Varanasi is a labarinth of winding alleys and packed streets, virtually unintelligible on a map. However, the city can be broken down into a few distinct, discernable areas. The most significant points to remember is that the Ganges River is always east and the Cantonment, the main business district is in the west.
In India, almost every city has a Cantonment area since this was the Raj-era term for the administrative and military area of a city. In this center, there is really little to see except this is where one goes to buy a ticket for the train or exchange money at a bank.
There is a Muslim quarter as well, where there are many temples, mosques and ashrams (in other word learning centres). In this quarter there is also the main vegetable market and cheap accommodation for those on a budget.
In the middle of this is a tangle of streets where haphazardly, tourists can discover beautiful mosques such as the Great Mosque of Aurangzeb, Hindu temples, kids playing marbles or selling flowers in the street, women washing clothes in the river, women making offerings in tiny Siva shrines, beggars napping in the alleyways, cows wandering lazily around the streets.