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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in India

Discover the northern bazars and hidden alleys of Varanasi

Explore the snaking alleys and busy bazars in the north of Varanasi, an area rarely visited by tourists…

By Jeremy 'Jai' Oltmann
Founder of Varanasi Walks

On this tour we’ll explore the snaking alleys and busy bazars in the north of Varanasi, which is rarely visited by tourists. Led by a local guide, you’ll start in the centre of the business area, which is filled with shops, houses and temples. This ancient district is home to the wholesale silk market, which was started by a businessman and the king of Varanasi and takes over an entire city block. I’ll tell you all about the history of the Asian Silk Route and how Varanasi’s finest silks made their way to Versailles Palace in France. Other highlights include the pots and pans bazar and a famous samosa shop that dates back to the 1800s.

You’ll also get to visit temples and mosques hidden within the alleyways that only locals know about. There’s a Gopal temple and next to it, a mosque, which is a great place to discuss how Varanasi’s Hindu and Muslim people live and work together in harmony; Muslim people traditionally made silk products here and Hindu’s sold them on. We also visit the riverside where the mystic Kabir used to write poetry before diving into the twisting back alleys again. Along the way, we’ll meet local characters – perhaps we’ll stop to talk to a sweet vendor or a priest at the temple – the experience provides a real insight into Varanasi life that tourists often miss.


  • Community
  • Culture
  • History
  • Trips to take

Available in these itineraries…

Alfred & Jeremy 'Jai' Oltmann

Jeremy 'Jai' Oltmann hails from Minneapolis, USA, and has lived in India since 1997. After working among marginalised communities in New Delhi he studied Hindi language and completed a Bachelor of Social Work. While overseeing a study abroad program in Varanasi, Jai developed VaranasiWalks which explores the city's hidden lanes and sacred sites. Jai is also a yoga teacher and Master of Sociology.
Jeremy Oltmann, Varanasi Walks

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Malcolm, who's travelled extensively in India. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember.

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