Four days in and around Varanasi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the holiest pilgrimage site of the Hindu faith. Varanasi was situated along the sacred Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh State of India.

The Ganges River was flooded during my visit. The water level rose over many of the ghats and I didn’t get to see much of the religious rituals performed along the riverbanks, particularly the open cremations and large pujas (prayer rituals).

I did get to see a more intimate puja at one of the small ghats and went on a auto rickshaw tour to a weaving district and around Banaras Hindu University. I also took a short excursion to Sarnath, the site where Gautama Buddha performed his first sermon, and then went, across the river, to Ram Nagar for a visit to Ram Nagar Fort and the Durga Temple.

Itinerary Overview

  • Bodhdaya: Mahabodhi Temple
Day 1
  • Gaya
  • Varanasi
  • Gaya to Varanasi by Train
  • Varanasi Hostel Check-in
Day 2
  • Varanasi
  • Ganges River Walk
  • Varanasi City Tour by Autorickshaw
Day 3
  • Varanasi
  • Sarnath
  • In and around Sarnath
  • Ganges River Puja (Prayer Ritual)
Day 4
  • Varanasi
  • Ramnagar
  • Khajuraho
  • In and around Ramnagar
  • Varanasi to Khajuraho by Train
  • Khajuraho: Kamasutra Sex Temples
  • Northern India
  • South and Southeast Asia

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Day 1

  • 5:00am – Departure form Gaya Junction Railway Station
  • 5:00am to 10:20am – Ride train from Gaya to Varanasi
    • Sleeper class ticket – R145
  • 10:20am – Arrival at Varanasi Junction Railway Station
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Elvis Guesthouse (recommended by the auto rickshaw driver) – R20

Varanasi Hostel

  • Check-in at Elvis Guest House
    • Single room with shared TB – R300 per room per night
  • Eat at Elvis Guest House
    • Chicken Briyani – R90
    • Coffee – R15
    • Chai – R15
  • Eat at Elvis Guest House
    • Malai Kofta – R95
    • Plain paratha – R10
    • Chapati – R5

Day 2

  • Early morning walk to the Ganges River
  • Eat at Elvis Guest House
    • Veg. Pullao – R55
    • Coffee – R15

Varanasi City Tour

  • Auto rickshaw rental – R400 per auto rickshaw for the whole day (shared the ride with two other people)
  • Auto rickshaw tour
    • Weaving Center
    • Banaras Hindu University
      • Vishwanath Temple
      • Eat at sidestreet stall outside Vishwanath temple
      • Samosa and Chai – R20
      • Cold coffee – R25
    • Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
    • Stopover at Varanasi Junction Railway Station
      • Buy onward train ticket
        • Varanasi to Khajuraho
          • Sleeper class – R230
        • Khajuraho to Gwalior
          • Sleeper class – R170
      • Withdraw from ATM machine
  • Puja (prayer ritual) at one of the small ghats
  • Eat at Haifa Restaurant
    • Thali and Lassi – R205
  • Laundry at Elvis Guest House – R50

Day 3

Sarnath Day Tour

  • Ride chartered auto rickshaw from Varanasi to Sarnath- R200 (one-way; shared by 4 people)
  • Sarnath walking tour
    • Sarnath Archeological Museum
    • Sri Digamber Jain Temple
    • Dhamek Stupa
    • Mulagandhakuti Vihara Gateway
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Elvis Guest house (3 stops)
  • Eat at Elvis Guest House
    • Aloo Paneer
    • Chai
    • Rice

Day 4

  • Check-out at Elvis Guest House

Ramnagar Day Tour

  • Ride auto rickshaw to Lanka (Outside Banaras University Main Gate)
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Tengra Mod (across the Ganger River, at the other end of the Vishwa Sundari Bypass Bridge)
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Ram Nagar town center
  • Ram Nagar Fort
    • Admission fee – R20 (local) / R150 (foreigner)
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Durga (Mandir) Temple
  • Ashkir Sagar
  • Durga Temple
  • Ride auto rickshaw to Varanasi Junction Railway Station
  • 5:45pm – Departure from Varanasi
  • 5:45pm to 5:15am – Ride train from Varanasi to Khajurao