Witnessing Dev Diwali at Varanasi- A Festival Beyond Imagination!
Someone asked me “Dude, are you not going to Dev Diwali, Varanasi” and I was like “Bro, Diwali has already gone 2 days back” as I had absolutely no idea about it”. Then I saw photos of the festival (You can see on my Instagram as well @peakandtroughs), read about it and without even a second thought booked a ticket for myself.
To just give you a little background of the place first, Varanasi is situated on the banks of river Ganga, present on the eastern side of Uttar Pradesh around 700 Km from Delhi. It is also called as Benaras (from British times) or Kashi (due to presence of Kashi Vishwanath temple, the most auspicious Shiva temple in the world and one of the 12 jyotirlingas of India). In addition to the Shiva temple, it also has the Benaras Hindu University, more than 100 small ghats and one of the best India’s street foods specially the Lassi.
Also, just a fact that Varanasi is also the constituency of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so you can very well understand the importance of the place in Indian diaspora!
Now, coming to what Is Dev Deepawali All About!
First things first, I should let you know that Dev Deepawali and Diwali are separate festivals celebrated altogether. What makes Dev Deepawali, or Dev Diwali distinct is the fact that it has different rituals followed and is celebrated 15 days after Diwali in November. It basically is to celebrate Lord Shiva’s triumph over evil by defeating the demon Tripurasur. And to commemorate this event, it is believed that the gods descend to bathe in the Ganges every year on this day. So, on this day, thousands of devotees bathe in the waters of the Ganges, signifying the cleansing of sins and rejuvenation of the soul. To welcome the gods, thousands of diyas are lit and released along the banks of the Ganges.
So now coming back to the actual travel story, I travelled to witness this spectacular event in November 2022 for 4 days with Dev Diwali being on the 3rd day. Basis my experiences, I will help you all to plan your trip by sharing my stories and giving details about almost everything.
So, Let’s Start!!!
Mode of travel:
You can travel by your own car from Delhi. Time taken around 12-13 hours depending upon the traffic. And because of the festival season and narrow roads, you will find traffic in between for sure.
Else you can take a direct flight to Varanasi or take a flight till Delhi and then hop on the train from Delhi to Varanasi.
Alternatively, you can board the Vande bharat express from Delhi (One of the fastest trains in India). It takes exact 8 hours with comfortable sitting.
If you are with family, then my recommendation would be taking a train from Delhi.
Inside Varanasi, all the ghats are connected to each other through stairs, so the best option is to walk along the ghats. Only other option is Auto rickshaw or the Electric Rickshaw which you can either share it or take it full as per your choice.
Varanasi is famous for food, so that is the least thing you should be bothered about!!.
Just keep in mind that you will only get vegetarian options as it is a religious place.
There are lot of options and varieties for street food. So, if you are a chat or a lassi lover, this is actually the right place for you.
Prices of Hostels and Hotels skyrocket during the festival week. So would recommend to book it 15-20 days in advance.
Try to book the place near Dashashwamedh Ghat as all the important places are near to that ghat itself.
While I stayed in a hostel (Hostelavie), but would recommend to stay in a homestay if going with friends/couple or family
Now I should come to itinerary. You can skip few things if you wish to, or add some days in particular city if you like. I went with one of my friends. So, sharing itinerary basis that:
2 days before Dev Diwali: Start from Delhi and reach to Varanasi (800 Kms)
Start as early as possible from Delhi (4-5 am types) if driving on your own.
Train usually departs in the morning, so you will reach Varanasi by evening itself.
Check-in to the place and witness the evening aarti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat (You can also take the boat ride which costs around 200 Rs per person).
Have dinner and take rest.
Varanasi Junction | Evening Ganga Aarti | Street Food
1 day before Dev Diwali: Visit Sarnath, Kashi Vishwanath temple, and in the streets of Varanasi
It will be a long day today. So, start your day early to avoid crowd.
Post having a morning stroll at the ghats, have breakfast and leave for Sarnath. It is around 20 kms from Varanasi and one of the holiest places where Gautama buddha gave his first sermon. The famous Ashoka Pillar (from which the Ashok chakra has been taken) is also present here.
In the afternoon visit the streets of Varanasi and have famous street food for lunch.
In the evening visit the Kashi temple and the surroundings. There would be a huge line for the darshan. So, either you can be in the line and your number will come in 1-2 hours or you can buy the VIP ticket for around 500 bucks and you can have darshan through VIP entry which is recommended to save time and enjoy views.
Take night stroll on the ghats, see the beautiful lights and have rest.
Sarnath | Kashi Temple corridor | Evening ghats
Dev Diwali day: Morning ganga Aarti, boat ride, and witnessing grand festival
Wake up by 5pm to witness early morning Ganga aarti, which usually happens before the sunrise.
Post that go on the early morning boat ride (Charges around 200rs per person on a shared boat).
Have authentic Benares breakfast i.e. kachori and lassi.
Rest for some time and visit the streets for some shopping and local cool cafes around the city..
You can also visit the BHU campus and Ramanagar fort as both the places are very beautiful.
Boat ride | Morning Ganga snan | Special lassi
By around 6 pm, visit the ghats (keep in mind that it will be very-very crowded) or just pick a spot on any of the ghats to witness the magical night.
Diyas will be lit at all the ghats and the fireworks will start by 8pm along with the laser show. Trust me, you will not even feel that how the time has passed on with everything just being so lighted up.
Lit up Ghats | Laser show | Special fireworks
Day after Dev Diwali: Start from Varanasi and reach Delhi.
You can wake up at your own time but my recommendation is to wake up early and visit the ghats!
Start journey back post breakfast and reach Delhi by Midnight with beautiful memories of the trip.
The place becomes very crowded in these days. So would recommend this as a one-time experience, else visit Varanasi again in normal days as well
Please book the stay in advance if visiting for the festive week (Prices get shoot up till 20K for a room if booked on the spot).
Do try to sit for some time at the ghats and you will actually feel the vibe of the place.
P.s.: Diwali in 2023 is on 12th November and Dev Diwali would be celebrated on 26th November 2023. So, plan your visit accordingly.
Also, Kashi temple is one among the 12 jyotirlingas in India (Other Jyotirlingas been shown). Luckily, I have covered 9 out of them and hoping to cover all by the next two years 😊
Do let me know if I missed anything. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me at Instagram @peakandtroughs
Do like, share with your friends and save for next year!!