Known as one of the holiest destinations in India, Varanasi sits on the banks of the sacred river Ganges and is the site where Hindu pilgrims come to bathe in the ghats in a ritual that washes away ones sins and cleanses the mind body and spirit.

Alongside the bathing ghats are the burning ghats or funeral pyres here the bodies of the recently deceased are taken and cremated leaving a haze of smoke over the riverfront. It is quite an assault on the senses. The Old City is a maze of tiny alleys and is home to several colourful temples, including the beautiful Golden Temple – which is only accessible to Hindus.

Varanasi is one of India’s main silk producers making it the ideal place to purchase exquisite high quality fabrics. Close to Varanasi and worth a visit is Sarnath, the site where Buddha preached his first sermon and is now a spiritual place of mainly ruined stupas, shrines and temples.

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