James May: Our Man In India Varanasi Episode (S3 E2 - A Bit Like Glasgow)


By : Sheila Jones


Our experience with Kunal in Varanasi was absolutely unforgettable. From the moment he greeted us, it was evident that he was not just a guide, but a true ambassador of the city's culture and charm. Kunal expertly navigated us through the labyrinthine alleyways of old Varanasi, introducing us to local characters and hidden gems that we would have never discovered on our own. His connections with the community were evident as we met friendly faces along the way, immersing ourselves in the vibrant tapestry of Varanasi's culture. Visiting temples and an Ashram with Kunal was a highlight, as he effortlessly facilitated interactions with hospitable priests, enriching our understanding of the city's spiritual fabric. Attending the evening Aarti ceremony with Kunal was a highlight of our trip. Despite the vast crowds, he ensured we had prime seating, allowing us to witness the spectacle with awe and reverence. The seamless transition to experiencing Varanasi's renowned street food scene was another testament to Kunal's expertise. Sampling delectable treats amidst the bustling atmosphere was a sensory delight, showcasing the intricacies of Indian culinary culture. To cap off our evening, Kunal arranged for a memorable rickshaw ride back to our hotel, filled with laughter and camaraderie. His attention to detail and commitment to ensuring our satisfaction truly made our Varanasi experience exceptional. Kunal's guidance and warmth elevated our trip, leaving us with cherished memories of this enchanting city. We wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone seeking an authentic and enriching Varanasi adventure.

By : Charles Ludlam


I’ve traveled in 80 countries over the last 55 years and Kunal is a world-class guide. He’s very well connected to the internet (smart phone) so he’s easy to work with in advance to define an itinerary. He’s very attentive to detail. Best of all, he’s a great listener; he tailors each tour to the individual style of his client. He’s an enjoyable traveling companion. A great guy, very engaging and willing to tell many personal and family stories. He speaks superb English; he can understand Americans emotionally, not just practically. He was very sensitive to the need to take breaks for coffee, lunch or rest periods at the hotel. I’m 70 and never got exhausted from the four days of tours. He took me to great and hygienic restaurants. He kept me safe at all times and shepherded me through the horrific traffic jams associated with Diwali. He showed me the richness of Varanasi. He loves this town and enabled me to love it also. He grew up in Varanasi so he knows the town, every alley. Everywhere we want he was seeing people he knows. He knows the off the beaten track sites, and the culture and life of the citizens of Varanasi; indeed that’s his specialty. To start with he bought my train tickets in India – Kolkata to Varanasi, Varanasi to Sikkim, and Sikkim to Kolkata, done perfectly. He knows all the ins-and-outs of the schedules and classes of service. I’d thought I’d have to go back to Kolkata to get to Sikkim but he knew there was direct train; that saved me a day on the trains. I could never have made these reservations on my own. When I arrived in Varanasi at 6:30 pm from Kolkata, Kunal was there to help me with the transition to my hotel. It was dark and the train station was a huge crowd scene, so it was very helpful that he was there to help me. He’d recommended that I book the Palace on the Ganges and it was a superb choice. Then Kunal organized three a half days of fabulous tours. Timewise that’s what it takes to really see Varanasi. I asked Kunal to show me Varanasi as the locals see it. I wanted to see the culture, not buildings. Kunal knows the best boatmen, the best TukTuk drivers, and the best rickshaw wallas. He easily adjusted to my priorities; as I have said, he’s an excellent listener. In fact, being a good listener is the most important skill of a tour guide. On the fourth day of touring, we visited back alleys in Varanasi – watching the local wrestlers practicing and visiting four local shrines. We then took a car out to Saranath, where Buddha first taught. A complex of sites. Then Kunal accompanied me to the MugalSerai train station for my train for Sikkim. He’s pledged to wait for the train to depart to make sure I was safe and comfortable. I was traveling on the day before Diwali when the trains were sure to be extremely full – over flowing. My train was 5 hours late! And he stayed with me – completely disrupting his personal plans. I kept telling him that I could probably handle it, but his professionalism would not permit that. You learn what your guide’s values are in tough situations like this. And Kunal is a consummate professional. He is very protective at all times and I never felt unsafe on these four days with him. I admire Kunal. He had a bank job – with more income and stability – with a bank but his passion is telling stories. So he’s now a guide. He’s following his passions. He’s extending his business to Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – recruiting other guides with his “off the beaten track” values. So if you’re planning a trip ranging well beyond Varanasi, Kunal can set you up for that. A guide like Kunal is absolutely indispensable in enjoying a complex place like Varanasi. And in handling the difficulties that can accompany traveling in India. He made all the difference on my trip. His professionalism in supporting me with the delayed train says it all. He’s dedicated to his clients, If you’re going to fly that far to get to Varanasi, you need to make sure that you see it in depth with someone who will give you insights at every turn.

By : Sadhna

South Africa

Our trip to India will always be remembered with fond memories, mainly because of our tour guide, Kunal. The spiritual experience was enhanced by the passion and knowledge that was passed onto us by Kunal. In a foreign land we were treated as friends and were received great service and hospitality from Kunal. Besides being always punctual for our tours, he went beyond his working hours to ensure we maximized on our stay in Varanasi. Thank you Kunal for making our trip so memorable.

By : Leo and Jeannette

The Netherlands

We were in Varanasi on September 18, 2014. We were very fortunate to have Kunal as our guide for the early morning boatride and the evening aarti. Kunal is a very passionate man en a very warm personality. We loved to spend time with him and to learn so much about Varanasi and Hiduism from him. Thank you very much!

By : Mercedes


Del viaje tan maravilloso que hice por la India, recuerdo con mucho cariño la ciudad de Varanasi por las personas tan maravillosas que conocí allí, sobre todo a Kunal que nos enseñó con toda su dedicación y conocimiento lo más interesante de esta bella ciudad. Es una persona muy preparada que le gusta mucho su trabajo y se entrega totalmente a las personas que necesitan de su ayuda. Gracias Kunal por preocuparte y cuidarnos cuando te necesitamos.

By : Bill Cooper


I was in Varanasi in January 2013 and had the good fortune to have Kunal as my guide. He truly made the experience memorable. He was quite knowledgeable about temples and the culture of the ghats and other cultural sites in Varanasi. He was a wonderful guide and took the time to find out what I was interested in seeing, and then made it happen. We spent several hours in Sarnath, as well. He is sensitive to the needs of his guests and a true gentleman. I highly recommend Kunal.

By : Tomás


Con diferencia la mejor persona que nos hemos encontrado en nuestro viaje a la India. Amable, servicial, perfectamente preparado y de total confianza. Nos ayudó todo lo que pudo y más en recuperar nuestras maletas perdidas en el vuelo desde Europa y en facilitarnos todo lo posible un viaje perfecto. Gracias Kunal!!! Sin duda, lo recomendamos fuertemente.

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