Varanasi is the oldest city in the world and there is an enthralling romance in its crumbling architecture and winding streets. It is not, however, for the faint hearted.
It is hectic, dirty, crowded, loud and smelly yet it is simultaneously old, beautiful, curious, spiritual and atmospheric to its core.
The horns are as insistently constant as a chorus of cicadas and as a tourist you can’t go more than a few paces without being approached by a ‘spiritual’ baba after your precious rupees. Yet there is an undeniable beauty in its genuine spirituality and heart-warming communal gatherings. It is a truly unique experience and a must visit Indian city.
Here are some pointers:
1. Stay 1-2 nights; 2 days is sufficient to see and hear what you need.
2. Get lost in the back streets. Varanasi is a photographer’s dream. You’ll discover charming little restaurant and shops.
3. Eat street food. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s hot and you can see it being cooked, then you’ll be fine. We ate amazing South Indian street food as well as typical food from the region. Make sure to overload on chai and lassis.
4. Do a sunrise boat trip – this is a must and it’s only 300r for your own boat.
5. Do a sunset boat trip – also a must, but completely different to sunrise. See the burning ghats and then the evening performances on the water.
6. Be sure to walk all along the ghats.
Finally. Try not to get fleeced! It’s tricky as the ‘babas’ tend to be everywhere but any baba near the water saying he would like to bless you is more than likely to be after your cash!