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Gay Varanasi, India | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Gay Varanasi, India | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Also called Banaras or Kashi, Varanasi is the “spiritual capital of India”. Located on the banks of the sacred Ganga or Ganges river in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is a city steeped in spirituality, tradition, and mysticism.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Varanasi is a captivating destination that draws millions of pilgrims, seekers, and travelers from across the globe. Varanasi is famous for its numerous ghats, where rituals and ceremonies are performed, and people come to cleanse their sins in the holy waters.

The city is also renowned for its bustling narrow lanes, vibrant markets, exquisite temples, and rich cultural heritage. Varanasi is a living tapestry of faith, culture, and ancient wisdom that leaves a profound and lasting impression on all who visit.

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Queer acceptance in Varanasi is a complex and evolving landscape. The city is deeply religious and conservative. While societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals are generally traditional, there are pockets of acceptance and growing awareness.

LGBTQ+ organizations and activists are working towards fostering inclusivity and creating safe spaces, albeit with ongoing challenges. Varanasi’s queer community continues to navigate a path toward visibility and recognition, promoting dialogue and understanding in a society that is gradually becoming more open to diverse identities and expressions.

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Attractions in Gay Varanasi, India

Welcome to Gay Varanasi, darling! While the city may not be the most welcoming to the queer community, fear not! There are plenty of fabulous things for you to do while keeping things low-key. First and foremost, you must visit some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and attractions, dahling!

Take history and culture by visiting museums, art galleries, and historical monuments. And don’t forget to marvel at the stunning architecture, explore parks and gardens, and indulge in the local cuisine. But that’s not all, darling! Gay or straight, there’s always something to do in Gay Varanasi. Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending cultural events like festivals, concerts, and shows.

In India, LGBT rights have made significant strides in recent years, but many issues remain. In 2018, the country’s Supreme Court overturned a colonial-era law that criminalized homosexuality and in 2023, the legal battle for same-sex marriage heated up, but societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people remain largely conservative.

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Discrimination and violence against queer individuals still occur, and there is still a long way to go regarding legal and societal acceptance.

As a queer traveler in India, it is important to exercise caution and be mindful of your surroundings. While larger cities like Mumbai and Delhi have more visible LGBTQ+ communities and venues, it is still important to be discreet in public spaces outside these areas.

Holding hands or displaying affection in public may draw unwanted attention or negative reactions. It’s also important to know local customs and dress codes, especially if visiting religious sites or rural areas. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and respect the local culture.

Trust us; there’s always something fun and exciting happening in this fabulous city. Remember, discretion is key to a town that’s not always welcoming to our great community. So, keep it lowkey and enjoy all the wonderful things Gay Varanasi has to offer!

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Bharat Mata Temple

The Bharat Mata Temple, located in Varanasi, is a unique and patriotic shrine that pays homage to Mother India. Unlike traditional temples, it is dedicated to the personification of India as a divine mother. The temple features a magnificent marble map of India, symbolizing the unity and diversity of the country. Each state is represented with intricate details, showcasing its cultural heritage.

The temple serves as a reminder of the nation’s rich history and the sacrifices made by its people. It is a place where visitors can express their love for the country and appreciate its cultural tapestry. The Bharat Mata Temple is a powerful symbol of national pride and reverence and is worth visiting!

Assi Ghat

Assi Ghat, situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges in Varanasi, is a captivating and revered place that embodies the essence of spirituality. Its name is derived from the confluence of the Assi River with the Ganges. This ancient ghat is a significant pilgrimage site and witnesses countless devotees seeking solace and performing religious rituals.

Assi Ghat is known for its vibrant atmosphere, adorned with colorful boat rides, chanting priests, and sacred ceremonies. It also serves as a hub for yoga enthusiasts, who gather here for meditation and yoga practices.

With its rich cultural heritage and serene ambiance, Assi Ghat is an emblem of Varanasi’s profound spiritual legacy. One cannot say they have visited Varanasi without visiting this ghat at least once.

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Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, located in the heart of Varanasi, is a revered Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. This magnificent temple holds immense spiritual significance and is considered one of the holiest sites in Hinduism. Built-in a stunning architectural style, it attracts devotees from all over the world who come to seek blessings and offer prayers.

The temple’s golden spires and intricate carvings mesmerize visitors, creating a divine atmosphere. The inner sanctum houses the sacred Jyotirlinga, a manifestation of Lord Shiva, which is the main focus of devotion. With its historical and religious significance, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple remains a beacon of devotion and spirituality in Varanasi.

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New Vishwanath Temple

The New Vishwanath Temple, also known as the Birla Temple, is a modern architectural marvel in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Constructed by the Birla family, this temple is a splendid tribute to Lord Shiva. It’s white marble facade and intricate carvings exude elegance and grandeur.

The temple complex encompasses several smaller shrines dedicated to different deities, creating a serene and spiritually uplifting atmosphere. The New Vishwanath Temple attracts many devotees and tourists alike, who come to admire its beauty and offer their prayers. It stands as a testament to the enduring devotion and religious diversity that thrives in Varanasi.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

Dashashwamedh Ghat, situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges River in Varanasi, is one of the city’s most vibrant and significant ghats. Its name translates to “the ghat of ten horses,” symbolizing the ancient Vedic ritual of the ten horse sacrifices performed here. This ghat holds immense religious importance and is believed to be where Lord Brahma performed the Dashashwamedh Yajna.

Every evening, a spectacular Ganga Aarti (worship ceremony) takes place at Dashashwamedh Ghat, attracting many devotees and tourists. The rhythmic chants, synchronized rituals, and the sight of lamps lit and offered to the river create a mesmerizing and spiritually uplifting experience.

Dashashwamedh Ghat is a must-visit destination for those seeking a deep connection with the spiritual heritage of Varanasi.

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Evening Aarti of Mother Ganga

The Evening Aarti of Mother Ganga in Varanasi is a mesmerizing and spiritual event on the holy river’s ghats. As the sun sets, priests perform a synchronized worship ritual, offering prayers, incense, and lamps to the sacred river. The rhythmic chants, the sound of bells, and the sight of flickering lights create a captivating atmosphere.

Devotees and tourists gather to witness this divine ceremony, seeking blessings and experiencing a profound connection with the spiritual energy of Varanasi and the sacred Ganges River. This guided tour will pick you up from your hotel and help you experience this divine aarti through a boat ride.

Starting with a boat ride, the local guide will take you past the city’s famous ghats, including the Manikarna Ghat, where cremations are held. The next stop will be the renowned aarti, or evening prayer ceremony, right on the banks of the river. This is the perfect option for tourists who want the authentic experience of the world-famous evening aarti at Varanasi.

Durga Temple

The Durga Temple, located in the heart of Varanasi, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. This ancient temple holds immense religious significance and is a major pilgrimage site for devotees of the goddess. Built-in a North Indian architectural style, it showcases intricate carvings and ornate decorations that captivate visitors.

The temple premises also house smaller shrines dedicated to other Hindu deities. Devotees flock to the Durga Temple to seek blessings, offer prayers, and participate in religious ceremonies. The vibrant atmosphere, the scent of incense, and the rhythmic chants create a spiritually uplifting experience, making the Durga Temple a cherished place of worship in Varanasi.

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Alamgir Mosque

The Alamgir Mosque, also known as the Beni Madhav Ka Darera or Aurangzeb Mosque, is a striking architectural marvel in Varanasi. Built during the Mughal era by Emperor Aurangzeb, this mosque is a testament to the city’s rich historical and cultural heritage. The mosque stands tall on the Panchganga Ghat and offers panoramic views of the sacred Ganges River.

Its impressive blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements is evident in its intricate carvings and domed structure. The Alamgir Mosque remains a significant religious site, attracting both worshippers and tourists who come to admire its beauty and experience its tranquil ambiance.

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat, situated on the banks of the revered Ganges River in Varanasi, is one of the city’s oldest and most sacred ghats. It holds immense significance in Hindu mythology and is considered the main cremation ghat in Varanasi. According to legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva himself resides here.

The ghat is perpetually busy with funeral pyres burning day and night, as per the Hindu belief of attaining moksha (liberation) through cremation in Varanasi. The intense spiritual energy and the sight of funeral rituals make Manikarnika Ghat a powerful and humbling place, symbolizing the cycle of life and death. This ghat is one of the most important places in Varanasi.

Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort, located on the eastern bank of the Ganges River in Varanasi, is a magnificent fort that showcases the grandeur of bygone eras. Built-in the 18th century by the royal family of Varanasi, the fort is a splendid example of Mughal and Rajput architectural styles. It is adorned with intricate carvings, ornate balconies, and beautiful courtyards.

The fort houses a museum that exhibits a fascinating collection of vintage cars, weapons, costumes, and artifacts, providing a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the region. The fort’s picturesque location and regal charm make it a popular attraction for history enthusiasts and tourists visiting Varanasi.

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Gay-Friendly Hotels and Hostels in Varanasi, India

Don’t wait another minute to book your stay at one of Varanasi’s most fabulously queer-friendly hotels! While many establishments in town might not welcome our rainbow family, these hotels have all pledged to embrace our queer spirit with open arms.

From non-discrimination policies to LGBTQ+ resources and amenities, these hotels go above and beyond to create a safe and inclusive environment for all guests who identify as LGBTQ+. And if you’re looking for a place to stay in an area known for being LGBTQ+ friendly, these hotels have got you covered too.

In addition to the locally-owned gay-friendly accommodations in Varanasi, international hotel chains can also be great options for LGBTQ+ travelers. Many of these chains have implemented policies and training programs to ensure their hotels are welcoming and safe for LGBTQ+ guests. They may also have LGBTQ+ affinity groups within the company, which can help to promote a culture of inclusivity and support for queer travelers.

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Moreover, international hotel chains are often known for their high-quality amenities and services, which can provide a more luxurious and comfortable stay for LGBTQ+ travelers. With a global presence, these chains can also offer a sense of familiarity and consistency for queer travelers navigating unfamiliar destinations.

Whether you choose a locally-owned gay-friendly accommodation or an international hotel chain, it’s important to do your research and choose a place that will make you feel welcome and comfortable during your stay in Varanasi.

So why wait? Book now to experience the comfort, luxury, and acceptance these gay-friendly hotels in Varanasi offer. You’ll find the perfect home away from home with options to fit every budget and preference.

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Taj Ganges, Varanasi ☆☆☆☆☆

Taj Ganges, situated in Varanasi, is a luxurious hotel that offers a serene and enchanting retreat in the city’s heart. Nestled amidst sprawling gardens and overlooking the holy Ganges River, the hotel provides a tranquil escape from the bustling surroundings. With its elegant architecture and warm hospitality, Taj Ganges perfectly blends modern comforts and traditional charm.

The spacious rooms and suites are tastefully decorated, offering a peaceful haven for guests. The hotel also boasts excellent dining options, a rejuvenating spa, and a sparkling swimming pool. Taj Ganges is ideal for those seeking a luxurious and memorable stay in Varanasi.

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Tree of Life Resort & Spa, Varanasi  ☆☆☆☆

An explicitly LGBTQ-welcoming resort in Varanasi, Tree of Life Resort and Spa is an elegant 4.5-star luxury property. The resort offers guests a serene and luxurious retreat within the city, providing a peaceful oasis amidst the bustling energy of Varanasi. With a stunning exterior decorated with a huge outdoor pool, this resort is surrounded by greenery and is a refreshing escape into nature.

Guests have access to free continental breakfast daily, along with an on-site cafe and restaurants. Couples private dining is also available if you want to have a romantic meal with your significant other. The resort offers many outdoor facilities, such as a picnic area and a barbecue grill. This is a highly recommended resort and spa for those who want a luxurious and hassle-free stay in Varanasi. 

Radisson Hotel Varanasi ☆☆☆☆

The Radisson Hotel Varanasi is a prestigious and contemporary 4-star hotel in the historic city of Varanasi. With its modern amenities and elegant ambiance, the hotel offers a comfortable and luxurious stay for business and leisure travelers. The spacious and well-appointed rooms provide a tranquil retreat after a day of exploration.

The hotel features a range of dining options, including a rooftop restaurant offering panoramic views of the city. Guests can indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments, dip in the swimming pool, or stay active at the fitness center. With its convenient location and impeccable hospitality, Radisson Hotel Varanasi ensures guests a memorable and delightful experience.

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Hotel Surya ☆☆☆

Hotel Surya, situated in Varanasi, is a renowned, affordable 3-star hotel that offers a comfortable and memorable stay in the city. With its prime location near the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the hotel provides easy access to the major attractions of Varanasi. The rooms are well-appointed and designed with a blend of modern amenities and traditional decor, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Guests can savor delicious Indian and international cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, relax on the rooftop terrace, or indulge in a soothing Ayurvedic massage at the spa. Hotel Surya’s friendly staff and excellent service ensure a pleasant experience for visitors exploring Varanasi’s spiritual and cultural heritage.

Wander Station Varanasi

The Wander Station Varanasi, an aesthetic feast for the eyes, is a cozy “home away from home”. It is a new hostel that caters to the needs of modern travelers seeking budget-friendly and community-oriented stays. Designed to foster a sense of community and social interaction, Wander Station provides a vibrant and friendly atmosphere with its modern and bright interior design.

It provides different facilities such as private family rooms, mixed dorm beds and gender-based dorms. Guests can enjoy amenities such as communal kitchens, cozy lounges, and communal workspaces, encouraging collaboration and connection with fellow travelers.

With its affordable rates and contemporary design, Wander Station provides a convenient and budget-friendly option for travelers seeking a dynamic and communal stay experience in Varanasi.

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Gay Nightlife in Varanasi, India

Varanasi’s nightlife presents a fusion of tradition and modernity, allowing visitors to experience the city’s multifaceted nature after the sun sets. While the city is renowned for its religious and cultural significance, it also has pockets of vibrant nightlife.

From bustling street markets to live music performances, there are opportunities to immerse oneself in the energetic atmosphere. The presence of bars, lounges, and rooftop restaurants provides a chance to unwind and enjoy a drink while taking in the city’s charm. 

Varanasi’s queer scene remains largely underdeveloped and faces significant challenges. Visibility and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community are limited, resulting in a lack of dedicated spaces and resources. The city’s conservative social attitudes and traditional values make it difficult for queer individuals to express their identities openly.

While progress is being made slowly, the queer scene in Varanasi continues to grapple with societal stigmas and a lack of support. Queer travelers are advised to remain cautious and adhere to this list while going about Varanasi’s nightlife scene.

Here is a list of the top must-visit spot in Varanasi’s vibrant nightlife!

Gay Varanasi, India | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!
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Princep Bar

A part of the luxurious Taj Ganges in Varanasi, Princep Bar is one of the best lounges in the city. This colonial-style bar serves a world-class selection of wines, spirits and exciting concoctions. Princep Bar offers a sophisticated and elegant setting for guests to enjoy a range of beverages. As part of the renowned Taj Group, the bar upholds the brand’s commitment to exceptional service and quality.

Guests can expect a well-curated drink menu, skilled bartenders, and a refined atmosphere to unwind and socialize. Whether it’s a signature cocktail, fine wine, or premium spirits, Princep Bar provides a delightful experience within the luxurious confines of the Taj Ganges Hotel.

The 3rd Floor Bar Stock Exchange

The 3rd Floor Bar Stock Exchange in Varanasi is a lively and popular bar offering its patrons a unique concept. Inspired by the stock exchange, the bar implements an interactive pricing system where drink prices fluctuate based on demand. It creates an exciting and dynamic atmosphere where customers can enjoy their favorite beverages at different rates throughout the night.

The bar features a diverse selection of drinks, a vibrant ambiance, and live music or entertainment to enhance the overall experience. The 3rd Floor Bar Stock Exchange is a sought-after destination for locals and tourists looking for a fun and memorable nightlife experience in Varanasi.

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Trishna Bar

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One of the top nightclubs in Varanasi, Trishna Bar offers a place for patrons to relax and enjoy a selection of beverages in a casual and convivial atmosphere. Located in the Siddharth Hotel, the interior of this bar is decorated refreshingly with flashy lights, neon-colored walls and funky seating areas.

It offers a perfect ambiance where one can relax and unwind after a long day. Along with the lively atmosphere and packed dance floor, Trishna Bar is also known for its mouthwatering dishes and range of drinks. To experience Varanasi’s nightlife authentically, a trip to Trishna Bar is a must!

Tarang Bar

Tarang Bar is a popular Varanasi establishment known for its vibrant atmosphere and wide range of beverages. The bar offers a diverse selection of drinks, including cocktails, spirits, beers, and non-alcoholic options, catering to various preferences. Whether enjoying a refreshing beer or sipping on a signature cocktail, Tarang Bar provides a welcoming ambiance for guests to relax and unwind.

The skilled bartenders craft delicious concoctions, ensuring a delightful experience. With its lively atmosphere, friendly staff, and extensive drink menu, Tarang Bar is a destination for locals and tourists looking for a memorable nightlife experience in Varanasi.

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Toxic Bar and Lounge

In Ramada Plaza, Toxic Bar and Lounge is a vibrant nightlife outlet in the heart of Varanasi. The bar is an idyllic spot to sip one’s drink and enjoy the bar’s ambiance with your friends or family. It is one of the city’s favorite wine bars and stocks in an exhaustive list of international and domestic labels.

Trained mixologists at Toxic also serve inventive cocktails to gulp down with savory light bites and appetizers. The food is just as good as the exquisite drinks, making Toxic Bar and Lounge a popular hangout spot in Varanasi’s nightlife. 

Windsor Bar

Located inside Hotel Hindustan International in the Chaiganj area, the Windsor Bar is a stylish and classy lounge famous in Varanasi. It offers a wide range of drinks and snacks for guests. The bar is well-stocked, with an extensive selection of wines, spirits, beers, and cocktails. Its ambiance is warm and inviting, with comfortable seating and a lively atmosphere.

The bar also features live music and DJs, making it the perfect spot for a night out. The staff is friendly and attentive, ensuring guests have a great time. With its great food, drinks, and atmosphere, Windsor Bar is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a night out.

Gay Varanasi, India | The Essential LGBT Travel Guide!

Gay Saunas & Cruising Clubs in Varanasi, India

When exploring Gay Varanasi, there’s more to life than cocktails and beers. One aspect of the gay scene that many of us queens love are checking out the local gay saunas and cruising clubs.

Granted, Varanasi isn’t quite as wild as Amsterdam, Barcelona, or Berlin, but these steamy venues still offer the perfect opportunity to meet new people, socialize, and engage in some hot and heavy action without swiping left or right. However, remember that these venues can differ in terms of vibe, patrons, and rules, so it’s a good idea to be informed before you dive in.

Gay saunas, sex clubs, and cruising have long been popular ways for queer men to meet and engage in sexual activity, particularly in countries where same-sex activity is not widely accepted or may even be illegal. In these places, gay saunas and cruising clubs provide a safe and discreet environment for queer men to explore their sexuality and connect with like-minded individuals.

Despite the rise of gay dating apps, many queer men still prefer the anonymity and physical connection that can be found in these spaces – so somewhat counter-intuitively, you might have a hotter experience here than you would at home.

We recommend checking out our guide to cruising for first-timers before you get started, which should give you the lowdown, and always practice safe sex. Keep in mind that local laws and customs regarding gay venues and sexual activity should be respected at all times. With a bit of forethought and an open mind, visiting gay saunas and cruising clubs can be a thrilling and steamy part of your gay Varanasi adventure.

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Gay Map Of Varanasi

Finding it hard to envisage where everything is in Varanasi? Hopefully, this queer-centric map helps where we have marked all the bars, clubs, parties, hotels, saunas, massages, and more will help you stay in the spot best suited to you!