Varanasi is India’s ancient living city and perhaps one of the oldest living cities in the world. Because of its long history, the city has been dubbed as the cultural capital of India. Rich in cultural heritage with plenty of religious festivals all year round, Varanasi is visited by a huge number of people on a daily basis. Aside from the extensive and exceptional culture Varanasi offers, its favorable continental climate is also something travelers look forward to. While getting to Varanasi is one thing, getting around Varanasi is another.
Getting around Varanasi on land is quite comfortable and convenient with the help of three main modes of transport – taxis, auto rickshaws, and cycle rickshaws. The local term for auto rickshaws is tempo or simply auto for short. These three-wheeler cars do not have any doors and are generally green or yellow in color with a black shade top. Drivers usually charge by the meter but some would ask for a fixed price depending on where you are headed to. As a wise traveler, make sure to always pay by the meter to avoid getting ripped off.
The most common option of transport, not only in the city of Varanasi, but in all of India is cycle rickshaws. Cycle rickshaws are affordable especially when traveling in short distances. Unlike auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws have drivers with a fixed price depending on where you want to go. However, bargaining your fee is acceptable so make sure to haggle for a reasonable price. Most drivers can understand English which makes it very convenient to negotiate a fee.
To those who would rather choose a transport that is most familiar to them, taxis are available from the Canal Road Taxi Stand or from most travel agencies and hotels. Compared to rickshaws, taxi rates are rather high but still negotiable, especially if you hire one from any of the mentioned places. If you do decide to flag down a taxi by the street, make sure that the taxi driver goes by the meter. It would be a good idea to jot down the taxi’s plate number as complaints may be filed to the local traffic police in case a problem occurs with the taxi you rode with.
Although available, mini buses are more common in the outer regions of Varanasi especially when getting to neighboring towns. Since Varanasi is located along the banks of the Ganges River, getting around Varanasi by boat is possible. Visitors may also opt for small steamers that come with a fixed rate.
Driving around Varanasi can be a nightmare with drivers that do not have quite a regard for traffic rules and regulations. Add to the fact that Varanasi is filled with narrow winding lanes and alleys. You may be better off touring Varanasi on foot especially when the tourist attractions you are headed to are quite near each other.
There are plenty of places in and around Varanasi that are worth visiting. So when getting around Varanasi using the appropriate mode of transport, you are well assured of a fantastic and memorable trip that you would always love coming back to.