The Holy City of Varanasi, India: whl.travel’s Newest Destination

  • whl.travel
  • 13 April 2011


For many western travellers in search of a destination completely unlike their homes, India looms large by virtue of its unspoiled beaches, ancient historical monuments, colourful and crazy urban living, majestic natural landscapes and, of course, its place in the history of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Ghats, Varanasi, India

The Ghats of the River Ganges are perhaps the holiest spot in Varanasi or arguably even India. Thousands of pilgrims flock to Varanasi to bathe in Ganges with a belief that it will physically, mentally and spiritually cleanse them. There are around 100 riverside Ghats, most of which are associated with legends and mythologies, while some are even privately owned. Most are bathing Ghats, while others are used for cremations. Photo courtesy of Yogita Ranapaheli

Amidst so much, one especially distinctive city is ancient and spiritual Varanasi, also  known as Benares, located at the heart of this vast country’s Ganges Valley. Believed to have been founded by the Hindu deity Lord Shiva around 5,000 years ago (making it one of the oldest cities in the world), Varanasi is regarded as holy to Jains and Buddhists, and perhaps the most important pilgrimage site for Hindus, who visit it from all over the world.

While Varanasi is generously supplied with ancient Buddhist stupas, Hindu temples and many other things to see and do, it is perhaps most famously known as the place where legions of devotees gather and bathe in the holy River Ganges, the “river of India” believed by many Hindus to be the source of life. The amazing spectacle at any of the numerous Ghats (riverfront areas with steps leading down to the water) is not to be missed. Guided Varanasi tours are highly recommended as the maze of streets hides many treasures and the riverside ceremonies often require explanation.

Grand prayer, Varanasi, India

Dasaswamedh Ghat is the most important Ghat (and one of the oldest) in Varanasi, India. This legendary Ghat has a beautiful river front view, but the main attraction is 'Aarti,' the evening prayer ceremony. Five young priests perform the choreographed ritual with lit lamps, incense and conch shells in perfect harmony. Children also sell floating butter lamps; the view of them, when lit and floating on the river, is stupendous. Photo courtesy of Yogita Ranapaheli

Varanasi is easily the cultural capital of India and home to many Indian scholars, philosophers, musicians and artisans. It is therefore no surprise that the city is a great place to shop for local trinkets and souvenirs, especially silk products. The quality of embroidery is among the best in Asia and the handmade local garments the perfect souvenir for loved ones back home.

Of course, travellers of all tastes should not fail to sample the city’s mouthwatering vegetarian cuisine, with tasty local specialities such as kachoris (fried pastry puffs stuffed with spicy lentils), puris (puffed wheat bread served with vegetables) and crispy samosas (triangle-shaped dumplings stuffed with curried potatoes and peas). Hungry visitors will find the best and most authentic Indian cuisine in the many Varanasi restaurants, some attached to the Varanasi hotels that cater to all budgets and are open to pilgrims and leisure travellers alike.

Women bathing in Ganges River, Varanasi India

In Varanasi, India, Hindus dip themselves in the River Ganges, for it is believed that the waters wash away one's sins and purify the soul. At many Ghats, like this Assi Ghat, there are also different bathing times allotted to men and women. Photo courtesy of Yogita Ranapaheli

TraveltoVaranasi.com is the perfect gateway through which to experience this amazing city in north India, and to book Varanasi hotels and tours. Proudly managed by the hardworking team of Tathagata Journeys, the web portal lets travellers book first-rate hotels and tours that will provide the most authentic Varanasi adventure. In line with the philosophy of whl.travel, the website also features a number of responsible hotels and tours that ensure tourism goes hand in hand with the sustainable development of the community and the preservation of the local environment.

“Being the hub of culture and spirituality in India, Varanasi is a popular and beloved destination. We are therefore very fortunate to be a part of it and we look forward to facilitating travel in this destination. We aim to promote small accommodation providers in Varanasi and also some very experiential tours and activities,” dedicated Tathagata team member Yogita Ranapaheli shared. Tathagata Journeys is also the whl.travel local connection for Darjeeling and Sikkim.

TraveltoVaranasi.com is the latest whl.travel destination in India, following Chennai, Pune, Goa and Hyderabad, in addition to Darjeeling and Sikkim.

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whl.travel is one of the largest global online travel-booking networks catering to independent travelers headed off the beaten path, often in the developing world. The extensive whl.travel network today taps into the strengths of local tourism experts who, alone, are local leaders, but together have become a forceful planet-wide presence for the right kind of tourism, bringing to major markets all the local opportunities that can have such a positive impact on hosts and visitors. Visit the whl.travel website.
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Asia, cities, festivals & events, food & drink, handicrafts & shopping, holy sites, India, local knowledge, new local connections, South-Central Asia, WHL Group news, whl.travel,

2 Responses to “The Holy City of Varanasi, India: whl.travel’s Newest Destination”

  1. Teamworkz says:

    The site looks great, congratulations on the launch.

  2. Raj says:

    There’s no doubt that Varanasi is a great destination that attracts not just Hindus, but travellers from all parts of the world. I’m sure the website featured herein (http://www.traveltovaranasi.com) will start connecting interested travellers to Varanasi in no time.

    Congratulations to Navin, Pravin, Yogita and the entire team at Tathagata Journeys! They have come up with some really nice, informative and useful sites within a short span of time. We would love to see more in future too!

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