My Varanasi Trip

#1 Aug 30th, 2015, 22:17
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#1
Hi All,

I am planning to visit Varanasi in Nov during Dipawali (9th-12th Nov 2015).
We will be 6 team members altogether including a kid (9 Yrs) and 3 senior citizens (One of 83 Yrs.). Please let me know the places to be visited must in Varanasi. How will be the weather that time, particularly the temperature?

Thanks & Regds,

Suman Chattopadhyay
#2 Aug 31st, 2015, 13:47
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#2
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Durga Bari, Sankat Mochan, BHU are some of the must visits in Varanasi. You can visit Sarnath. You can also enjoy a boat ride in Ganges. In early November Varanausi weather would be pleasent.
#3 Aug 31st, 2015, 20:05
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Be careful where you book your stay, some of the guest houses near the main ghat have an awful lot of steps up to the entrance (Sita guest house, Ganpati guest house etc), won't be pleasant for the elderly I should imagine.
#4 Sep 1st, 2015, 11:08
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#4
Thanks all for your suggestions...I have planned to stay at Ali Baba guest house near Dashaswamedh Ghat. Any idea how it is! Have seen many good feedbacks about it.
#5 Dec 13th, 2015, 22:44
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#5
My trip to Varanasi- Traveller's Experience

It was quite sometime back when I actually started thinking of visiting Varanasi. As we all know, this is a pilgrim city. But my eagerness to visit Varanasi was not solely due to this reason. I had a hidden wish to take my father to Varanasi and that was not happening for various reasons and so I made it a point to visit Varanasi this time.

Like any tour, before I started, I gathered some facts about the city, it's culture, the hotels etc. And finally equipped with all these information, I started my journey on 8th November, before Deepavali. As I was late in deciding about this tour, we didn't get any train of our choice with respect to the time of departure and arrival at Varanasi. I could barely manage 6 tickets in Poorva express leaving Howrah at 8:15 AM and reaching my destination at 7:40 PM.

After little bargaining and all we hired 3 ricksaws which took us to Dashaswamedh Ghat. We had booked Alibaba guest house in Munshi Ghat before coming to Varanasi. This was situated inside the dingy lanes and it took us about 10 mins to reach there. My father being aged and suffering from arthritis found it very hard to cross this distance through its lanes bypassing the cows, vehicles, people etc.
Before my visit I heard many words about it's famous aisles. We started feeling it as soon as we reached there. They were some where about as narrow as 4-5ft. However I didn't find anybody getting involved in quarel. They were very helping and accommodative.

There are few things suggested to the tourists who go there. These are Dashaswamedh Ghat,KAshi Viswanath temple,Durga Bari,SankotMochan temple, Tulsi mandir, Ramnagar fort, BHU (Birla Mandir) and Sarnath. You need to hire a cab or auto to cover all these.

We spent 4 days in Varanasi. So I planned to visit the sandhya arati (Evening Prayer) at Dashaswamedh Ghat and Kashi Viswanath Mandir on 9th Nov.
In the morning of 9th Nov,after having little breakfast we planned to visit Kashi Viswanath and from one of the many gates we joined the long queue. Our assumption was that the queue would take us to the temple in an hour or so. But when we didn't progress much after an hour and half I went ahead and found that the queue was common to both Annapurna Mandir and Vishwanath Mandir. The Annpurna Mandir opens once in a year during Deepavali and during this time Devi's Khajana is distributed among the public. People think it a holy event and visit the Mandir throughout the day.
After waiting there for some more time my son (10 Yrs) and I felt tired and bored and hence found our way to Viswanath Temple only, through some other routes.
We completed the puja at Vishwanath Temple by 2:30 PM while my wife and in-laws decided to visit both and waited.

I didn't visit the inside of the city and hence will not be able to comment. But the place Godwalia Chowk near which we stayed seemed to be very crowdy and the traffic was very poorly managed. Better to say there was no such traffic management. There was indeed a police check post but saw them sitting all day in the pandals. None of the traffic rules were obeyed there and it became very difficult to cross even from one side to the other side of the road.

After reaching the guest house somehow my son and we took some rest waiting for my wife and in-laws to come. It was 12 PM when we joined the queue to visit the temple and when none reached till 6 PM, my son and I went to see the Sandhya Arati.

This is one of the best things in Varanasi I would say, and it happens everyday. The ghat was flooded with devotees and spectators. It starts from 6 PM and continues upto 7 PM. People gathers at the place beforehand to get a suitable seat near the Bedis where the Arati is performed. 5 Arati's are performed there by 5 individuals clad in saffron dresses. There are many boats who also offer their service for Darshan at some cost.
We somewhere managed our seat and watched this.
My wife and in-laws returned home at 8 PM. Came to know they waited 6 long hours before entering the mandir.

After their return we didn't have much to do. My wife prepared few cups of tea for entertaining us. Thanks to the elctric tea-kettle that I had received from my sister. It served us well by letting us drink tea in many odd hours. The next day I planned for my father. So far, in Varanasi I could not take him anywhere as he was having pain in the knees and he was not very confident too. Given the distance, the condition of the narrow aisles, the crowd etc. I realised it would be difficult rather impossible for him to walk. So I decided I would have to search for a wheel chair.

Finally we ordered our dinner. The service of the guest house was not so good due to lack of staffs and it took long time before we received our dinner. Then the last thing of the day...sleep.

In the morning of 10th, I started my search and after roaming here and there I got to know few places that provide wheel chairs for such persons who can not walk properly. This service was totally free of cost. You have to deposit some money, Rs 500/1000 along with original photo ID card. These are returned after you return the wheel chair.

I also hired one coolie to pull the wheel chair on the road. I found it not so easy to pull the wheel chair on the bumpy uneven and narrow lanes. We went to the ghat from where my father could see the holy Ganges and then to the Mandir. The police was very cooperative there and helped me through the crowd bypassing the long queues straight to the temple. And thus I fulfilled my wish to make my father visit the ghat and the Vishwanath temple. It took almost 2:30 hrs to return to the hotel after visiting all these places. My family and in-laws were out to visit their relative's house. So I didn't have much thing to do after lunch.


We had two more days left with some places yet to visit. So I went out to book a cab. After a little research I finalised with a travel agent and booked a sumo for the next day's journey. My father expressed no interest as he became too tired and decided to stay home for taking rest.

We got up early in the morning and after having our bath we started. The cab was waiting near Sushil Cinema, Godwalia Chowk. At 8:30 AM we started our journey for sight seeing.

We first visited Durga Bari which is not so far from Godwalia. This is a small Durga Mandir. There is not really much to see in these temples so far as sight seeing is concerned. People who intend to visit Varanasi for sight seeing purposes should bargain with the tour operators excluding these Mandirs. However we visited them and they were ok. Nothing special to mention about. We offered a puja in Sankat Mochan Mandir as well.

The most important among all the places in Varanasi was Birla Temple in BHU, Ramnagar Fort and Sarnath. The BHU campus was huge and clean with all the faculties you could imagine. This is one of the reputed universities in the country. The Birla temple inside the campus is also a good place to visit. It's clean and well maintained surroundings make it special in Varanasi. On visiting the Mandir, we stopped for 30-40 mins for having our breakfast. The quality of the food was also good compared to what we got near Godwalia. Then we set off our journey towards Ramnanagr Fort. It was on the other side of the Ganges and about 20 km from Varanasi. This is a small fort with a museum housed in it. We had to buy tickets costing Rs 20 each to have a look into that. Nothing more to see there. We roamed around the campus of the fort rested a while and returned to our cab to start for the final destination Sarnath.
Sarnath is a city located 13 kilometres north-east of Varanasi near the confluence of the Ganges and the Gomati rivers. After his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, the Buddha went to Sarnath seeking his five former companions. He found them, taught them what he had learned, and they also became enlightened. This place is beautifully maintained and had few constructions. The surroundings are good. There was 80ft tall Buddha statue and a temple. There was a tree under which 5 staues of Budhha and his disciples were kept. We roamed the place for sometime took few snaps and returned to our car. It was almost 1:30 PM and we started for our guest house. The rest of the day was nothing remarkable. As we were staying very near to ghat we made anothefsr round of visit to see the Arati, this time in Rajendra Prasad ghat (beside Dashaswamedh Ghat) with the whole group. Here seven aratis were held by seven performers. I took few snaps of the Arati and the surroundings.
Before I came to Varanasi while collecting information abou this place I came to know of a shop named 'Blue Lassi'. As described this is a must try drink. So we planned to visit that and try. This shop is situated near the no 2 gate so far I remember. Manikarnika Ghat is closer to this place. Apparently, this is like anyother shops you find. The lassi served there was garnished with fruits and was very tasteful. I think there is a speciality which is not very commonly found. It was served in earthen pot. The walls of the shop are filled up with remarks and photoes of the customers mostly foreigners who made this shop famous.

Finally we returned to the guest house.

It was about 9 PM when we returned. Like me other members didn't fill any urge for dinner and hence after having a cup of tea we slept.
It was 12th Nov and we had nothing special already planned. So we decided to visit Aussi ghat in the morning. In Varanasi each Ghat has its own use. Aratis are held in Dashaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnikah Ghat is a cremation ground. Similarly Aussi Ghat is used for bathing and washing purposes.
Aussi Ghat was about 3 kms from Godwalia Chowk. You can also walk along the Ghats and reach there. It could take about 30-40 mins. But as I have my aged in-laws with me we didn't dare explore this. So we hired an auto and reach Aussi Ghat in 10 mins. The Ghat is like any other ghats in Varanasi. However we passed sometime roaming here and there taking some snaps and returned to hotel.
It was the time now to pack our bags and get prepared for our return. Our train was from Mughalsarai and hence we need to hire a cab to reach there from Varanasi.
You can avail auto too.
I and my wife started to explore options to reach Mughalsarai and visit the tour operator's office for a cab at a reasonable price. But because of Deepavali many drivers were out of station and hence the availability was low and the price was high. Finally we made an arrangement for a Sumo which would cost Rs 850 and take us to the Mughasarai station on 13th Nov morning.

We also decided to bring some food items for our friends and relatives. Heard much about Peda (Sweet) in Varanasi. We found a good sweet shop in Bangali Tolla named 'Sudhir Babu's Sweet shop'. We ordered about a kg and went for arranging our dinner. We did a little research and asked here and there and came to know about a shop near Gate No 2. We went there and bought 500gms of Rabri. The cost of Rabri was Rs 400 a kg. You will get at a lesser price elsewhere. But as we had heard many good words about this shop we bought from here. We also bought some hand made roti(chapati) for our dinner and went back to guest house after collecting the Peda we had ordered.

The return journey was painful. We checked out from our hotel around 9:00-9:30 AM as planned and reached Mughal sarai in 30 mins. This is a big junction station so we thought of having good food stalls and other facilities. We had AC tickets and as we had senior members I planned them to take to the upper class waiting room so that they can sit comfortably. But to my astonishment, I observed the opposite. The plight of the station was not good at all. The upper class AC rooms are no different from the 2nd class waiting rooms. There was no checking for the valid ticket holders. Anybody was entering the rooms. I didn't find any suitable food stalls either except some, where you can have biscuits, water, some packed foods etc. There were 2 shops of COMESOON but they hardly have enough provisions to make any choice. However from one stall I got 3 plates of paratha and curry which was not at all good.
Things got worse when we got to know that the train was late by 4:30 hrs.

There was nothing to do except checking the status of the train and everytime I checked I found it getting late by another 30 mins. We got ticket in ANVT-KOAA Express. Later I came to know that it was the worst train in that route. But it was too late then. In the meantime we had our lunch in COMESOON. It took about almost an hour for them to serve us egg curry and rice.

The train arrived at 6:30 PM (about 6:30 hrs late, sheduled at 12:00PM). And we were surprised to see the condition of the AC compratments. A huge crowd of no ticket holders had occupied all the seats. We had to get into lot of altercations to recover our seats and finally we could sit. We came to know that the crowd was due to the 'chat' festival. We found ticket checkers and police staolling in the compartment without taking any action. There was no pantry car and as the train was late we didn't find any food being sold in the stations also where it halted for some more time.

Somehow we reached Kolkata at 1:30 PM after 6:00 hrs from the scheduled time.

Important things:

Wheel chairs contacts: As mentioned earlier these are given free of cost but ICards and an amount(Rs 500/1000) are kept as security. These are returned after the wheel chair is returned. It is available from the shop behind the police check post at Godwalia Chowk (Near Dashaswamedh Ghat). You can also get it from 'Samaj Sangathan' near Sushil Cinema near Godwalia Chowk.

Kashi Viswanath Mandir and the Ghats have made Varanasi famous. This is also famous for silk saree facories. There are a number of them. You will find the drivers of auto/cab etc. will insist you to visit those factories. They obviously have their own interest. I didn't visit any as I was running short of time. If you visit any and think of buying please bargain. Another thing I came to know that Varanasi is famous for good musical instruments. If you have interest and time permits you can try.
#6 Dec 13th, 2015, 23:56
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#6
Some pictures at Varanasi
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DSCN0357.jpg 1-DSCN0361.jpg 1-DSCN8855.jpg 1-DSCN8889.jpg 
#7 Dec 14th, 2015, 17:38
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#7
Nice and informative TR. Thank you.

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