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There’s nowhere in the world quite like Varanasi. Widely considered as India’s spiritual capital and Hinduism’s holiest city, Varanasi - or Banaras - is India’s most important pilgrimage destination. Prepare your senses to be inundated by the sounds, scents and sights of this enigmatic and enchanting Indian city.

One of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, a holiday in Varanasi transports you to a spiritual land with a fascinating past - and present. Varanasi draws millions of Hindu pilgrims each year, who travel to the city to wash away their sins in the holy waters of the River Ganges or come to end their days in a place believed to aid the achievement of Nirvana - liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The city’s sacred role in India makes Varanasi holidays both magical and intense.

Step into a spiritual and soulful world

Thousands of temples line Varanasi’s winding city streets, each adding to the palpable atmosphere and energy. Spend your Varanasi holiday wandering the tangle of temples, street stalls and mosques and roaming the Ganges riverside to get a sense of this mystical place. A wonderful way to experience Varanasi is a boat trip - where you’ll gain new perspectives on the city’s crowded and colourful river banks and the intricate rituals that take place every day.

At dusk or dawn, make your way to one of the Varanasi ghats - steps leading down to the waters - stretching along the Ganges riverfront. Dashashwamedh Ghat and Assi Ghat are both well-known. Each day in Varanasi, elaborate religious rituals and ceremonies are held at the ghats; an incredibly atmospheric experience that immerses you in the city’s mystical culture and traditions, with music, incense, candles and chanting.

Reflect on your spiritual holiday in Varanasi in Kerala, India’s green and peaceful state, or travel to Goa to relax on paradisal beaches. At Hayes & Jarvis we specialise in creating bespoke holidays, so whatever your aspirations, we’d love to help you make them happen.

Destination Highlights

  • At dusk, watch a Ganga Arti ritual at one of Varanasi’s ghats along the riverside
  • Gaze up at the golden towers of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, a famous Hindu temple
  • Enjoy new perspectives of this beautiful city on a river cruise on the Ganges
  • Wander the maze of backstreets and alleyways to get a real sense of daily life in Varanasi and the ancient craft traditions

Explore Varanasi

Time Zone

GMT +5.5 hours

Flight Time

Short 1 hour 40 minute flight from Delhi


INR - Indian Rupee

Visa Information

British citizens are required to obtain a visa from the Indian embassy prior to arrival.


Hindi and English are widely spoken

Health Info

Some vaccinations are recommended when travelling to certain areas in India. Please contact your GP for vaccination requirements.

Lucy, Destination Specialist

“Taking place early in the morning, Subah-e-Banaras is a morning Vedic chanting, yoga and music programme. Many come to Assi Ghat and the various temples on the riverfront each morning, and the sunrise views over the water are breathtaking.”

Destination Specialist
Robert, Destination Specialist

“Learn about astrology in Varanasi. Varanasi is an ancient centre of learning in this domain and continues to attract students from far and wide. Explore your past, present and future with this ancient knowledge system.”

Destination Specialist

Events & Festivals

Every day in Varanasi, elaborate religious rituals are performed at the temples all over the city and at the ghats all along the Ganges riverside. During your holiday in Varanasi, taking part in one of these ceremonies is an important insight into the city’s culture.

Dev Diwali

Diwali is celebrated all over India, but Dev Diwali in November is unique to Varanasi. Celebrated over five-days, pilgrims flock to Varanasi, leaving offerings at the temples and bathing in the Ganges River to wash away their sins and welcome in prosperity. Dev Diwali is a stunning time to visit Varanasi, with candles and oil lamps decorating the ghats all along the riverfront and colourful processions parading the city streets.

Local Cuisine

Varanasi contributes an array of delicious dishes to the medley of Indian cuisine - the majority of dishes vegetarian due to the city’s religious nature. The street food, in particular, is rich and varied - with recipes as old as the city. Don’t end your Varanasi holiday without first sampling some local cuisine.


Lassi is a widely popular yoghurt-based drink in India - a blend of yoghurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. Mango Lassi is a popular variant of the drink, and there are many other flavours. Varanasi is famous for its Lassis and there are ample Lassi shops all over the city where you can try the drink - some that have been making Lassis for hundreds of years.


The Betel leaf plays a prominent role in the socio-religious life of Hindus. It is used in a number of different ways; one renowned way in Varanasi is the chewing of Betel as a mouth freshener.

Kachori Sabzi

Varanasi’s most popular breakfast dish, there are two different types of Kachori - a stuffed, deep-fried pastry. Badi Kachori is filled with a a spicy mixture of lentils; Choti Kachori is stuffed with a spicy mashed potato mix. Kachoris are typically served with a tangy Aloo curry, flavoured with cloves and chilli.

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