Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges

Looking for travel tips and inspiration for your next adventure to India? Or simply want a fun, travel-themed read? Here’s an excerpt from my travel journal about visiting Varanasi, India!

Day 1 of Visiting Varanasi

We had to take another overnight train for this trip, except this time it took 24 hours! All in all, we spent 48 hours traveling and only 24 hours visiting Varanasi. But the city was so incredibly that I didn’t mind the travel too much! Here’s a photo of our train ride to the Himalayas – click here to read more about what it’s like to ride one of these trains in India!

Trains in India

 

We took a boat ride on the Ganges to watch the sunset, and we put these cups with flowers and a candle into the river and made wishes. Hindus believe that the Ganges River is a goddess and that this ritual can bring good luck.

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

Then we sailed down the river to see the funeral pyres, which looked especially cool at night. Since the Ganges River is so holy for Hindus, the funeral pyres are busy into the evening cremating bodies with the hope that these souls will have a prosperous next life after their reincarnation.

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

When we returned to the docks, we watched the evening prayer from our boat. There were many fascinating rituals involved, and the proceedings were quite moving.

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

That evening, we spent a little time wandering the streets of Varanasi. I was amazed to learn that Varanasi is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, at 6,000 years and counting!

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

 

Day 2 of Visiting Varanasi

Today we had an early-morning boat ride on the Ganges. I have never seen such a sunrise in my life!

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

We also got to see the pilgrims (and locals) coming to the river ghats to bathe. Many Hindus will save money their whole life in order to make the pilgrimage to Varanasi, believing that bathing in this holy river will bring them good luck in the next life.

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

When visiting Varanasi, there are plenty of other nearby places to visit too! For example, we went to Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first speech. First we visited a temple that commemorates the event, and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists.

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

We also got to visit one of the largest Buddha statues in the world, which stands at 80 feet tall!

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

In addition, we spent some time exploring ancient Buddhist stupas, which were STUPendous! 😉

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River     Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

 

Visiting Varanasi was a little chaotic and tiring, but I was definitely glad for the experience. The cultural and spiritual aspect of this excursion was unlike any other, and it was an authentic (albeit brief) glimpse of India’s more gritty and traditional side. Varanasi is at the top of my list of places to revisit, and I highly recommend that everyone allows time for visiting Varanasi when in India!

Visiting Varanasi and the Ganges River

Want to know more about my travels in India? Click here to read about my previous excursion or here for the following excursion. Or, you can click here to read about all of my travel trips and adventures in Asia!

Happy Travels! XOXO Ann

Leave a Comment