Tourism Experience in Varanasi- A Foreigner’s Perspective

Varanasi, which is often referred to as the spiritual city of India, is a city that reflects this country’s rich cultural and religious heritage. The banks of the holy Ganges River not only attract Hindu pilgrims but also extend its glory far beyond the borders of India. Every year tons of tourists visit Varanasi to feel the spiritual vibes and see the elegance of the ghats over there. Foreign tourists are fascinated by the unique charm of this city.

My Story: Sourov Saha

In my case, the total scenario was kind of different from that. 

Last October when I first came from Bangladesh to India, precisely in Varanasi for study purposes I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to cope with the whole environment or not. But there is a saying that you can spend months in Varanasi without getting bored. That happened to be true and I was moved by the atmosphere.

Sourov Saha

I never thought that I would be so attached to the evening arti which calms my heart and soul. 

The narrow streets of Banaras fascinated me as well. It is an important tourism product for tourists travelling to Varanasi. These streets offered me a unique experience as got to see the local life and culture up close: Walking along these narrow streets is an experience in itself for me. The traditional Banarasi Sarees, Handicrafts, and street food reflected the culture of Varanasi.

While saying that, as everything has wins and cons in my experience that happened too.

I was shocked about the sound pollution out here. And the worst thing was people were used to it. Which frightens me the most. The weather was unbearable, it wasn’t even summer but me and my friends were struggling with the heat. 

Sourov Saha

Well, as a tourism student, I wanted to know Varanasi in that aspect too. And soon after I thought that an opportunity came. I got to conduct a survey named ‘Tourism in Banaras” in the Ghats of Varanasi as a part of my classwork.

Nearly 30 foreign nationals participated in that survey and that helped me to analyze various problems faced by the foreign tourists in this city. 

One of the main complaints raised by tourists is below-

  • Hygiene (Food, Water and Cleanliness)
  • Sound pollution (Locals use too many horns while in traffic jams)
  • Language (Locals prefer not to use English)
  • Transportation (It’s hard to move around the Dashaswamedh ghat due to over-tourism)
  • Accurate Google Maps (Not only Varanasi but it should be accurate)

For foreign tourists’ hygiene is a highlighted concern. Apart from that, Local thugs and child beggars cause problems too. Many of these practices discourage foreign tourists from making a second visit.

In my opinion, Banaras has the potential to attract visitors from around the world more and more. So, the Government should take necessary steps to prevent unwanted hurdles for foreign tourists.

Sourov Saha

As Varanasi is the most famous and oldest inhabited city, many international travellers come here for tourism purposes & feel the spiritual vibes. Banaras should maintain the image of being a holy city, because of the overall city environment people often get disappointed. One of the prime examples can be pointed out that most of the Ghats don’t have proper toilets. Often the smell of human waste and dumps irritates the tourists.

Sourov Saha Tourism

Personally, it hurts me to see this kind of situation happening near a sacred place. Hygiene level is quite low compared to the standard of other countries where tourism is one of the main sources of revenue. Only 4 or 5-star hotels can accept middle-class people from Europe and the East. The sound pollution is so severe that many people get sick while travelling. On the other hand, it may lead to negative images of India if they face hygiene problems, especially female travellers.

Lastly, Varanasi has historical as well as religious value for many people around the world. Thus, the tourism industry along with the government should utilize its potential by collaboratively solving these problems.

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About Sourov Saha

Sourov Saha is a student pursuing his Bachelors in Tourism and Hospitality Management. Activity working for Gender Rights, Climate Justice and Social Advocacy based in Bangladesh. Always open to exploring new opportunities.

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