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India, one of the oldest civilisations on the planet. Within its 29 states and 7 union territories, you’ll find an extraordinary variety of cultures, cuisines, arts politics and history. And at Pandaw we take great pleasure in making it a way for adventurous travellers from all over the world to parse this extraordinary land and enjoy its many natural, cultural and architectural gifts. Explore our wonderful Ganges river cruises page for information on how to book.

There are many, many Indian cities worthy of a spot on any bucket list. But for a truly unique and spiritual experience, all pale in comparison to Varanasi- long referred to as "the holy city of India", "the religious capital of India", "the city of Shiva", and "the city of learning". But it’s not just the religious and spiritual who will benefit from visiting the spiritual capital of India and home of Buddhism. This historic and culturally rich history has something to offer everyone!

Varanasi at twilight on the banks of the GangesVaranasi at twilight on the banks of the Ganges

The History of Varanasi

Varanasi has a rich history, not just for its religious significance but its long industrial heritage. The city was known for its fabrics, perfumes sculpture and ivory even before the coming of Buddha and centuries before the birth of Christ.

It was here that Buddha gave his first sermon and Adi Shankara established the worship of Shiva. While the city was under Muslim rule throughout the middle ages there was still religious diversity with Hindus still making pilgrimages to Varanasi. Guru Nanak also visited Varanasi for Maha Shivaratri in 1507, a journey which is believed to have played a significant part in the founding of Sikhism. With temples to Shiva and Vishnu also built throughout the 18th century, there’s no denying the magical polytheism of Varanasi.

There must be something in the water!

Of course, when it comes to sites of religious significance, the Ganges themselves remain then most frequently visited and beloved landmark, with people from all over the world lining up to bathe in the (mythically) healing waters.

Things to See and Do in Varanasi

Cruise along the river Ganges and you’ll get a breathtaking view of the city from the water. When you disembark, hail a rickshaw and immerse yourself in the extraordinary culture.

Whether you’re religious or not you’ll want to visit the many fully functioning temples and awe at their ornate majesty. You may want to take a short trip to the weavers village and watch these world renowned craftsmen at work. It’s likely that you’ll also want to take a dip in the Ganges yourself, or at the very least watch legions of travellers from around the world do the same. And don’t forget to treat yourself to some delicious street food to keep your energy up as you wander!

Flowers at the Varanasi marketFlowers at the Varanasi market

Let Pandaw unlock Asia’s gems for you

Explore the historic wonders of Varanasi with Pandaw. We are truly passionate about bringing you a travel experience you’ll never forget, combining the many wonders of the Asian continent with a simple luxury to provide true relaxation. Our cruise ships are small enough to allow you to explore Asia’s treasures yet offer the highest passenger-to-deck-space ratio of any cruise ships afloat.

We can’t wait to share the treasures of the sacred city of Varanasi with you.

River Cruises visiting Varanasi


River Cruise itinerary for The All Ganges

The All Ganges

14 Nights on the Ganges

Save up to 10% and No Single Supplement on selected dates

12 or 14 nights

from US$7,200

River Cruise itinerary for The All Ganges
River Cruise itinerary for The Upper Ganges River

The Upper Ganges River

Kolkata - Varanasi

Save up to 10% and No Single Supplement on selected dates

7 nights

from US$4,050

River Cruise itinerary for The Upper Ganges River
River Cruise itinerary for The All Ganges & Brahmaputra River

21 nights

from US$12,046.50

River Cruise itinerary for The All Ganges & Brahmaputra River
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