What are some cool places in Varanasi

5 reasons why I will not visit Varanasi a second time

Vacation in India | 33 comments Last updated on January 16, 2020

Actually, it works like this on my travels: I visit a city, am happy about what I have discovered and move to the next place. Then I often think that I would like to come back in the future. But under no circumstances do I want to go back to Varanasi. In this article I will give you five reasons why this is and why you should perhaps better steer clear of this city.

1. In Varanasi we were ripped off in many places

There are people everywhere who want to rip you off. But in Varanasi I felt that particularly intensely. In other cities, Indians have warned us about the fraudsters in Varanasi. Still, I was surprised at the size.

For example, there was the bicycle rickshaw driver who suddenly asked twice the agreed price at the end of our tour. There was the skipper who asked for 200 rupees just for entering his boat. And the “volunteers” at the ghats, who showed us around without being asked, assured us that everything was free of charge, and then asked for twenty times our donation. Granted, we didn't give much. But if the guys offer us something for free, then I have no understanding that we are forced to make a "donation" of the specified amount. If you play with open cards from the start, there is nothing wrong with that. But of course it wasn't like that.

The situation was topped by the fact that on the way back we even met a man who yelled at me extremely aggressively about our donation amount. I'm sure that it would even have become physical if I hadn't just moved on at some point.

All in all, I always had the feeling that I was being ripped off in town. I can live with it when I pay a little more than a local. But in Varanasi I felt like Westerners were being systematically ripped off.

If you want to get your own picture of Varanasi, then I recommend that you take a personal guide. Experience has shown that travel guides save you from intrusive sellers and people who want to rip you off. In retrospect, we regret exploring Varanasi on our own. Probably we would have gotten a lot more of the beautiful sides of the city through a guide.

If you are also looking for a private tour, you can find your guide for Varanasi here.

2. The traffic is just plain chaotic

We are now more chaotic than usual from India. The fact that many motorcycles do not stick to the direction of travel is nothing new for us. Cows on the road no longer surprise us. Nevertheless, the chaotic traffic in Varanasi is particularly annoying because everything is even more extreme. The alleys are very narrow and I often had no other chance than jumping to the side when a moped was shot from the front. Whether I step into one of the numerous cow pats in such a situation is of course my problem. With this ruthlessness I simply have no words.
It also happened several times that drivers simply looked backwards or at their cell phones and thus had no way of knowing what they were heading towards.

The traffic gets even crazier with thousands of pilgrims filling the streets. The scene was perfect thanks to the consistently honking motorcycles and rikshaw drivers who wanted to convince us of their services everywhere. I would have preferred not to leave our hostel at all.

3. Varanasi is incredibly dirty

The hygienic conditions in India are known to be very questionable. But Varanasi tops by worlds what we have experienced so far. Huge mountains of rubbish are piling up between the houses, huge swarms of flies are buzzing in the alleys and the stench everywhere is so unbearable that I had to hold my breath. A man who relieved himself in the middle of the street has burned himself into our minds about the cityscape. I don't think I'm very squeamish, but the dirt in Varanasi was just too much for me.

4. There are more exciting things to discover in India than a filthy river and pyre

In Varanasi you can basically see the Ganges with its ghats, in which the dead are buried. As you surely know, the Ganges is sacred to the Hindus. They believe that with a burial in the Ganges they will avoid being born again.

As much as the Indians revere the Ganges, they let it be filthy. Now it's just a brown broth full of chemicals and human remains that flows down the river bed. Many Hindus bathe in this "water" or wash their clothes in it. Some travelers praise the spiritual atmosphere. I just feel sick at the thought that the Indians even drink the water and walk around all day in the clothes they pulled through the dirt before. Due to the narrow streets, it is almost impossible to avoid touching the pilgrims after their bath.

What I found interesting, however, was the pyre on the bank of the Ganges. We encountered a completely different set of values ​​here. But to be honest: It's not necessarily worth the effort! There are so much more inspiring places to discover in India. Instead of checking out Varanasi, check out the Himalayas or travel to southern India! For example, you prefer to spend your time in Amritsar, Ladakh, Madurai or Mysore.

5. The temples in Varanasi are unspectacular

Visiting temples is a must in almost every Indian city. At the recommendation of our accommodation, we took a rikshaw to several temples. But to be honest: In Varanasi we saw the ugliest temples of the entire trip. Some were even totally filthy. In any case, nothing to see.

In fairness I have to say that we didn't stop at the Golden Temple of Varanasi on the tour, which is said to be very beautiful. However, if I believe the reviews on Tripadvisor, then as a non-Hindu you won't get inside anyway. That's why we saved ourselves this way.

The most important corners in Varanasi

There must be some reason why so many travelers are drawn to Varanasi. If you still want to see the city, then at the end there is an overview of the most important "sights" of the city. But if you ask me: Save yourself the way!

Addendum: In the Fernsuchtblog I came across an article that gives you a lot more information about Varanasi. So if you still want to travel to the holy city, check out the article Varanasi: Come to Die? from Isolde on.

Unfortunately, I don't associate any good memories with Varanasi. However, many other India vacationers feel a strong fascination for the city and are enthusiastic. This article reflects my personal opinion and has absolutely no claim to an objective presentation. If you want, find out more about Varanasi from other sources. After five months in India, however, I would advise you to go to other destinations in the vast country,