Varanasi and the Holi Ganges

September 18, 2019

Varanasi is the most sacred city for Hinduism, characterized by the typical ghat, stairs that end up in the river. It's a web of small alleyways and markets, where every good Hindu must go once in their life to bathe in the Ganges river.

Prayer on the river Ganges

Can a trip to India be considered complete without seeing Varanasi, to pay homage to the Ganges, the sacred river of the Hindus? Maybe not. Varanasi is the most revered city by Hindus, characterized by the typical ghats, flights of steps that end in the river. Full of narrow streets and markets, it is easy to get lost here, where every good Hindu must come at least once in his life to bathe in the waters of the Ganges.

Boats on the Ganges river
Bustling landscape of the river Ganges

The faithful must plunge from at least five different ghats. Every morning, in Varanasi, better if aboard a local boat, you see Hindus who begin their ablutions. In fact, according to Hinduism, the western bank of the Ganges is the only place in the world where it is possible to escape the samsara, or the cycle of death and rebirth. This is why many faithful also choose to come here to die or have their ashes scattered here. The pyres for cremation burn without stopping and in the evening the Brahmins dance holding illuminated sculptures in their hands. Instead, ordinary people let the flames that guard their desires float on the Ganges' waters.

Attending these moments of local life is an exciting show for every visitor who travels to this city. In Varanasi there is also an important pilgrimage destination, the Golden Temple or Visvanath temple dedicated to Shiva, with its gold-plated roof.

Man rowing a boat on Ganges
The ghats of Varanasi are full of the faithful

Where is Varanasi

Varanasi is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in nothern India.

The Ganges

The Ganges crosses the plains of northern India and Bangladesh, covering a distance of about 2500 km from its source, in the Gangotri glacier in the Himalayas. It flows into the Gulf of the Himalayas, forming a delta in the Sundarbans region. It has always been fundamental to Hinduism, so much so as to be personified in the Ganga goddess.

The Ganges, with its hydrographic basin, supports one of the most populated regions of the planet. Many Indian Hindu families hold a bottle of Ganges' water in their homes, even for family members to drink at the point of death, if necessary.

Ganges river in Varanasi
Boats on the shores of river Ganges

Would you like to see the Ganges? Here are our tailormade trips to India!