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Varanasi trip - The famous ghats

Sacred City on the Ganges

Route: Varanasi

Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in India and is said to be one of the oldest cities in the world. It is also one of the holiest places in India. Many Hindu pilgrims will come to wash away their sins in the holy waters, pray and cremate their deceased loved ones on the banks of the mighty Ganges. It can be an overwhelming city as there is constant activity along the ghats and narrow streets, but it is very captivating at the same time. Life and death are celebrated in ancient and traditional rituals side by side. This colourful city has a very unique culture and magic of its own. A stroll along the ghats or a dawn boat ride down the Holy Ganges is very atmospheric and an unforgettable experience.

If you'd like to start building your very own India trip, take a look at our bite-sized India tours. This module can follow on from our Riverside Ruins and Lost Temples tour or from our Wonders of the World short Agra tour. If you are short on time you can fly directly to Varanasi from Delhi. Just ask your Travel Specialist.

Please note: The trains to Varanasi tend to get booked up quickly. We recommend organising your tickets three months in advance to ensure the best chance of availability. To begin arranging your India holiday, have a chat with our India travel specialists on 01273 322044.


Duration 3 days / 2 nights
Departs daily from Varanasi
Best time to travel: Oct to late April


Heritage hotel. Category 2/3 (see accommodation)


£158 per person - based on 2 people sharing


2 nights accommodation with breakfast, River Ganges boat trip.


Private car


International flights, entrance fees.

Day 1: Arrival in Varanasi Trip

You'll arrive in Varanasi by train or plane and you'll arrange your own transfer to your hotel from the local station or airport.

You'll enjoy a fascinating glimpse of this frenetic holy city en route to your hotel. Here you'll stay for the next 2 nights of your trip. You'll have a full day the next day to take in a boat trip and explore the city and riverside ghats. You'll stay in a quirky and comfortable heritage hotel on the banks of the Ganges. This hotel has well furnished rooms, each with a different local style and a different personality. There is Indian art on the walls and a basement breakfast room aswell as a small roof top restaurant where you can eat tasty local dishes and observe life on the riverside ghats below. Perhaps take an evening stroll down to the nearby ghats and watch the city and boats light up at sundown.

Varanasi trip - Sadhu
Varanasi trip - The Ganges...

Day 2: Varanasi - Ganges Boat Trip

Today it's an early start for your private Ganges boat trip. At dawn this a particularly atmospheric experience. The Ganges is flanked by a series of ghats – broad stone staircases leading down to the water – that stretch for many miles along the Ganges. You can stroll along the traffic-free ghats, and attend the evening prayer ceremony on the main ghat where flower candles are set afloat on the river. This 'puja' ceremony, as well as ritual bathing, takes place at dawn too and you can observe this from your boat trip.

Following your dawn boat trip a local guide will take you on a short heritage walk through the old part of Varanasi. The rest of the day is free for you to explore at your own pace. Life and death rub shoulders here like nowhere else on earth, and the experience is very absorbing. Watching a cremation take place on the ‘burning ghats’ during this India trip is something that you will remember forever. Next to the cremation ghats, you’ll find kids playing, holy men smoking, cows nosing through rubbish, and women beating laundry on the rocks.  

Day 3: Departure from Varanasi

Just ask your India Travel Specialist if you'd like us to include an excursion to Sarnath – a holy Buddhist site - 10 km from Varanasi. It was here that Buddha gave his first lecture. After his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, Buddha came to Sarnath to preach about the Middle Way of reaching Nirvana. After this, the religious ruler Ashoka built an enormous stupa (temple) and several Buddhist monasteries to commemorate the teaching. Each Buddhist country in the world now has its own temple, which often makes the place feel like a World Expo is being held there. You can get to Sarnath by auto rickshaw in about 20 minutes or, if you would prefer, we can arrange a private car and guide to take you there during your India tour.

This Varanasi trip finishes in Varanasi. From here you can fly back to Delhi or take the sleeper train or perhaps fly down to Mumbai. We can also add extra nights in Varanasi for you, just let us know!
Varanasi trip - Sun setting on the Ganges

A Peek at your Accommodation (Click to Enlarge)

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