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Varanasi : Advice needed on how best to see the evening Aarti

Varanasi : Advice needed on how best to see the evening Aarti

Old Aug 20th, 2016, 04:24 AM
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Varanasi : Advice needed on how best to see the evening Aarti

With the help of the many trip reports I have read on Fodors our India trip is now all booked, our visas have arrived [hooray] and I am now on to considering some of the finer details.

We are visiting Varanasi and will have two full days there and will be staying away from the ghat area at Nadesar palace hotel. My plan is to book a 3 hour walking tour for the morning of the first day [am thinking of Varanasi walk's 'Northern bazaars and hidden alleys' walk] and then to see the evening Aarti. The following day we will arrange a dawn boat ride and then take a tuk tuk to Sarnath.

My question is whether or not it is best to see the evening Aarti from a boat or from the bank and, if the latter, does one need a guide or can one just arrive and still find a decent vantage point ? Plus I would obviously welcome any suggestions for what else we should cover. Thanks.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 05:36 AM
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Hi loncall, lovely to know you have included Varnasi in your trip. A beautiful city and one of my favorites. We visited last year and stayed at the same hotel Nadesar Palace, it was beautiful.

We did attended the evening prayers with a guide from the company we booked ourselves. We saw the proceedings from a boat as the seating area near the ghats was too crowded. I believe views from the boat were better as my husband did a short photography session, while being right in the front of the priests.

Another activity we loved in Varanasi was the walk we had of the local markets right after the morning boat ride on the Ganges. The guide took us to the spice market, perfume market and street food markets passing through few temples (can't recall the names) It was fantastic and an eye opener where we met many locals. You must try this while you are there. I am sure you will love Varnasi as it is a completely different experience than any other city we visited.

We are doing another trip next year and have included Rishikesh to supplement our desire to include a holy city like Varanasi

Have a great time and do keep us posted about your visit
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 09:24 AM
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we hired a boat and rowed up and down the shore (boat man rowed). he then tied up with tons of other boats for the show---perfect
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 09:51 AM
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We sat on own own step/platform a few inches from the show. It was magnificent. I did not feel like people were crowding in around us at all. Perhaps most of the other tourists were on boats? We did have a private guide, so he did help us find the right spot. If you are a photographer, then you are better off on land.

Our same private guide took us on a ghat walking tour from end to end. It took most of the morning, because we stopped for chatting and picture taking.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 04:38 PM
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We hired a boat on our own and took a trip up the Ganges in the morning. In the evening we found a good spot on the steps and had a lovely time watching the ceremony on our own, interacting with and watching the people around us.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 04:39 PM
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Incidentally, we spent much time just wandering the little alley ways and then the main shopping street on our own. We felt very safe and enjoyed the leisurely pace.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 08:21 PM
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Good questions, Loncali. We sat on a bench third row up from the Aarti ceremony. As I recall, benches were raised one behind the other, so no heads in the way. The tuk tuk driver who'd taken us from the homestay helped us find an excellent viewing spot--a local guy, he was physically pushier than we'd have been!
Make sure you have plenty of camera battery power. Sounds obvious, but my camera died, using the video option.When you return home, image of the praying priests, the smoke from the incense, the music/singing, will make you re-feel the evening!!

Re; planned tuk tuk ride from Varanasi to Sarnath...i was there Nov 2013, and the road between the two was horrendous--one long, bumpy, dusty, dirty, construction zone! The options were being covered with lung irritating construction dust, or baking inside withthe tuk tuk with its curtain/flaps lowered. We (three ladies )wished we'd have spent the extra money and gone via air-conditioned van! So, check with your hotel on road condition. It should be better by the time you're there .Based on this article from 2015, it sounds like you'll be ok..IF you take the road used by the Bhutan Prime Minster's entourage!

http://tinyurl.com/jqotwct
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Old Aug 21st, 2016, 02:07 AM
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Thanks so much for sharing all your experiences there is such a wealth of information in your posts. The impression I get is that we will enjoy it whether on land or on a boat and that either option can readily be arranged once there so we will go with that and not commit in advance.

Thanks margene for the positive feedback on our hotel. It is a little splurge for us at the end of our tour and so good to hear that you enjoyed it.

Thanks Calinurse for the warning re the road to Sarnath. We will definitely check with hotel that conditions now improved as your journey sounded miserable.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2016, 07:22 AM
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Road to Sarnath was not that bad in May but we were in a car, would imagine it could be dusty!

We thought the boat was better than on land due to the amount of people but you can do both, we were take to a balcony overlooking the main area so good for photos.

They close the roads so busy walk down with bikes everywhere, not sure if you could get closer to catch a boat further along which would be better.

The early morning boat ride is great.

The hotel is lovely, quiet oasis!
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