Varanasi, or Benares, (also known as Kashi), is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Sitting on 6.5 km of the bank of the sacred Ganges River, Varanasi has been a cultural centre of North India for several thousand years.
For centuries, Hindus have sought moksha (release from the cycle of life, death and reincarnation) by dying in Varanasi or having their remains cremated on the ghats, or steps, alongside the Ganges. That is why Hindus from across India and beyond, often choose to live out their last days in this 5,000 year-old city, making it a major centre for pilgrimage.
I lived in this intriguing city for six months and am keen to share its wonders and mysteries with my guests. Plus a few favourite places to eat. And shop.
This tour follows immediately after The Cloth and Stone Tour to Gujarat, and is designed for guests on that tour to continue on to Varanasi for this optional extra week. Alternatively, people can join us just for the Varanasi tour.
The tour will be led by myself and a local guide and is limited to six guests.
Bhuj to Ahmedabad.
- For those who have been on the Gujarat tour, we make our way back to Ahmedabad at the end of the tour, overnighting there. There is no charge for the transfer from Bhuj to Ahmedabad in our private tour bus.
- For those who have not been to Gujarat with us, you will join us in Ahmedabad for that evening (the hotel can pick you up from airport or railway station).
- Or, if you prefer, you can make your way to Varanasi and meet us there on Day 2. If you choose this option, ask for an amended cost which will not include the flights to Varanasi and night stay in Ahmedabad.
- Dinner in Ahmedabad included.
Ahmedabad to Varanasi via Delhi
- We take the 7:10am flight from Ahmedabad to Varanasi via Delhi, arriving about midday.
- We settle into our glorious heritage hotel at Assi Ghat right on the banks of the river for the afternoon and/or take a walk around the neighbourhood.
- Lunch will be in a great little place I know overlooking the Ganges.
- In the evening we meet our local guide and take a boat ride past Manikarnika Ghat, one of the biggest cremation grounds in India and later witness the evening Aarti ceremony at Dashashwamedh Ghat.
- Dinner at another little place I know.
- Breakfast and airfares from Ahmedabad included.
Varanasi and Sarnath
- Our guide picks us up for an early morning walk to Assi Ghat (right outside the front door of our hotel) to take part in Subah-e-Benares a cultural program where guests can experience the spirituality of Varanasi and see the Yajna ceremony performed by women priests at an open fire.
- We then take another boat ride in the Ganges to visit the Golden Temple and Annapurna temple, and a walk through the labyrinthine streets of the old city.
- Back to our palatial hotel for breakfast.
- After breakfast, we take a trip to Sarnath village where Buddha gave his first teaching after attaining enlightenment. Sarnath has become an important centre for the world’s Buddhists and we visit the Buddhist temple, Tibetan university and monastery.
- In the afternoon, we visit some more important temples of Varanasi and Benares Hindu University and its campus.
- Breakfast included
Varanasi and Ramnagar
- After breakfast at our hotel, our guide takes us on a walking tour in southern part of town which includes:
- a traditional Vedic school where children from the age of five study the Vedas to become priest or monks;
- a hospice where elderly people live and wait for their death to attain moksha (release from the cycle of life, death and reincarnation by dying in Varanasi);
- visit to the 400 year old house of Goswami Tulsidas, poet and saint;
- historic Lolarka Kund (pond), one of the oldest sacred sites of Varanasi, where the popular belief is that if childless couples take a dip in the pond on a particular day, they will be blessed with a child;
- time permitting, we can take a walk through the Muslim area to see the famous Benares silk weaving.
- Lunch somewhere interesting.
- After lunch, we head across the eastern side of the river to visit the 17th-century Ramnagar Fort and palace. It houses an eccentric museum with vintage American cars, jewel-encrusted sedan chairs, a superb weaponry section and an extremely unusual astrological clock.
- Whilst on that side of the river, we can take a refreshment break a tiny yoghurt shop with a big reputation for serving up Varanasi’s freshest, creamiest, fruit-filled lassis for over ninety years.
- In the evening, we enjoy a private concert with Deobrat Mishra from the Academy of Indian Classical Music.
- Breakfast included
Varanasi and Mehndiganj
- After breakfast at our hotel, I take you to a village outside of Varanasi where I spent some time teaching English to the younger students. We will meet with the teachers and some students.
- We will enjoy a village lunch on the rooftop of the school, made especially for us by some of the village women.
- In the afternoon, we visit the amazing astronomical observatory, Jantar Mantar constructed by Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II of Jaipur: one of five he constructed in north India between 1724 and 1730. The observatory incorporates multiple buildings of unique form, each with a specialised function for astronomical measurement.
- We will also have time to amble around the streets of Assi Ghat where I lived, have chai at my favourite chai wallah’s, maybe meet some old friends in the market, do some shopping.
- Breakfast included.
Varanasi and Mirzapur
- We get out of town with a picnic lunch to visit the ancient Chunar Fort . The fort’s history spans from earliest settlement in 56 BC and then changed hands many times as one ruler conquered the next. In 1772 it fell to the British Raj and was held by them up until 1947 when India gained independence.
- We return to our hotel for rest or more walking along the ghats or through streets and markets.
- Dinner at the hotel rooftop restaurant overlooking the Ganges.
- Breakfast included
- End of tour.
- Flights to Delhi (included in cost) or other centres by own arrangement and own cost.
- Breakfast included
We presently do not have a date for the next Timeless Varanasi Tour.
If you are interested in taking this tour, please contact me for more details.
The TOUR FEE (tba) includes:
- Travel from Bhuj to Ahmedabad in private vehicle – for those who have been on the Cloth & Stone Tour of Gujarat
- Flights from Ahmedabad to Varanasi (via Delhi) and return to Delhi at end of tour
*** Flying in from elsewhere? Contact me for cost of tour less the flights and accommodation in Ahmedabad ***
- All tour accommodation
- Dinner in Ahmedabad
- All breakfasts
- A constant supply of bottled water
- All ground travel in taxis and/or auto-ricks
- Australian guide for the whole tour
- Local guide in Varanasi
- Admission to all monuments in itinerary
- Tip to drivers
- A downloadable booklet with information about our destinations
The TOUR FEE does not include:
- International flights
- Connecting travel within India except for those mentioned above
- Meals other than those mentioned above
- Admission and guides to monuments not specified in the organised tours
- Camera charges if applicable
- Tips to guides and other individuals, laundry, beverages.
PLEASE NOTE: The accommodation indicated in the itinerary is accurate at time of publishing. On very rare occasions, our preferred accommodation may be unavailable. In this instance, similar accommodation will be booked.
- An EARLY BIRD discount of $250 applies if you book and pay your deposit 3 months before departure date;
- For every person you introduce to Kasu Tours and bring on the tour, you will receive $100 off the price of your tour (may be used with other discounts up to a total of $350).
- If you gather a group of 6 people (including yourself) to come on the tour, a discount of $350 applies to all six people (cannot be used with any other discounts).
- If you have ever purchased something at Kasu Emporium, you receive a discount of $100 (may be used with other discounts up to a total of $350)
Comparing prices? Some things to look out for to help you decide >>>>
TO SECURE YOUR PLACE ON THE TOUR
- Contact me for an application form.
- Your deposit (plus Single Supplement if applicable) is due with your application to ensure a place on the tour.
- The deposit is used to secure hotel bookings, and other services.
- The deposit is non-refundable in the event of your cancellation. However, if there is a waiting list to join the tour when you cancel and your place can be filled, you may be refunded part or all of your deposit.
- There are only 6 places available on the tour and bookings will be processed in the order of receipt of deposits.
- Deposits received after the tour quota is filled will be returned and the client placed on the waiting list.
Check out the GALLERY for more images from Varanasi.