Varanasi, India

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Varanasi Hotels

Varanasi is a large and sprawling city set on the banks of the shimmering River Ganges in the northeastern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Hailed as the holiest of India’s 7 sacred cities, Varanasi’s streets are rich with copper-coloured temples, heavenly hermitages and ancient ashrams. Varanasi is also a booming cultural hub, boasting numerous year-round art and music festivals, and showcasing endless buzzing markets of handwoven silks, artisan jewellery and sweet-scented perfumes.

Things to see

There are hundreds of inspirational holy sites to visit in Varanasi’s old city, but first on your list should be the Kashi Vishwaneth Temple, arguably the most famous Hindu temple in all India. The temple’s heritage dates back to ancient times, but its current structure sings of intricate 18th century Indian architecture, with red bulbed domes, ornate towers and incense-rich gold-flecked corridors. After, visit the nearby Ramnagar Fort, an imposing sandstone structure built in the Mughal style, with scenic pavilions, flower-laden courtyards and delicately carved balconies. The Fort sits atop Varanasi’s main ghat - a stone-stepped embankment, layered with multi-coloured buildings, that slopes down to the shimmering Ganges. Walk through the ghat - spotting magical wall paintings along the way - and discover Jantar Mantar, a bewildering and mystical gigantic sundial, built over 200 years ago. Its adjoining palm-lined grounds make for a relaxing and uncrowded afternoon stroll.

Hotels in Varanasi

Treat yourself to a slice of modern luxury by staying in one of the central 4-star Varanasi hotels. Set in contemporary complexes with elegant, understated rooms, these hotels offer stellar service, where hosts and concierges will attend to your every need - some offer outdoor pools, which are ideal for a refreshing dip. Dozens of inexpensive old-world hotels rest right beside the Ganges, providing a true taste of Indian culture, where the hypnotic sounds of street music fills the air. For a family-friendly holiday, a number of affordable inns rest outside of the centre, and offer large air-conditioned rooms.

Where to stay

For a resplendent stay in an affluent area, with scores of vast green spaces and an abundance of fine-dining Indian restaurants, stay west of the centre - away from the ghats - toward the Nadesar area. If you want complete immersion into the local charm of true Varanasi life, stay in the ghat alongside the Ganges and explore the endless markets which are famed for their unique and beautiful arts and crafts, from silk shawls to silver bracelets. If you want a perfect balance of the 2 areas, with easy access to each, stay in Varanasi’s modern centre.

How to get to Varanasi

Varanasi is one of India’s most important transportation hubs, and so is well served by air, road and rail. If you’re flying to India, head to Delhi Airport - which serves British locations, such as London and Manchester - and catch a short connecting flight to Lal Bahadar Shastri Airport, a mere 11 miles from Varanasi centre. A pre-booked taxi is the most efficient and inexpensive way to travel from the airport. If you’re travelling from another Indian city, Varanasi’s train station serves many locations, including Mumbai and New Delhi. Once in the city, get around via inexpensive taxis or unforgettable rickshaw rides.

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