Named after the Hindu goddess Ganga, the Ganges River is one of the most revered natural sites in India. The river extends southeast from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal. Between 400 million and 600 million people rely on the Ganges River to provide water for daily bathing and drinking.
Hindus come to Varanasi from all around the world to purify themselves in the holy Ganges water and perform rituals along the dozens of ghats along the river. For tourists, the river helps provide a fixed point of orientation for navigating around the city, and you’ll no doubt spend lots of time sightseeing and watching life happen around the Ganges.
Consider waking up early and taking a sunrise cruise along the river – negotiate with one of the countless boatman hanging out along the ghats.
In the afternoon or early evening, one of the top things to do in Varanasi is purchase a small floating offering filled with fresh flowers and a candle, and release it onto the Ganges River. The blissful experience will connect you more deeply with Hindu culture and stay in your mind for years to come.