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Varanasi?

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Sep 19th, 2012, 08:23 AM
  #1
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Varanasi?

Am currrently in the early stages of planning a trip to India in February 2013. We are two middle-aged couples and we are wondering if it is worth it to go to Varanasi as it is considered one of the holy cities in India. A coworker (who was born and raised in India) said not to waste our time. However, some travelers have said they feel it is truly something you should see if you are traveling to the country.

What do you think? Is it a "must see" destination? Thanks for your replies.
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Sep 19th, 2012, 08:27 AM
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It is definitely on my list of must see places. You should read Dogster's tales of Varanasi.
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Sep 19th, 2012, 10:50 AM
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Varanasi was the highlight of our 3 1/2 week trip and should not be missed. Click on my name if you would like to find my trip report.
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Sep 19th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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dgunbug, I am currently going through your trip report. You have amazing recall! I'm just up to the Taj and will continue tomorrow. Excellent writing. Thanks for the heads-up.
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Sep 19th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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it is unique and it shows a whole other side of indians..

a ride on the river alone in a boat is fabulous both in the early AM and the early evening.. i suggest a min of two nights there..

stay on the river at one of the B&B's for maximum exposure---they are not that nice, but are clean and basic..
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Sep 19th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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DON'T MISS VARANASI!
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Sep 19th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Couldn't agree more w/all that's already been posted. We LOVED Varanasi! And staying on the river makes all the difference--even if you mix it up and only stay there one night so you can do the evening and morning boat ride. Wandering through the alleyways of Varanasi, walking along the ghats, seeing the evening ceremony--are all still vividly imprinted in my memory.
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Sep 19th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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Definitely a must-see. Also agree that you should stay on the river or you will miss some of the experience. (But stay out of the water, lol!) Allow time for just wandering. A side trip to Sarnath is worthwhile.

Did your co-worker explain why s/he thought it wasn't worth visiting?
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Sep 19th, 2012, 11:20 PM
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My husband and I were just in Varanasi two days ago (currently in Agra) and although there were water level issues, we both felt it was an all-time travel highlight.

It is probably the most fascinating city on the planet, teeming with chaos, culture and spirituality - you're in an altered reality the whole time you're there. Our guide put it well: "Rajasthan is for the eyes; Varanasi is for the soul."

We loved staying on the river and now miss our cozy, clean, charming guest house where we were treated like family (Suryauday Haveli) but if you're super Type A and need your amenities, you might want to be in one of the westernized hotels.

FYI - My Indian friend also told me not to go.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 05:23 AM
  #10
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Thank you everyone for your input. That settles it. Varanasi will be put back into the itinerary. Much appreciated.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 06:01 AM
  #11
 
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As some one above has stated it is much easier to have a guide/driver whoever help get boats and to give some explantion of what Varanasi means and the logistics of creamating a body. Yes, you can get it out of a guide book, but a person humanizes the prosess. We did love our time on the river and at the B&B. Sitting up on the roof watching the river life flow by. Magical!
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Sep 20th, 2012, 06:20 AM
  #12
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We are firm believers in hiring guides when necessary. We are currently working with a company planning a tiger safari. Unfortunately, we are waiting on the government ruling before we make any other plans. We are using Wide World India as our liaison in India. I believe someone on the Fodors website has used them in the past as well. They seem to be a very reputable company. They will customize the entire trip for us.

Crosscheck, I have made note of the B&B you mentioned. We do not like to stay in Western style accomodations if we can help it. We prefer small local flavor rather than ammenities.
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Sep 20th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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Hi Mixter - You'll love Suryauday Haveli! You should probably book now because I think there are only 6 rooms with a river view. You can reserve on booking.com and switch the dates around later. The ground floor rooms have larger windows than the rooms on the second floor - If possible get rooms 102 and 103. 102 is the the best because it was on a corner and had a view of the river, pus a view of the Shivala ghat where dozens of bathers and water buffalo hang out. More in my trip report about the roof deck, kite flying, the food, the yoga center and all the gifts from the management.
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