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13 Unique Things To Do In Varanasi, India


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Gertrud Sparrow


Varanasi, also known as Kashi, is one of the oldest and holiest cities in India. Situated on the banks of the sacred river Ganges, it is a place of immense spiritual significance for Hindus. With its rich history, ancient temples, and bustling ghats, Varanasi attracts millions of visitors each year.

While the religious rituals and ceremonies along the riverfront are a major attraction, there is much more to explore in this vibrant city. From exploring narrow winding lanes to witnessing mesmerizing sunrise boat rides, Varanasi offers a plethora of unique experiences.

In this article, we will delve into 13 unique things to do in Varanasi that go beyond the traditional tourist sites. Whether you are a spiritual seeker, a history enthusiast, or simply an explorer at heart, these offbeat activities will provide you with an unforgettable journey through the heart and soul of this mystical city.

Experience the Mesmerizing Ganga Aarti Ceremony

One of the most enchanting experiences in Varanasi is witnessing the famous Ganga Aarti ceremony. As the colors of the setting sun reflect on the glistening waters of the sacred Ganges River, priests perform a spiritual ritual filled with chanting and the mesmerizing light of numerous oil lamps. This soul-stirring ceremony is a beautiful way to connect with the city’s spiritual essence.

Take a Boat Ride Along the Ghats

Embark on a traditional boat ride along the ghats of Varanasi and immerse yourself in the mystical charm of the ancient city. From the peaceful waters of the river, you can witness the vibrant life happening along the riverbanks. Capture the picturesque view of the ghats, where people come to bathe, perform rituals, meditate, and even cremate their loved ones.

Explore the Intricate Architecture of Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Visit the revered Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and admire its intricate and captivating architecture. This sacred abode is one of the holiest temples in India and holds immense spiritual significance for Hindus. Pay your respects and get immersed in the divine ambiance of the temple, surrounded by ornate carvings and religious rituals.

Indulge in Authentic Varanasi Street Food

Discover the culinary delights of Varanasi by exploring its vibrant street food scene. From piping hot jalebis and crisp kachoris to mouthwatering chaats and creamy lassis, the city offers a plethora of gastronomic delights. Savour the flavors of these local delicacies while soaking in the bustling atmosphere of the streets.

Visit the Ramnagar Fort and Museum

Step back in time as you explore the magnificent Ramnagar Fort and Museum. Built in the 18th century, this grand structure reflects a blend of Mughal and Indian architectural styles. Wander through the museum, which houses a remarkable collection of vintage artifacts, including royal carriages, paintings, and armory.

Witness the Timeless Tradition of Silk Weaving

Varanasi is renowned for its exquisite silk weaving industry. Take a tour of the silk workshops and witness the artisans creating intricate designs on looms. Learn about the traditional techniques passed down through generations and appreciate the artistry behind the beautiful silk sarees and fabrics produced in Varanasi.

Discover the Hidden Gems of Varanasi’s Alleys

Explore the labyrinthine alleys of Varanasi and unravel its hidden gems. These narrow lanes are filled with bustling markets, ancient temples, and quaint shops selling everything from handcrafted goods to traditional jewelry. Get lost in the charm of these winding streets and embrace the authentic local culture.

Attend a Classical Music or Dance Performance

Varanasi is a hub of rich artistic traditions. Enhance your cultural experience by attending a classical music or dance performance. Whether it’s a mesmerizing sitar recital or a graceful Kathak dance performance, immersing yourself in the magic of Indian classical arts will leave you captivated.

Experience the Serenity of Sarnath

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and visit Sarnath, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. This sacred site holds immense significance for Buddhists and offers a peaceful retreat for meditation and contemplation. Explore the ancient ruins, visit the famous Dhamekh Stupa, and soak in the tranquility of this spiritual destination.

Take a Sunrise Boat Ride to Witness Morning Rituals

Start your day with a serene sunrise boat ride on the Ganges and witness the morning rituals performed by devotees. From the chanting of prayers to the rhythmic movements of yoga and meditation, observe the spiritual awakening of the city against the backdrop of a breathtaking sunrise.

Participate in a Yoga and Meditation Session

Varanasi is a haven for those seeking inner peace and spiritual rejuvenation. Engage in a yoga and meditation session led by experienced gurus in serene ashrams or along the peaceful riverbanks. Connect with your inner self and experience the transformative power of these ancient practices.

Explore the Ancient Wisdom at the Banaras Hindu University

Visit the prestigious Banaras Hindu University, one of the largest residential universities in Asia, and immerse yourself in the knowledge and wisdom it offers. Walk through its sprawling campus, adorned with beautiful gardens and architectural marvels. Discover its renowned libraries, museums, and the iconic Bharat Kala Bhavan, which houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts.

Witness the Traditional Craftsmanship of Wooden Toys

Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of Varanasi’s wooden toys, a traditional art form passed down through generations. Visit the workshops where skilled artisans meticulously carve and paint these vibrant toys. Take home a piece of this ancient craft as a unique memento of your time in Varanasi.


In conclusion, Varanasi, India offers a myriad of unique experiences that are sure to captivate any traveler. From mystical boat rides along the Ganges River to exploring ancient temples and witnessing the vibrant evening Aarti ceremony, there is no shortage of things to do in this spiritual city.

Varanasi’s rich cultural heritage, deeply rooted religious traditions, and enchanting streets filled with bustling markets make it a truly memorable destination. Whether you are seeking spiritual enlightenment, historical exploration, or simply to immerse yourself in the vibrant local culture, Varanasi has it all.

So, pack your bags, prepare for an adventure, and get ready to discover the 13 unique things to do in Varanasi, India.


1. What are the must-visit attractions in Varanasi?

Some of the must-visit attractions in Varanasi include the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sarnath, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Assi Ghat, and the Ganges River.

2. What is the best time to visit Varanasi?

The best time to visit Varanasi is during the winter season, from November to February, when the weather is pleasant and suitable for exploring the city.

3. Are there any unique festivals celebrated in Varanasi?

Yes, Varanasi is known for its vibrant festivals. The most famous festival is Diwali, the festival of lights, when the entire city is illuminated with lamps and fireworks. Other notable festivals include Holi, Durga Puja, and Maha Shivaratri.

4. How can I experience the spiritual side of Varanasi?

To experience the spiritual side of Varanasi, you can participate in the morning and evening Aarti ceremonies held at the ghats, take a boat ride on the Ganges River, and witness the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti.

5. Is it safe to travel alone in Varanasi?

Varanasi is generally a safe city for travelers, but it is always advisable to take necessary precautions. It is recommended to avoid walking alone late at night and to be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas.