Activities in Varanasi

Varanasi has a remarkable range of activities catering to almost every segment. There are plenty of family friendly activities in Varanasi, and children are never bored when holidaying in Varanasi. For young couples and singles, Varanasi offers an exciting and diverse nightlife and is considered one of the culinary capitals of India. Varanasi is also a world-class shopping venue for shopaholics.

Yoga Training Centre

Yoga master Sunil Kumar runs two-hour classes three times a day (8am, 10am and 4pm; Rs200) at the Yoga Training Centre, on the 3rd floor of a small backstreet building near Meer Ghat. He teaches an integrated blend of hatha, Iyengar, pranayama and ashtanga, and serious students can continue on certificate and diploma courses. This place is highly recommended by travellers.

Learn for Life Society

Learn for Life Society, which can be contacted through the nearby Brown Bread Bakery has established a small school for disadvantaged children, and travellers are welcome to turn up and help out. The charity also recently started a women’s empowerment group, offering fair-paid work to local women, some of whom are mothers of the school’s students. The women make produce such as jams and pickles which travellers can buy from Brown Bread Bakery. See the website for more details.

River Trips

A dawn rowing boat ride along the Ganges to view the Ghats and former palaces from the Ganges is a quintessential Varanasi experience. The best time to make the trip is from 05:30 when it is cool, the early morning light is particularly inspiring and all the colour and clamour of pilgrims bathing and performing puja unfolds before you. An hour-long trip south from Dasaswamedh Ghat to Harishchandra Ghat and back is popular, but be prepared to see a burning corpse at Harishchandra. Early evening is also a good time to be on the river, when you can light a lotus flower candle (Rs 10) and set it adrift on the water. You can also watch the ganga aarti at Dashashwamedha Ghat.

Yoga

Varanasi has plenty of opportunities for yoga courses, but beware of 'fake' yoga teachers who are mainly interested in a hands-on lesson with young females. Some guesthouses also advertise yoga classes on their rooftops, which are occasionally free to guests.

International Yoga Clinic & Meditation Centre

Near Man Mandir Ghat but difficult to find, Yogi Prakash Shankar Vyas teaches hatha, pranayama, kriya and spiritual yoga. Varanasi has plenty of opportunities for yoga courses, but beware of 'fake' yoga teachers who are mainly interested in a hands-on lesson with young females. Some guesthouses also advertise yoga classes on their rooftops, which are occasionally free to guests.

Bhasha Bharati Language Institute

The long-running Bhasha Bharati Language Institute, near Chowk police station, offers small classes costing Rs250 per hour, run in one-week blocks of 30 hours. All-inclusive family homestays can be arranged for Rs1350. Students should book courses two weeks in advance. In any case, phoning ahead is helpful as this place is hard to find.

International Music Centre Ashram

The family-run International Music Centre Ashram is hidden in the tangle of backstreets near Rana Ghat but worth seeking out. Sitar, tabla, flute and classical dance tuition is Rs150 per hour, and concerts are held every Saturday and Wednesday evening at 8pm (Rs50).

Ankit Music House

Ankit Music House, in the same building as the Yoga Training Centre, in the alleys near Meer Ghat, also offers classical music tuition, for Rs100 an hour. Instructors Bablu and Vijay can give advice on buying musical instruments.