures of Sarnath.

Jain Temple, Japanese garden and Chinese temples are other important places to visit in Sarnath.

During Sarnath visit don’t miss the light and sound show at Dhamek stupa. It is conducted everyday after sunset except for Friday. Light and sound show in Sarnath

Read more about How to take a day trip to Sarnath.

If time permits, visit an Akhara to see how wrestlers still practice on the dirt/mud floor. There are several weaving centres in Varanasi and you can also visit one of them to see the process of making a Banarasi saree.

Practical travel tips for visiting Varanasi

Best time to visit Varanasi

From October to March is the best time to visit Varanasi as the weather is cooler so it is convenient to explore. Better to avoid the monsoon months of July and August.

How to reach Varanasi

Varanasi is a well-connected city and can be reached by various modes of transportation. Here are some common ways to reach Varanasi:

By Air: Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, located in Babatpur, is the nearest airport to Varanasi. It has regular domestic flights connecting Varanasi to major cities in India, such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a pre-paid cab to reach Varanasi city, which is approximately 20 kilometers away.

By Train: Varanasi has multiple railway stations, catering to the needs of the city and its surrounding areas. The main railway station in Varanasi is Varanasi Junction, also known as Varanasi Cantt. It is the largest and busiest railway station in the city, serving as a major transportation hub. Many important trains originate from or pass through Varanasi Junction.

In addition to Varanasi Junction, there are other railway stations in Varanasi, including:

Manduadih Railway Station: Located about 5 kilometers northeast of Varanasi Junction, Manduadih is another significant railway station in Varanasi.

Varanasi City Railway Station (also known as Varanasi City or Varanasi Terminal): This station is situated in the heart of the city, close to the old town and popular tourist attractions.

Other than these Deen Dayal Upadhyay station (Earlier known as Mugal Sarai) situated 15 Km from Varanasi and it provides additional connectivity.

By Road: Varanasi has a well-developed road network, and you can reach the city by bus, car, or taxi. National Highways NH2, NH7, and NH31 pass through Varanasi, connecting it to major cities in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring states. You can either take a state-run bus or hire a taxi or private car for a road trip to Varanasi.

How many days required for Varanasi

The number of days required for a visit to Varanasi depends on your interests and the level of exploration you desire. However, to experience the essence of Varanasi and explore its key attractions, a minimum of three days is recommended. This time frame allows you to immerse yourself in the cultural, spiritual, and historical aspects of the city.

Within three days, you can visit the popular ghats along the Ganges, witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti ceremonies, explore significant temples, take a boat ride, visit Sarnath, and explore the vibrant lanes of the old city, indulging in local street food and shopping.

However, if you have more time available, extending your stay in Varanasi to four or five days allows for a deeper exploration and a more relaxed experience.

Remember, Varanasi is a city with a rich cultural and spiritual heritage, and taking the time to immerse yourself in its essence can be a transformative experience.

Read more about The safety tips for Varanasi, and travel tips for Varanasi.

Where to stay in Varanasi

Varanasi offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, budget-friendly guesthouses, Hostels or traditional homestays, Varanasi has something for everyone. Here are some of the recommendations –

If you are on a budget or traveling solo and looking for a hostel then Moustache Hostel near Assi Ghat, Live Free Hostel near Assi Ghat, Wander Station near Dashashwamedh Ghat or GoSTOP in Bhelupur are good options.

If you are on a medium budget then Kashi residency near Assi Ghat, Hotel Tridev Grand in Bhelupur, The Sunaina near Shivala Ghat/Assi Ghat, Cosy Inn Homestay in Rampura Luxa are some good options.

In case you are looking for a luxury stay then Taj Ganges near Varanasi station, Amritara Suryauday Haveli on Shivala Ghat, Hotel Madin in Varanasi Cantonment area or Rivatas by Ideal in Varanasi cantonment are some good options.

How to travel in and around Varanasi

When it comes to traveling in and around Varanasi, you have several options to choose from. Here are the most practical ways based on my personal experience:

Walking: Varanasi’s narrow lanes and alleys are best explored on foot. Walking allows you to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere, discover hidden gems, and observe the local way of life. It is a convenient option for exploring the ghats, temples, markets, and nearby attractions in the old city.

Cycle Rickshaws: Cycle rickshaws are a popular and eco-friendly mode of transportation in Varanasi. They are especially useful for navigating through narrow lanes and crowded areas. Negotiate the fare beforehand.

Auto-rickshaws or Battery-operated Rickshaws: You can opt for shared auto, which charge you a fixed amount from one destination to another and these are most commonly used by locals. You can also hire an individual auto but in that case negotiate the fair beforehand clearly.

Taxis: Taxis, both regular and app-based services, are available in Varanasi. But don’t use taxis for local sight seeing because inside the city in many areas they are not allowed and you have to walk. Taxis are most comfortable going outside the city to places like Sarnath.

Motorcycle taxi ride: This is another mode of transportation and very practical for traveling in Varanasi. Rapido, an app-based service, is a very fast and economical way to commute if you are ok to ride a pillion on a motorbike.

It’s important to note that Varanasi is crowded and congested, especially in the old city area. Plan your travel accordingly, allow extra time for traffic. Consider a combination of different modes of transportation depending on your needs and the distance you need to travel.

Overall, Varanasi is a city that is steeped in history, culture, and spirituality. Its vibrant street life, rich heritage, and religious significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the cultural diversity of India.

Read more about Pilgrimage places in India.

Sharing is caring!

3 thoughts on “Best things to do in Varanasi in 3 days and 4 days itinerary”

  1. Pingback: Street food of Varanasi and Other places to eat - My Simple Sojourn

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: