Religious tourism in Banaras: Exploring the sacred heart of India

Wednesday 20th September 2023 08:20 EDT

Situated on the banks of the sacred River Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi, also known as Kashi or Banaras, stands as one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities. It holds profound religious importance for Hindus, serving as a beacon for those in search of spiritual enlightenment and liberation.

The city's fame is rooted in its deep-seated religious and cultural significance. Tourists flock to Varanasi to immerse themselves in its opulent heritage, witness profound religious ceremonies, and explore iconic landmarks such as the revered Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the historic riverfront ghats along the Ganges.

Varanasi has achieved a remarkable milestone, with tourist numbers exceeding 10 crore (100 million) visitors in 2022. This influx has imparted a substantial boost to the city's economic vitality. Tourism has emerged as a major contributor to Varanasi's local economy, fostering prosperity across various sectors, including hospitality, transportation, and local enterprises.

Visitors to Varanasi are blessed with the unique opportunity to partake in sacred rituals like the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti, as well as to traverse the city's labyrinthine lanes, bustling markets, and embrace its rich, time-honoured traditions.


Embrace life as a Banarasi

Every traveller is different, with unique interests and preferences. Whether seeking spiritual enlightenment, cultural immersion, or culinary delights, expertly curated journeys ensure the most out of the Varanasi adventure. 

Keeping that in mind, Tourrnival Jourrneys offer tailored experiences that cater to the customer’s desires, delivering immersive and sustainable travel experiences that unveil Varanasi's eternal charm and spiritual legacy.

The agency offers an all-round experience ranging traditional welcome with garland and tilak to exploring the culinary landscape of the city. They curate their itineraries to include guided tours through the 82 ghats along the 8-kilometer stretch of the holy Ganges through an evening and an early morning boat ride. With the evening ride, guests witness the mesmerising evening arti and a beautiful sunrise with the morning ride. 

Guests are ensured of a hassle-free darshan at Kashi Vishwanath, Kaal Bhairav, Sankat Mochan and Durga Kund. They can also choose to perform a Rudra Abhishek or visit the heritage site of Sarnath. 

Depending on the duration of the tour, Vindhyachal, Prayagraj, Ayodhya and Bodhgaya can also be added to the itinerary.

Elaborating on the kind of experience Tourrnival Journeys strives to curate for their tourists, the founders, Shyaam Singh and Manish Singh said- “At Tourrnival Jourrneys, we encourage you to shed the role of a tourist and embrace the life as a Banarasi. Our itineraries are designed to immerse you in the city's soul, allowing you to engage with its rich history and vibrant culture as if you were a local. Explore hidden alleyways, partake in age-old rituals, and witness the mesmerising Ganga Aarti – all while forging a deep connection with this spiritual haven.”

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Enjoy the culture of Banaras at a 350-year-old heritage site

Experience of India Tourism on the other hand, has more than 15 years of experience in organizing domestic and international tours and handling visa plus other tourist requirements. The company has been providing services to e well-known foreign tour operators and hotels, claiming recognition by many national and international organizations. 

The company’s itinerary also includes guided tours through the holy Ganges, hassle-free darshan at Kashi Vishwanath, Kaal Bhairav, Sankat Mochan and Durga Kund, and an experience of the Ligh and Sound show at Sarnath.

Included with the typical Banaras darshan, Experience of India offers packages for Haridwar and Rishikesh which include-   Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri,  Yamunotri, Ayodhya, Prayagraj and Gaya.

Owner Ranjan Jaiswal also offers a 350-year-old heritage property for tourists. The Narayana Haveli has 6 Shiva Lings within the property and is located at a prime location. The Haveli is situated in the Old Banaras region which allows the guests to enjoy the culture, lifestyle, and food of the region. The Kashi Vishwanath and Ganga river are under 500 metres from the Narayana Haveli. The property costs around £25-£40 per day.

For people looking for homestay-style accommodations, the Stay Inn Kailasa is a two and three-bedroom accommodation with an amazing rooftop garden and fulltime maids. The property is within 2 kilometres from all prominent temple sites and the river. The property costs around £40-£55 per day. Experience of India also has a budget-friendly option for solo travellers and backpackers. The Stay Inn Heritage hotel is situated on the banks of the  river and costs less than £20 per day.

Expressing his purpose, Mr Ranjan said, “Stay at a place that exudes historical charm and is conveniently located near the Ghats and Temples along the banks of the sacred River Ganga. Here, you can leisurely stroll to witness the breathtaking sunrise and the daily rituals. In order to ensure that our guests have a flawless experience, we have launched our own chain of accommodations known as Stay Inn Accommodations to meet our guests' specific requirements. We proudly manage two distinct properties ensuring a comfortable and memorable stay.”

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