Exuding spirituality and devotion, Varanasi is a city of many names – Banaras and Kashi. As it sits along the banks of the sacred River Ganges, it is one of the oldest cities in the world and holds great religious importance for Hindus. Every year, Varanasi sees countless pilgrims and tourists drawn to its Ghats, temples and historic sites.
Join us on a virtual tour of this holy city and experience its cultural heritage and divine atmosphere through our top recommended destinations.
In this article, we will take you on a journey through the famous places to visit in Varanasi, giving you a glimpse into the spiritual (famous temple in Uttar Pradesh) and historical wonders that await you.
- Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year
- Ideal Vacation Duration: 2 to 3 days
- Things to Do: Watch Ganga Arati, take a boat ride, and visit temples.
- How to Reach: Via air, rail and road.
If you’re looking for peace and spirituality, you can visit all the places in Varanasi through our great Uttar Pradesh Tour Packages deal!
Here are some popular places to visit in Varanasi:
- New Vishwanath Temple: A Glimpse of Spiritual Magnificence
- Bharat Kala Bhawan Museum: A Treasure Trove of Indian Art
- Kathwala Temple: A Fusion of Architecture and Woodwork
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple: The Oldest and Most Sacred
- Ganga Aarti: Witnessing the Divine Spectacle
- Sunrise Boat Ride: Embracing the Serenity
- Ramnagar Fort: A Glimpse into History
- Sarnath: Where Buddhism Found its Voice
- Deer Park Complex: Embracing Nature and Spirituality
- Dhamek Stupa: A Symbol of Buddhist Architecture
- Sarnath Museum: Unveiling the Past
- Sankat Mochan Temple
- Assi Ghat
- Vishwanath Gali
- Durga Temple
- Kedar Ghat
- Nepali Temple
- Bhatuk Bhairav
- Banaras Hindu University
- Gyan Vapi Well
- Bharat Mata Mandir
- Tibetan Temple
- Shivala Ghat
- Manmandir Ghat
- Manikarnika Ghat
If you are planning to visit Varanasi? Here, we have compiled a list of top 25 places to visit in Varanasi & things to do in Varanasi that should be on your wishlist!
1.) New Vishwanath Temple: A Glimpse of Spiritual Magnificence
The spiritual essence of Varanasi is on full display at the New Vishwanath Temple, located within the campus of Banaras Hindu University. This wonder of architecture features extraordinary Hindu temple design which will make you feel overwhelmed the moment you step inside the complex. You’ll notice the divine atmosphere and intricate carvings that add to the grandeur of the temple. Take a moment to offer your prayers and absorb the peacefulness of this sacred place.
2.) Bharat Kala Bhawan Museum: A Treasure Trove of Indian Art
Situated within the premises of Banaras Hindu University the Bharat Kala Bhawan Museum is a must visit destination, for both art enthusiasts and history aficionados. This museum proudly exhibits paintings, sculptures and artifacts that beautifully depict the rich cultural heritage of our country. Take a stroll through the galleries and marvel at the masterpieces crafted by Indian artists. Immerse yourself in the captivating allure and intricate craftsmanship of art as you explore every nook and cranny of this treasure trove.
3.) Kathwala Temple: A Fusion of Architecture and Woodwork
Continuing our exploration, we now turn our attention to the Kathwala Temple, which stands out for its styles infused with a stunning blend of woodwork. This temple serves as a showcase for the local artisans showcasing their artistic prowess while paying homage, to Varanasi’s rich creative traditions. As you step inside this shrine prepare to be mesmerized by its designs and awe-inspiring statues that bring Hindu mythology to life. Take a moment to admire not the beauty but also appreciate the immense skill and dedication poured into creating this architectural marvel.
4.) Kashi Vishwanath Temple: The Oldest and Most Sacred
In this sacred city, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple holds a significant role in capturing its essence. As Lord Shiva’s revered protector, this temple enjoys a special position among Hindus, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. A powerful sense of religious reverence and spirituality surrounds you as you enter the temple complex. Enveloped in the sanctuary’s sacred energy, pray and seek the divine blessings of Lord Shiva.
5.) Ganga Aarti: Witnessing the Divine Spectacle
With cultural significance, the Ganga Aarti unfolds at the impressive Dashashwamedh Ghats. With night’s veil descending, the Ghats are illuminated by the priestly chants’ melodious tones and the captivating dance of flames. The alluring fusion of incense and bells enchants those who encounter it, casting a magical spell. Within this ethereal symphony, locate a tranquil spot on the Ghats and allow the captivating sight to guide you to a realm where the divine and the earthly merge in perfect harmony.
6.) Sunrise Boat Ride: Embracing the Serenity
The majestic sunrise on the Ganges should be experienced on your second day in Varanasi. Board a boat and behold the river’s tranquil waters as the morning sky’s golden light reflects upon them. While gliding down the river, observe the Ghats spring to life as devotees partake in sacred rites and take holy dips.
7.) Ramnagar Fort: A Glimpse into History
This experience will leave you feeling revitalized and eager to discover Varanasi’s additional delights. Spend the second half of your day investigating the legendary Ramnagar Fort, situated by the Ganges’ eastern shore. Even in decay, the fort’s remains offer a brief glance into an era long past. As you stroll through the fort’s hallways and outdoor spaces, you’ll find an array of impressive artwork and ornate decorations in the Darbar Hall. Let your imagination be swept away as you soak up the fort’s storied past, picturing life flourishing within its boundaries.
8.) Sarnath: Where Buddhism Found its Voice
This serene Three days into your Varanasi adventure, journey to Sarnath, the site where Buddha gave his initial speech. The distance between Varanasi and Sarnath is minuscule, while Sarnath holds spiritual importance for Buddhists and boasts an abundance of ancient treasures. Investigate the Buddhist temples, the deer park complex, and the remnants of Buddhist monasteries that dot the scenery. Allow yourself to reflect on Buddha’s wisdom within the peaceful atmosphere of this holy ground.
9.) Deer Park Complex: Embracing Nature and Spirituality
As you explore the expansive deer park in Sarnath, verdant foliage and unfettered deer populate your surroundings. A calm surrounding allows for profound introspection and meditation. Take time to reconnect within yourself by finding solitude amongst nature’s serenity. Immerse yourself in the calm atmosphere here, allowing it to heal and invigorate every aspect of yourself.
10.) Dhamek Stupa: A Symbol of Buddhist Architecture
Eminent in Buddhist design, the Dhamek Stupa stands as the zenith of architectural triumph. Established during the 5th century, this ancient structure has significant historical importance as the place where Buddha offered his maiden speech. Gaze upon the elaborate sculptures and colossal structure with wonder, meditating on the complex tenets of Buddhist doctrine.
11.) Sarnath Museum: Unveiling the Past
To fully grasp the importance of Sarnath, enter the museum positioned inside the deer park precincts. This museum houses a diverse array of artifacts providing deep understanding of Buddha and Buddhist doctrine. Immersive gallery experiences reveal insightful details on past societies rooted within this territory. Immersed within this collection, gain insights into the historical context of Buddhism.
12.) Sankat Mochan Temple
In the early 1900s, renowned activist Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya led the development of this River Assi-side holy place. This temple honors Lord Rama and Hanuman with its towering structure. A vital component of Varanasi’s holiness, Sankat Mochan Temple cannot be ignored. Visitors to Varanasi customarily make a stop at this revered sanctuary, honoring Hanuman with their presence.
Notorious among local devotees, the sweets offered here draw attention from mischievous macaques on the temple grounds. Yet, unbothered and undisturbed, they remain tranquil. If you allow them their space, they won’t pose any danger; even attempts to intimidate them through aggressive means serve solely to hasten their departure.
13.) Assi Ghat
Situated where the Assi and Ganges Rivers meet, reverent Assi Ghat boasts a commanding Shiva Lingam guarded by a respected fig tree. Being referred to in sacred scriptures like the Puranas and folklore alike, this location carries immense religious weight. Front and center among Varanasi’s appeal lies Assi Ghat, offering visitors and locals equally striking perspectives of riverine sunsets and sunrises. Visitors and duration travelers to Varanasi find temporary housing in a specific region. Popular with area young people during evenings, the Ghat serves as a social hotspot.
In recent times, the Ghat has commenced with morning Aarti performances, rendering them a must-see experience for anyone wishing to fully appreciate the essence of Varanasi. Boat rides from Assi to Dashaswmedh Ghat during the evenings allow visitors to partake in the magical aarti spectacle happening daily, offering an exceptional encounter. Positioned nearby Banaras Hindu University, Assi Ghat experiences student footfall quite commonly.
14.) Vishwanath Gali
This historic gali (alley) has earned a reputation for its dynamic retail experience. The bustling gali boasts an array of goods available at budget-friendly costs. At this market, shopping choices range from contemporary fashion to antique trinkets, including everything needed for everyday life along with exclusive sweet indulgences such as divine figurines and local treats.
In 1964, this structure was erected as a tribute to Lord Rama, with Saint Poet Tulsi Das being the naming inspiration. Its architectural design features the distinctive Shikhara style, while also displaying numerous inscriptions from the Ram Charit Manas etched onto its wall surfaces. The carving on the upper floor of the temple retells the tales of Ramayana through distinctive Episodes. A trip to the temple is particularly rewarding during July and August’s Saawan month, when unique puppet displays—related to Ramayana—are presented, offering entertainment for all.
15.) Durga Temple
Built adjacent to the riverbanks, around the time of the 18th-century (at or near Durga Ghat) Durga Temple boasts historical significance. A towering idol of Goddess Durga calls this temple home, renowned among Varanasi’s predominant places of worship.
16.) Kedar Ghat
Acclaimed for preserving a sanctified environment since ancient times, Kedar Ghat offers a tranquil ambiance ideal for communing with the divine in the Gangetic River’s holies waters during visits to the sacred Kedareshwar Temple honoring Lord Shiva. For picturesque scenery and spiritual ambiance, it’s frequently visited.
17.) Nepali Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva since the 19th century, the Nepali Temple is among the oldest sanctuaries in town. Its originator, King Nepal, intended it to embody the design of Kathmandu’s acclaimed Pashupatinath Temple. Visitors flock to witness the charm of the aged building materialized through stone, terracotta, and meticulous wooden ornamentations.
18.) Bhatuk Bhairav
As a sacred temple where Aghoris and Tantris come together to seek enlightenment, Batuk Bhairav Mandir boasts immense religious significance. Dedicated to Batuk Bhairav, an embodiment of Lord Shiva, lies this sacred temple. This significant element in worship is said to burn steadily since time immemorial. Its reputation lies within its purported curative qualities; the oil from this lamp is believed to hold healing powers.
19.) Banaras Hindu University
Built upon a picturesque 5.3 square kilometers area nestled within the metropolis, BHU honors its illustrious heritage. Spanning across the entirety of the continent, this establishment shelters around thirty thousand students. Among distinguished alums and teaching staff, the Institution boasts an impressive array. The appealing landscape blends flawlessly with the architectural style, further enriching the overall ambiance.
20.) Gyan Vapi Well
A revered holy site for Hindus, Gyan Vapi Well resides on the temple property of Kashi Vishwanath. In comparison to the offerings made on River Ganga, the well’s water had greater spiritual significance before becoming impure. A story holds that during Aurangzeb’s assault on the aged temple, the priest boldly safeguarded it by tossing the Shivalinga into a nearby well, following suit with his own brave leap.
21.) Bharat Mata Mandir
This temple distinguishes itself by paying tribute exclusively to Mother India through its architecture and design inspired by her grandeur. Marble maps of nations adorn some temples rather than residing gods, like here. Created by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta, a champion of independence, the temple represents a testament to his spirit. Constructed in 1936 and opened with Mahatma Gandhi’s inauguration, this monument remains unique globally.
22.) Tibetan Temple
Standing tall within this architectural marvel, Lord Buddha imparted vital wisdom regarding the nature of reality to his devoted followers. Housing a majestic sculpture of Shakyamunity, alongside prayer wheels and meticulously crafted wall murals embellished with traditional Tibetan Buddhist works of art (Tanka), this edifice exudes profound spirituality. Turned counterclockwise, these special prayer wheels dispense papers bearing sacred hymns.
23.) Shivala Ghat
Both spiritually and historically notable, Shivala Ghat commands reverence. Historic sites abound near the Ghats. King Sanjay Vikram’s opulent residence is strategically positioned near the Ghat and the impressive Chet Singh Fortress.
24.) Manmandir Ghat
A riverfront scenery experience that warrants a visit lies along the Ghat. During his reign, Maharaja Mann Singh erected Manmandir Ghat. Two significant landmarks mark this location: the regal palace commissioned by the Maharaja himself and the 1710 observation post created by Savai Jaisingh II. From this rock terrace on the north bank, stunning views of the river Ganga await visitors.
25.) Manikarnika Ghat
Ranging from sculpture to painting and beyond, Bharat Kala Bhavan houses a comprehensive array of art pieces encompassed within its walls during the era between ancient times and the Middle Ages (first to 15th century CE). Exhibited within this space are more than 100,000 items, highlighted by their renowned ensemble of tiny paintings and written works. In Indian culture, Manikarnika Ghat represents a revered passageway to the afterlife. In accordance with beliefs, carrying out funeral rites at the Ghat before departing this realm grants a tranquil passage while breaking free from reincarnation’s never-ending loop.
Conclusion: A Spiritual Sojourn in Varanasi
Varanasi, with its vast heritage of culture and religious significance, offers a one-of-a-kind spiritual and educational adventure. Every inch of this city radiates with spirituality and devotion, from the majestic temples and Ghats to the tranquil surroundings and old ruins. As you explore the best locations to visit in Varanasi, you will be steeped in a world of ancient customs, vivid rituals, and profound lessons. Allow yourself to be taken away by the heavenly air of this holy place and go on an unforgettable spiritual journey.