Did you mean :
Add photos to this answer
Drop photos here
Upload from your computer
You've already uploaded some photos. Do you want to delete these photos?

How to live like a local in Varanasi?

Vaishali Singh Mar 25 2014
4 people found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Being in Varanasi is not just a journey, it is more like a religion, a way of life. Here's a guide to the first timers in Varanasi (they seem to be abound in plenty), on how to live like locals and win their hearts!

Photo of Ahilya Ghat

What to say!

This is perhaps the most important lesson in your Varanasi Survival Guide. You can win hearts or brickbats with just the way you say something! We'll rescue you when it comes to the basics:

Pranam - Varanasi's favourite greeting. Run away from 'Namaskar' and refrain from using 'Dosto' .

Theek hauvva na? - How are you? They better be fine, if you want to survive!

Hamke maaf kariye! For the times you can't watch your tongue. And to seem humble, that's one trait this city loves.

Dhanyavad! - When you want to express your gratitude for letting you be one of them.

When you hear someone say "I'm off to Lanka", don't be surprised. It's a locality in Varanasi. The place is known for Keshav Paan Bhandaar, you could ask them to get you one on their way back!

Where to mingle with the locals (and what to wear while doing so):

Vishwanath Temple (Don the Dhoti, Gamcha and teeka)

Say hello to the priests and devotees, understand the importance of prayers in their lives. You might want to shoot a quick prayer for your good luck as well!


Assi Ghat (Checked shirt in pastel hues, khaki trousers and Bata)

Get on a boat with the young blood of the city. Talk. Hear their concerns. Tell them your plans. Your Benaras stint isn't complete without a sunset boat ride at Assi Ghat!

Benaras Hindu University (Kurta, Jeans and jhola is the way to go)

The artistically inclined and sharp mind converge at the legendary BHU. You simply cannot afford to miss out on this one!

Photo courtesy BHU, Official Website

Dashashwamedh Ghat (Same as Assi Ghat)

Be the true local and witness an evening aarti from a boat at Dashashwamedh Ghat.

5. Look for nothing in particular

Benaras isn't all about tourist spots. Every lane, every turn, every body here is soaked in culture. When here, lose yourself in the bylanes. Don't be the tourist. Be the charmer. Give people your ears, and your promises. And when they give you their heart, live up to your promises.

Photo courtesy Damien

What to Eat

When in Benaras, head to Vishwanath Gali for the best of street food. Also, check out popular restaurants in Varanasi.

Benarasi Paan

This concoction usually means some quiet time, as you can't talk while eating it. You probably can't afford staying quiet right now, so just ask for a Meetha Paan. It quickly melts, and doesn't take away much from your talk-time. Also, locals will be impressed with your informed choice! Make this statement at Keshav Bhandar - Lanka or Vishwanath Gali.

Aloo Palak Pakora

Head to Sankatha Guest House for the best crunchy spicy pakoras in the city. Sit in the drawing room here and have a heart to heart with the janta. When the pakoras arrive, offer them to all and then take yours. Humility will win you brownie points.

Keep a water bottle close. It will come in handy. Thank me later!


It looks delicious and after the first gingery bite, you'll want to stuff your face with it. Refrain. Let a small helping sit in your mouth for about 30 seconds, because you can afford only that much quiet- time. Ask for this after your pakoras, when you are near Papad Bhandar (which is actually a lane, offshoot of the Vishwanath Galii) .


A glass of Thandai is made in 1500 different ways in Varanasi. Probably more, but no less. Typically when you ask for Thandai, it is understood you're asking for Bhang. That is a mistake that can prove fatal for one of us. So, specify that you want Sukha Mewa, which basically means you're asking for one with dry fruits.

Best place to have Thandai is Godowlia Chowk.

These are a few basic steps for your survival guide in Varanasi. Mug up these secrets and drop them at the opportune moments - and you have just what you need to please the masses!

add answer
Help us rate places you know
Food & Places To Visit