Tourists planning a tour of Varanasi will find that the city being a holy city and a pilgrimage spot has more temples and ghats than any other city in India. So much so that a list of Places to Visit in Varanasi is dominated by ghats and temples, and there are only a few attractions devoted to art, culture and historical heritage.
Browse through this list of places to visit in Varanasi and contact us for a customized itinerary listing the attractions that interest you the most. Alternatively, just book a pre-designed tour of Varanasi from the tours listed here.
Sarai Mohana – Weaver’s Village:
A major attraction of Varanasi that is neither a temple nor a Ghat and is located off the beaten path, the Sarai Mohana Weaver’s Village is, as the name implies, a village of the traditional Benaras Silk Weavers.
A visit to this village is more of an experience than just a sightseeing tour, as it takes you directly to the weaver’s loom for a wonderful insight into the days of intricate workmanship that goes into weaving a single piece of the famous Benaras Silk Sarees.
Visit the weavers of Varanasi at their workshops, talk to them and get to know the different designs that can be woven on the looms; and end the tour with a extravagant shopping experience of the Benaras Silk scarves, stoles and sarees.
This is one place that hardly needs any introduction! A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit, Sarnath is on the list of places to visit on most tour itineraries. If you are visiting Varanasi, Sarnath is a natural add-on excursion.
The birthplace of Buddhism, Sarnath is a major pilgrimage site for Buddhist monks and devotees. The importance of its historic ruins and the collection of Buddhist temples made by international Buddhist communities from Japan, China, Thailand, Burma, and Sri Lanka make it an interesting place to visit for other tourists as well.
Some of the most visited sites in Sarnath include the Chaukhandi Stupa, the Dhamek Stupa & Monastery Ruins, Ashoka Pillar base, the Sarnath Archaeological Museum, and the international temples.
Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Lord Buddha met his first disciples. Originally built somewhere around the 4th or 5th Century as a large earthen mound, the Chaukhandi Stupa was later modified to include an Octagonal tower in the 16th Century to commemorate the visit of the Mughal Emperor Humayun.
The Dhamek Stupa & Monastery Ruins is another major site that is visited by tourists and pilgrims alike. It was here that Buddha gave his first sermon in the deer park. To mark the site, King Ashoka built a structure in 249 BCE, and it was modified into the Dhamek Stupa in 500 CE; parts of the original structure remain in the base.
Standing at an impressive 128 feet high and 93 feet in diameter, the Dhamek Stupa is one of the most massive structures in Sarnath. Floral & geometric patterns cover the base walls and ruins of a monastery that once housed 1500 monks surround the Stupa.
Ashoka Pillar is another site that is much visited, mainly due its location adjacent to the Dhamek Stupa. Much of the structure is in ruins and the four-lion capital that inspired the National Emblem of India is housed in the Sarnath Archaeological Museum after it fell off its perch on the pillar.
Sarnath Archaeological Museum: Sarnath was once a great centre of learning, until it was attacked by invaders and went into oblivion by the 13th Century, and was rediscovered by accident in the 18th Century, leading to excavations in the 19th Century.
The Sarnath Archaeological Museum was constructed in the early 20th Century to house the artefacts found during these excavations. Built on the form of a vihara, with cells and a main chapel with a verandah in the front, the Sarnath Archaeological Museum offers a serene setting to view the ancient Buddhist sculptures preserved here.
Buddhist Temples by International Communities: Built by the Buddhist communities of Thailand, Burmese, Japanese, Sri Lanka, China and Tibet, these Buddhist Temples each feature a statue of Buddha. Architecture differs and follows the traditional style of these communities, making a visit to these temples a more enriching experience than ever.
All in all an Excursion to Sarnath is one of the major highlights of a holiday tour in Varanasi.
Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum:
One of the oldest museums of India, the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum in Varanasi has been celebrating the exquisiteness of Indian Art & Culture since the early 20th Century.
At its present premises within the Benaras Hindu University, the museum continues to enthral visitors with its varied collection of artefacts, which range from Buddhist & Hindu sculptures to Mughal miniatures, brocade textiles and a wonderful coin collection.