Anyone been to Varanasi?(9 Posts)
Varanasi is on my bucket list of places to visit - and I'm at the very early stages of planning a trip there in 2017. It'll be me (in my 50s) and a friend (in her 40s) - we're looking at staying in a guesthouse as opposed to an hotel, and getting the cheapest flight we can. Could do with advice on the best time of year to go, things to see and do, languages spoken, places and dishes to eat - just general advice really. We're up for most things, but not terribly fit, so anything involving long walks in the heat is probably out! We'll be on a budget, but if there are any experiences that cost a bit, but are unmissable, we could always factor that into the saving Thanks if you can help!
Have you thought about a homestay? Your host will be able to advise on everything mentioned.
We visted as part of a 3 week trip to India, November is a good time to visit as it's not too warm and if you go early in the month you can experience diwali which is amazing! Although travel can be difficult as it's the Indian equivalent of Christmas everyone is going home and flights/trains get booked up early and quickly.
Things to do are limited really, there is only 1 temple they will let westerns in, they also don't allow you around certain parts of the river where they carry out the cremations but you'll be directed up and around these areas.
mostly we people watched while walking along the banks of the ganges or through the streets which are like a maze lots of cobbled streets and steps so you need good shoes.
You can take a day trip out to where Buddha found enlightenment which is a little out of the city and you can do a sunrise/sunset boat ride.
The best place we found to eat was a tiny restaurant attached to a guest house with 2 tables on a balcony overlooking the river they served the best south India thalis (mixture of curries with chapatti) you could sit and watch all the pilgrims coming to bath in the river and there was a family having a blessing with some cows which was facinating.
We also stayed in a guest house it was a small family run business and they offered suggestions on where to eat etc. I believe I found it on trip advisor but possibly was hostel world/ hostel bookers.
I would combine your trip with another city such as Delhi or agra if you want to visit the taj.
Take lots of imodium though as you will be ill! We came back with amoebic dysentery
I was in Varanasi in January and it is wonderful - pretty intense but definitely worth a visit. I hired a tour guide to take me around for a few days, it really made Hingis easier - travelled on my own and about the same age! Happy to pass on his details if you send me a PM.
We went to Varanasi 20 years ago this September.
We got there early October and it was quite hot but not unbearable. We stayed there for 4 days and one of them we went to Khajuraho.
On that occasion we travelled around India for just over 3 weeks and managed to see a lot of India.
We landed in Dheli but didn't visit it as it was already very busy and poluted, then went to Amritsar, Manai, Varanasi followed by 9 days in Rajistan. Ended up in Agra for 2 nights.
How many days is your trip planned for?
We always asked our Riksha drivers for pure vegan restaurants to eat at. They were always serving fresh an delicious food.
10 years later we went to South India, followed the same rule, had 2 kids under 8 with us and never had any problems with Dheli belly
Go between November and February. The heat and humidity really ramps up in April and May and then the monsoon starts around July lasting till September.
I agree that I would stay in a home stay and hire a guide too. I made the mistake of going to a couple of Hindu temples by myself in other cities in India (Calcutta and Kanchipuram) and didn't enjoy the experience. I felt quite threatened by one of the priests in Kanchipuram (he was demanding a huge donation) and this was the only time in India I've ever been scared for my safety. But a guide would prevent this kind of situation.
In terms of language, English is widely spoken in India cities. Because there are so many languages spoken across the country (and people in the south, for example don't speak Hindi), it's often the language that Indians from different states use to communicate between themselves.
There's a good forum called India Mike that you might want to check out.
I love India, but there are always moments on each trip when I hate it too. Be prepared to alternate between the two - it's certainly not a country that inspires indifference!
Oh yes, Khajuraho is lovely and will give you the oppirtunity to see more historical / archaeological temple sites. Orrcha is also worth visiting. TIgers in the wild (best in Madhya Pradesh) are breathtaking.
Thanks so much, all - am on my way to bed else I'd reply more fully, just didn't want anyone to think I'd vanished and wasn't reading the responses.
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