Zigzag through the busy markets in Varanasi as you shop for handicrafts, handwoven silks, brassware, ceramics, and more. But, don’t forget to carry along all your bargaining skills.
The holiest city in India, Varanasi, seems like the Vatican’s Indian counterpart. But nothing can beat its rush of tourists, calming aartis by the ghat, the quiet energy, the vibrancy during Holi, and of course, Banarasi chaat. There’s also the hot air balloon festival in Varanasi, which is a sight to behold. You’ll never wonder what to do in Varanasi while you’re there on holiday.
Benares, Kashi, or Varanasi; you can lovingly call this UP city whatever you like because you perpetually see a contrast with every turn you take. A visit to the ghats is calming, but on the other hand, the hustle and bustle of Varanasi’s markets is inspiring. It almost feels like the whole city is out to welcome you, night after night. Tourists, too, throng these markets because no one wants to miss out on what these shopping goldmines have to offer.
The holy city is obviously a popular pilgrimage destination, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t carry along an extra bag when you are visiting Varanasi to bring home those tasteful pieces you have carefully chosen. There are ample shopping places in Varanasi that are worth exploring for artisanal ware and handloom.
The markets will offer you vibrant handwoven fabrics (How could you go home without some Banarasi silk?), brass statues, ceramic knick-knacks, aromatic spices, and spiritual items. Varanasi is also where paan has a cult status and while chewing paan, its benefits are discussed.
Have a look at our guide to the six best markets in Varanasi, and what to purchase when you’re at each one of them.
1. Vishwanath Gali
If you are in Varanasi for a pilgrimage, chances are you are going to need a few spiritual items and religious supplies. Meander down Vishwanath Gali, located near Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the most revered Hindu temples in the country. This Varanasi market is home to all your puja needs and other spiritual items. You will find Banarasi silk, religious books, and incense shops, wooden and brass statues that feature gods and goddesses, and several hand-painted ceramics that you can buy for religious ceremonies.
2. Thatheri Bazaar
Thathera means ‘smith,’ which is why it’s no surprise that Thatheri Bazaar is a market that’s dedicated to brassware and metal crafts. Located in the old city of Varanasi, Thatheri Bazaar has artisans selling brass and copper utensils used during religious ceremonies. You will get to pick from a host of wonderful designs, fresh off the bat, when you are shopping for diyas, thali, rose water sprinklers, aarti thaal, and more. The market in Varanasi is also a good place to buy traditional sarees, suits, and other garments made from handwoven fabrics.
3. Godowlia Market
If you are in Varanasi to shop for silks and handloom fabrics, you must visit Godowlia Market. One of the best markets in Varanasi, one could easily say that shopping in Varanasi for fabrics starts (and perhaps ends!) here. This is a heritage market that is dotted with narrow alleys with buildings on either side. At Godowlia Market you can shop for fine silks and brocades, Bhadohi carpets with intricate work, zari work, and inlaid woodwork items.
Named after the granary monument and meaning ‘Round House,’ Golghar is one of the best markets in Varanasi. It’s one of the only markets where you can shop for different items including those that locals would need daily. But Golghar market’s specialty is the variety of shoes and home décor items it offers. From mojaris and slip-on sandals that are both trendy and traditional, to Rajasthani-style door hangings and chimes. As a tourist, shopping at Golghar might be ideal when you are looking to buy souvenirs and gifts for friends.
But while you are in Golghar, here’s a quick guide on what to eat in Varanasi. Simply stop at a chaat shop! Several hole-in-the-wall eateries will offer chaat in true Banaras-style, in paan-leaf bowls, and you can gorge on something delicious around here.
5. Chowk and Urban Haat
A mecca for handloom items, Chowk and Urban Haat is where you can shop for a variety of artifacts. Ranging from fabrics to home-décor items, statues, and other knick-knacks, shopping in Varanasi is incomplete without a visit to Chowk and Urban Haat. The local government and state government have also set up initiatives and cultural programs to promote the handlooms and handicrafts that are made and sold here. Make sure to bookmark this list of the best markets in Varanasi and pay it a visit when you’re there.
6. Rajan Silk Market
Banaras silk and Banarasi sarees have become household name. And, where better to shop for them than from these fantastic Varanasi’s markets? Rajan Silk Market, as the name suggests, is popular for its quality silk sarees and fabrics. Selling a host of silks in different price ranges, colours, and quality, this is where you can grab several silk sarees and materials to take home. Some shops in this market also sell sarees at wholesale prices. So, if you are shopping in Varanasi for a wedding and need sarees in bulk, this is the best market to visit.