A few questions on Varanasi

#1 Dec 30th, 2017, 16:24
Join Date:
Dec 2017
  • raffis is offline
Hi there

In February 2018, I will visit Varanasi for 11 days.
I haven't been to India so far, but I've been studying Indian religion and culture privately as well as at university for about 12 years now. Besides, I've traveled to various places within the last 15 years (i.e. 5 times to the Philippines as my wife is from there), so I'd say that I do have experience with traveling in „less developed“ (to use that term in a non-normative way) countries.
Nevertheless, I do have some specific questions for which I'm sure you guys have some answers.

1. Arrival
I've read (in the corresponding sticky thread) that there are (licensed) airport-taxis on the lefthand-side when leaving Varanasi airport. In my case, I'll need to head to Narat Gath. From what I've read, I'd have to take such a taxi to the outskirts of the „old city“ and then take a reeksha from there.
So: Airport → taxi to outskirts → reeksha to Narad Ghat

1a. What would the proper place for the taxi be to stop, when having to go to Narat Ghat?
1b. How much (in rupees) would the moderate price be for that taxi ride from the airport?
1c. Do the licensed taxis have a taxometer or do you negotiate a fixed price in the beginning? What are your recommendations?
1d. Is it correct that you'd pay (with one piece of luggage) about 25 rupees for the reeksha to Narad Ghat?
1e. What about people offering you to carry your luggage etc.? Is it „easy to handle“ these people or what is your recommended strategy with regard to gentle but determined signals (in the sense of „Thanks, but I'll carry that myself“)?

2. Equipment
I'll stay at a guesthouse for 10 nights. What kind of pieces are must-haves in your opinion?
Example: A flashlight due to regular power breakdowns. Any further must-haves?

3. Shops
In the Ghats at the rivers, what is the situation concerning department / convenient stores, i.e. for buying bottled water and other equipments (toothpaste etc.)? Are such stores around in the old part of the city at the Ganges or where would you buy such things?

What about WIFI in general? I.e. in the guesthouse for which I've signed up, WIFI should be available. What about quality / speed, and availability in general? Does taking your mobile phone to Varanasi and using free wireless (offered by your specific hotel or other locations) suffice to be moderately use the Internet?

5. Sivaratri
One day after my arrival, Sivaratri is going to take place.
5a. What about „life“ in the Ghats during that festival? I guess it will be very crowded etc. Any recommendations or hints?
5b. Any must-do's concerning this festival (as I am already there then)?

6. Hot spots near Varanasi
I know there are quite a few threads concerning this, but I'd still like to know (and even a list of places would do it) what places in and close to Varanasi (reachable within one day) you'd recommend, especially with regard to religious and cultural life?

7. Security
What about the security situation in the Ghats? As a Westener, would you say that you can move freely around? Or are there any specific areas or zones (also with regard to i.e. religious life) which I should not even try to visit?
What about „nightlife“? How safe is it to walk around the Ghats / through the old town when it's already dark?

8. In case of …
In case of any emergency, whom would you advise to contact? I.e. the hotel staff, the police or rahter visit the closes tourist information centre?

That's it for now. I'm sure some more questions will pop up in my mind within the coming weeks. I'd be very grateful for your suggestions and insights on these questions and I say 'thank you' in advance already!

All the best,
#2 Dec 30th, 2017, 16:29
Join Date:
Dec 2017
  • raffis is offline

9. Language
Do you get along well with English? Any places, areas or "businesses" for which English won't work?

That's it :-)
#3 Dec 30th, 2017, 17:10
Join Date:
Dec 2008
In the land of awesomeness
  • aarosh is offline
1. Where does your guest house recommend you to get down at Varanasi to reach Narad Ghat? The licenses airport taxis are prepaid ones. You will have to pay first and then board the taxi to reach your destination. What does your guest house say about the rickshaw fare to get to the guest house from Narad Ghat?

2. A bed sheet or light sleeping bag if you are finicky about a clean bed sheet.

3. There are shops near the ghats where you could buy bottled water (they would be available at most restaurant and general stores (for other stuff like tooth paste etc)).

4. Your mobile phone will work fine if you use the hotel wifi. For other wifi's you might need to have an Indian number where a OTP will be sent using which you can login to the provider's wifi network. If there are any which do not need an OTP your phone should be good enough.

5. http://www.indiamike.com/india/varan...anasi-t175704/ might be of some help.

6. Sarnath for religious, Ramnagar or Chunar Fort for cultural.

7. Try to stay away from the burning ghat. Not sure if you would be allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temples. Apart from that the rest would be safe enough.

8. First will be your hotel followed by the police.

9. In most places English would be fine. Please be aware of strangers whose relatives have shops of various kinds in Varanasi.
#4 Dec 30th, 2017, 17:20
Join Date:
Jul 2005
  • vonkla is offline
Some other interesting places we visited around Varanasi are Jaunpur and Sasaram.
#5 Dec 30th, 2017, 21:09
Join Date:
Mar 2007
Switzerland, at the moment in Thailand
  • atala is offline
Varanasi is definitely a lot safer than any place in the Philippines. You should relax your expectations, and just take it as an adventure which will not harm you, but enrich you.

Expect to pay Rs 700 from the airport to the city. The airport is relatively far from town. Since you most likely come from Delhi, be sure to get some money changed at the airport there (say 100 Francs), so you feel comfortable in your first hours on the ground. Be generous with the Rickshaw drivers. The fare you quoted seems low enough (less than 40 cents...)

Do not hesitate to go see the burning ghats. Take a full day to go and see Sarnath, so you have plenty of time to see the museum there. Closed on Fridays. http://www.sarnathmuseumasi.org/index.html

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