I have been in Varanasi for almost a month and have become pretty familiar with the labyrinth of gallis and area around the ghats, so much so that I wanted to share my favourite things to see and do in the holy city.
I have enjoyed staying at the centrally located Munshi Ghat which is perhaps 4 ghats along from the Main Ghat. The family who owns my “Peace Home” guesthouse have been wonderful and helpful hosts- I highly recommend staying here.
I love traditional Indian lassi’s- the milk, curd (yogurt), water + either salt (salty lassi) or sugar (sweet lassi) that is skillfully wisked to perfection and served in a terracotta cup. I cringe when the clay cups they are served in are thrown aside and broken once the delectable lassi has been finished! The Blue Lassi Shop makes delicious one’s with a dash of the fatty cream and a few pistashio on top for 20 rupee. Located near the The Kashi Vishwanath (Golden Temple) – another must see in Varanasi. Built in 1780, Vishwanath is considered one of the holiest temples of India foreigners are now able to visit this temple, however do not bring your camera or any objects that might be considered dangerous (eg. swiss army knife).
For musical events, Tulsi Ghat is named after 16th century poet Tulsidas and seems to have concerts ranging from Kathak to Sitar and vocals regularly.
To save plastic from the landfill (read: road) you can refill your water bottle at Vivero Organico at Assi Ghat for 2rs/litre. They also have their own hand-rolled incense (no artificial oil scents), delicious apple cake and brown bread made on the premises. For other organic products ranging from jams and Auroville cheeses to beauty products look out for ORGANICS on the main road from Godoulia heading to Assi Ghat.
You can find street venders selling delicious vege samosas (3rs) and Southern India favourites, idli and dosa (from 10rs). If you are needing a break from Indian food, there are many cafes catering to international tastebuds off of the main gallis. The Mona Lisa Café does surprisingly good pastas (according to my Italian friend!) and Spicy Bites is popular with Japanese travelers seeking miso satiation!
Engage with the locals and find yourself going to a wedding, sharing a chai at the side of the road, flying a kite (2rs to buy) with the kids who are amazing gurus of this most popular sport!