Varanasi’s main attraction is over 100 ghats that line the Ganges. A sunrise boat trip along this sacred river is an unforgettable experience, along with watching locals perform puja each night at Dashashwamedh Ghat, when thousands of floating candles are released onto the water as an offering to Goddess Ganga.
This exotic city is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is home to over 23,000 Hindu temples. Kashi Vishvanath, also known as the Golden Temple, is the most iconic Shiva temple and attracts thousands of worshippers daily; while the 18th-century Durga Temple is named after the Warrior Goddess who is believed to have created a statue inside.
In addition to exploring Varanasi’s multitude of temples, take time to visit the impressive Ramnagar Fort – a crumbling 17th-century sandstone structure on the Ganges’ eastern bank. A hub for spiritual types, Varanasi is a leading centre for yoga and meditation and you’ll find numerous schools and drop-in classes open to tourists. To explore further afield, take a daytrip to nearby Sarnath, an ancient sacred site where Buddha first preached after achieving enlightenment.
Street food is a cornerstone of Indian culture and you can sample some of the country’s best examples here, from spicy samosas to creamy desserts. For a sit-down meal, the city’s winding lanes are dotted with quaint eateries serving a range of regional culinary delights, including kachoris (crispy, daal-stuffed pastry snacks), lassi (churned buttermilk) and golgappas (hollow, fried dough balls with a savoury filling).
Varanasi is world-famous for its silk-weaving and is a great place to shop for brightly-coloured sarees, scarves and pashminas. The city’s excellent markets sell carpets, textiles, trinkets and handicrafts – try Old Varanasi Street Market, Thatheri Bazaar, Godowlia Market and Vishwanath Lane, to name a few favourites.
Make sure you have a haven to retreat to after a day spent exploring this remarkable and intense city. Conveniently located in the heart of the action at Darbanga Ghat, Brijrama Palace is a renovated palace with decadent river-facing suites and lavish amenities. To fully escape the bustling city, regal Nadesar Palace is just a 20-minute drive away and offers a relaxing bolthole with opulent interiors, peaceful jasmine gardens and fountains.
For the most luxurious trip to India’s holiest city, contact our team and we’ll arrange everything you need to charter a private jet to Varanasi, landing at Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport.