Ghats of Varanasi are a defining feature of the city’s cultural and religious landscape. A “ghat” is a series of steps leading down to a body of water, and in the case of Varanasi, these ghats descend to the banks of the holy River Ganges. The ghats play a significant role in the spiritual and social life of the city, serving as places of worship, rituals, bathing, cremation, and social interaction. Here are some of the most prominent ghats in Varanasi:
Dashashwamedh Ghat: This is one of most famous and bustling ghats of Varanasi. It is known for the elaborate Ganga Aarti (worship ceremony) every evening. Pilgrims and tourists gather here to witness the beautiful ritual of lamps, fire, and chants dedicated to the Ganges River.
Manikarnika Ghat: This ghat is the main cremation ghats of Varanasi. Hindus believe that cremating here and having one’s ashes immersed in the Ganges can help attain salvation. The ghat is constantly busy with cremation activities.
Harishchandra Ghat: Like Manikarnika Ghat, Harishchandra Ghat is also used for cremations. It is named after the legendary king Harishchandra, known for his unwavering devotion to truth and righteousness.
Assi Ghat: Situated at the confluence of the River Ganges and the Assi River, this ghat is known for its peaceful ambience. It is believed that Lord Shiva’s consort, Goddess Durga, threw her sword into the river at this spot after defeating the demon Shumbha-Nishumbha.
Kedar Ghat: This ghat is known for its connection to Lord Shiva’s appearance as a sage. It is believed that Lord Shiva appeared here as a sage, and hence the ghat holds spiritual significance.
Tulsi Ghat: Named after the famous poet-saint Tulsidas, this ghat is associated with the author of the epic poem “Ramcharitmanas.” A temple dedicated to Tulsidas can be found here.
Panchganga Ghat: This is considered sacred due to the confluence of five rivers: the Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, Kirana, and Dhutapapa. It is believed that a dip in the waters here can cleanse one of the sins.
Raj Ghat: This ghat is known for its cultural and literary heritage. It is named after the royal family of Nepal and has been a hub for scholars, writers, and artists.
These are just a few of the many ghats of Varanasi that line the banks of the Ganges. Each ghat has its unique history, significance, and rituals, contributing to the spiritual tapestry of the city.