Varanasi, also known by the names; Benares and Kasha, is a historical city located in Uttar Pradesh, India. Situated on the bank of the Ganges River, this ancient city is considered to be a holy city by the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Varanasi is a destination frequently visited by Hindus on pilgrimage mainly due to its many temples and Ghats and is also called the ‘City of Temples’ for this reason. The city is also famous for its silk weaving, and the Banaras silk is popularly known and sought after by many. Varanasi is the ideal destination to visit and learn more about India’s history and culture as the city has played an important role in the countries past. Muslim travelers may find it difficult to locate Muslim-friendly facilities in Varanasi. Although there are a few mosques in Varanasi, Muslim visitors will find it hard to locate Halal restaurants in Varanasi.
As visitors wander through the streets of Varanasi they well be able to discover the different facets of this very busy and colourful city. With monuments on every turn and its famous Ghats filled with Hindu devotees and tourist, it is an interesting city to visit.
Not to be missed is a visit to the Alamgir Mosque, which is located on the Panchganga Ghat. Built in the medieval period by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the mosque is the largest riverside building in the city. The architecture of the mosque is a mix of imperial Persian and Hindu style. The structure with its pillars, domes and towers shows the great work of ancient India.
Ramnagar Fort is another must-visit attraction when in Varanasi. A small part of the fort is open to the public and one side of the tower is the residence of the King of Kashi. The beauty of the fort attracts a large number of visitors every year. The fort also houses a museum where visitors will be able to see a variety of royal collections.
The main shopping areas in Varanasi are Chowk, Thatheri Bazaar, Vishwanath Gali, Lahurabir and Golghar. Visitors can shop for the famous Banaras brocade, brassware, copperware, wooden and clay toys and not to forget the exquisite jewelry found here.
The closest airport to Varanasi is the Varanasi Airport, which is officially known as Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport. Located approximately 20 kilometres from the city center, this airport has domestic and international flights. Visitors can take a taxi, travel by bus or rental car to get to their destination. Tourists could also use the train as the railway station is located nearby.
Finding Halal food in Varanasi will be quite a challenge for Muslim tourists visiting the city, as the city is only home to a very small Muslim population and the few Halal restaurants in Varanasi are not well know. Muslim tourists will have to visit the masjids and make inquiries regarding Halal food in the area. Vegetarian cuisine is however widely available in Varanasi, like most Indian destinations. Muslim visitors can dine at these vegetarian restaurants if they are unable to locate Halal restaurants.
Muslim travelers will be able to locate prayer facilities in Varanasi as the city is known to have a number of mosques that are frequented by locals and tourists alike. Gyanvapi Mosque and Alamgiri Mosque are the most well known masjids in Varanasi, while Adhai Kangra Masjid situated close to the Varanasi railway station is also used by Muslim tourists. Other mosques can be found in the city however not all of them are functioning mosques. Muslims visitors should therefore make sure the mosque is in use before visiting it at prayer time.