Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites.
Varanasi’s ghats are set on the banks of the Ganges, a sacred river for the Hindus. Varanasi is home to around 87 ghats where pujas and aartis are conducted every day.
Along the city’s winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Watch this video on the city Varanasi
So, here are six of the most famous and most-visited ghats of Varanasi that should probably be on the Prime Ministers’ list of places to visit.
1. Dashashwamedh Ghat
The Dashashwamedh Ghat (pictured above) gets its name from the legend that Lord Bramha sacrificed ten horses (dasa- aswa, which translates to ten horses) during a yagna here. Most festivals are celebrated on a very grand scale here. It is located close to the Vishwanath Temple. This is also said to be the ghat where Bramha ‘created’ Shiva.
2. Assi Ghat
Located at the confluence of Ganga and Assi rivers, the Assi Ghat is the southernmost ghat of Varanasi. Like at several ghats, Assi Ghat witnesses an aarti ritual that is also a tourist attraction. The area around Assi Ghat is the setting for an unreleased Sunny Deol-starrer movie, Mohalla Assi, which itself has been adapted from a book Kashi Ka Assi that offers a satirical take on the commercialization of Varanasi. This is the place where the reknowned poet Tulsidas took his last breaths.
3. Chet Singh Ghat
Constructed by Maharaja Chet Singh in the 18th century, the eponymous Chet Singh Ghat is a fortified one. The ghat and its surrounding areas were witness to a fierce battle between Chet Singh and Warren Hastings, the first governor general of India. The beautiful ghat fell into the hands of the British after Chet Singh’s defeat who then lost it to Maharaja Prabhu Narayan Singh in the later half of the 19th century. Bathing isn’t advisable at this ghat since the current of the Ganges can be quite sharp.
3. Lalita Ghat
Lalita Ghat was built by the king of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah, when he lived in Varanasi during his exile. While here, he wanted to build a replica of the Pashupatinath Temple in Varanasi, and so began the construction of this ghat. There is a Nepali Temple and a temple dedicated to Lalita an incarnation of Goddess Adi-Shakti.
4. Man Mandir Ghat
Dating back to the 17th century, the Man Mandir Ghat is one of the oldest ghats of Varanasi. Constructed by Raja Savai Man Singh, it was originally named Someswara Ghat and is a classic example of royal Rajasthani architecture.
5. Munshi Ghat
The Munshi Ghat is home to the Darbhanga Palace which is a visual treat. The Darbhanga Palace was constructed by the royal family of Bihar and later was extended by the then finance minister Sridhara Narayana Munshi. The Darbhanga Ghat houses most of the Darbhanga Palace, a part of which is now converted into a hotel. Both these ghats are beautiful and are adjacently located, you can spend time wandering round the two ghats and admire the architecture.
6. Tulsi Ghat
Earlier referred to as Lolark ghat, the Tulsi Ghas gets its name form Tulsidas, the saint-poet who wrote the Ramcharitramanas. Tulsidas spent a large section of his life at this Ghat. it was cemented only in 1941, by Baldeo Das Birla. There is a Hanumana temple at the ghat, where there was a written copy of the Ramcharitramanas, which was stolen from the temple in 2011.
- Research and voice over by Farouk Satar
- Videography and editing by Ashvini Pillay