10 Things To Know If You're Planning To Walk Through *Banaras Ki Galiya* For The First Time

10 Things To Know If You're Planning To Walk Through *Banaras Ki Galiya* For The First Time

Varanasi is surreal. It is poetic, crumbling, energetic and eccentric. People walking in saffron outfits, men taking dips in the ghats, goats wearing sweaters, chanting, burning bodies and boys flying kites--these are normal, everyday sights in the galis of Banaras. It is, after all, the holiest of the seven pilgrim cities in India for Hindus and Jains, and draws a huge number of worshippers every year.

Over hundreds of years, Varanasi has absorbed many cultures, myths, superstitions and philosophies, so don't be surprised if the city feels like a storybook to you. But before you visit the city, there are a few things you must know about it!  

How To Reach Varanasi

Things To Do In Varanasi

How To Reach Varanasi?

4 Things To Know If You Are Planning To Walk In Banaras Ki Galiya For The First Time

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By Air: Take a flight to Lal Bahadur Shastri airport which is 25 km from the centre of the city. From the terminal autos, cabs and buses are easily available. 

By Road: The roads of the city are well connected to Uttar Pradesh and the neighbouring states. As it's a sacred destination, there are plenty of buses and cabs available for Varanasi.  

By Train: Varanasi is well-connected via trains to the rest of the nation. Mughal Sarai railway station is just 10 km away from the centre of the city.

Best Time To Visit: October to March

From Its Rustic Life To Its Holiness, Know All About The City Varanasi 

A holy land, river Ganga or a simple life... what pops up in your head when you think of Varanasi? Read further to know about what to do in Varanasi in one day.

1. You go there for experience and lessons, not leisure!

1 Things To Know If You Are Planning To Walk In Banaras Ki Galiya For The First Time

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Varanasi isn't a tourist-y city that'll have you sippin' fruity drinks and cocktails. It's not a city where you can expect great service or staff. It's a city inhabited by 3.5 million people and their long, enchanting stories. You may not find a luxurious life there but you sure will learn about the cycle of life and death. Sounds fascinating to me!

2. Varanasi is a city of sweets

People eat sweets for breakfast, lunch, dinner and as snacks. And of course, milk cream is a must along with it. The city offers you the sweetness of malaiyo (a sweet dish with rice balls dipped in saturated, spiced cream), lassi, rabri and so on. You also get free samples to taste at sweet shops.

3. Hinduism may have originated in Banaras but it's not just a Hindu city

The importance of Varanasi originates from Hindu epics, but much like any other city in India, Varanasi is diverse and welcomes all cultures including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and so on. The Islamic population of the city includes the oldest and most experienced weavers of the coveted Banarasi saris and Zari threadwork.

4. The Ganges is not for skinny dipping   

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It's one of the oldest and sacred rivers in the country. It is where people believe their sins wash out as they bathe in its water. People usually fill their containers and take the water home, because it is considered holy. However, India is a country of ironies so, it doesn't come as a surprise that the Ganges is highly polluted and a lot of daily waste is released in the river. So the best time to take a dip in the water is in the morning. However, out of respect, do not skinny dip or swim too far. You can always go to Koh Tao for that. This can be the best thing to do in Varanasi.

5. For the best experience, ditch your vehicle and walk

2 Things To Know If You Are Planning To Walk In Banaras Ki Galiya For The First Time

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The charm of Varanasi lies in its ghats with the staircases leading to the river. Each staircase has a different story. The best way to experience the many cultures the city is influenced by is through a linear walk. A lot of cultural mysteries will unfold as you walk along the ghats. Your first stop would be Assi Ghat for morning pooja. You can enjoy a performance by local musicians and a pizza at Vatika Pizzeria. Then you must move to Manikarnika Ghat also known as the burning ghat. About 40,000 Hindu bodies are brought for cremation there. 

The story behind the Manikarnika Ghat is of Shiva and Parvati. It is said that Parvati lost her earring at the ghat and asked Shiva not to return until he found the earring. Shiva never found the lost earring so it is believed that Shiva asks the spirit of every burned body there if they've seen his wife's earring.  

6. Varanasi summer can be painful to pass through

Varanasi summers are not very pleasant. The food will decay easily, the heat will irritate you and the city will seem chaotic. 

7. If your immunity is good, street food is the best

Tasty, fried food and sweets are art in Varanasi. The menu starts from tikkis, kachori sabzi and ends with lip-smacking desserts. The city is not big on dine-ins and sit and eat kind of menus. So, street food is your best bet. This is one of the most offbeat things to do in Varanasi.

8. Beware of the monkeys, will you?!

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Banarasis have trained their monkeys to do part of their work. They are called by their human names and can do breakfast deliveries and pick up the trash. However, if you click pictures or are carrying something that might tempt them, they may snatch your stuff and cameras. They are known for throwing tantrums, you see.

9. It's a poetic city

3 Things To Know If You Are Planning To Walk In Banaras Ki Galiya For The First Time

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Banarasis like to talk in rhyme, so if you ask a question and receive an answer in rhyme, don't pay attention to details. Just appreciate the rhythm and sweetness.  

10. Be open to appreciate the taste of paan like a local

Banarasi paan is basically a blast of weirdness in your mouth. All the unique taste will give you an explosion of emotions and you would unapologetically walk around in the city with a red mouth. 

Also Read: 10 Things You’ll Totally Get If You LOVE Travelling!! and #SoloTrip: Top 7 Countries For Women Travellers!

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