Varanasi is a great Hindu city stretching along the banks of the River Ganges, India’s holiest river. There has been a settlement here for more than 2000 years and it is said to be one of the oldest living cities in the world. Pilgrims come here from all over India to bathe in the holy waters. The waterfront is dominated by a series of steps running down to the river (called ghats). This is where the pilgrims and locals come to do their daily ritual ablutions. We recommend taking a boat along the river as the activities are best viewed from the river in the early morning light. Sarnath is 12 kms from Varanasi so can easily be visited as a half day trip. Sarnath is one of Buddhism’s major centres as it is the deer park where the Buddha delivered his first sermon (or Dharma) in 528 BC. There are a number of stupas here (but rather neglected) and a museum.

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