Varanasi or Kashi is the Holy city of India. It is one of the districts of the state of Uttar Pradesh and is located on the banks of the River Ganga. The two Ganges tributaries Varuna (north) and Assi (south) make up the name Varanasi. The essence of the city lies not only in its historicity but also in its cultural significance. Varanasi is one of the 7 sacred places which are a must-visit. The most significant tourist attractions are the Ghats of Varanasi. They are the epitome of holiness. There are around 88 Ghats in Varanasi and here are the top 10 most revered Ghats of the city.
1. Dashashwamedh Ghat
The most magical experience that one can get is at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. It is one of the oldest and the most majestic Ghats of the Ganga river. Its located near Vishwanath Temple. Some folklores of Hindu mythology suggest that the Ghat was a creation of Lord Brahma to welcome Lord Shiva. Some also state that it was the place where Lord Brahma made sacrifices of ten horses during DAS- ASHWAMEDHA YAGNA. The dusk is the witness to the magnificent Ganga Aarti at the ghat which occurs daily and is a spectacle for tons of people. It generates an ambience of harmony and spirituality.
2. Assi Ghat
The Assi Ghat is a great attraction for pilgrims from all over the country for a dip in the Holy river. It is the southernmost Ghat of the city. It is also a recreational site. The Ghat is most popular during the Shivratri festival wherein there are around 22000 people taking part in the celebration. The tourists prefer this location for its surreal atmosphere and peaceful surroundings. The belief is that the great saint Tulsidas left for his heavenly abode from this place.
3. Manikarnika Ghat
The Ghat is one of the purest and pious cremation grounds in India. It is a gateway to heaven. The Hindu mythology mentions Manikarnika Ghat under shaktism tradition. Sati’s self-immolation and the formation of 51 Shakti peethas is the reference to the Ghat. The belief is that Devi Sati’s earrings had fallen at the site. Other legends associated with the Ghat are that Lord Shiva’s earrings had fallen here hence the name.
4. Rajendra Prasad Ghat
The Rajendra Prasad Ghat finds its mention because it was named after the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad in 1979. It is an extension of the Dashashwamedha Ghat. The Ghat is known for hosting cultural programmes like GANGA MAHOTSAV.
5. Harishchandra Ghat
It is a cremation ground. Although it is much smaller than the Manikarnika Ghat, still it sees a huge footfall. The belief is if one is cremated here, they attain salvation. The mythic King Harish Chandra gives his name to the Ghat. Known for his truthfulness and charity, he had God’s blessings.
6. Ganga Mahal Ghat
The credit for its establishment goes to Narayan Dynasty in 1830. The ruler of Kashi, Prabhu Narayan Singh built a palace on the river bank named Ganga Mahal, hence the name Ganga Mahal Ghat. The architecture of the Ghat has a Rajput touch to it. The Ghat is a historical as well as a spiritual symbol.
7. Lalita Ghat
Established in the 19th century by the ruler of Nepal Rana Bahadur Shah. Goddess Lalita gives her name to the Ghat. It houses the Nepali Mandir and Lalita Gauri Mandir. Goddess Lalita is one of the Dasha Mahavidyas. She tends to eliminate problems and bring in prosperity. The Nepali Mandir is built in Kathmandu style. It has a statue of Pashupatinath, another name for Lord Shiva.
8. Tulsi Ghat
The Ghat is named after the great saint Tulsidas. Initially, the name was Lolark Ghat. The cultural activities that take place here are Lolark Shasti. For son birth as a blessing. The Ghat also witnesses Krishna Lila in October- November.
9. Raj Ghat
It is one of the famous Ghats of Varanasi and is located near the Kashi railway station. The Ghat houses the Ravidas temple and the Raj Ghat bridge. The evidence of Varanasi being a much older and ancient city can be gauged from the archaeological and excavation sites that exist near the Ghat. The Ghat also houses some of the Mauryan inscriptions which are a mark of its religious significance. The Ghat has been often seen as a spot for Asthi Visarjan and Pind daan.
10. Scindia Ghat
The Ghat is as old as 150 years. It was the work of the Scindias in 1830, hence the name Scindia Ghat. The Ghat has a Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The weight of the temple has resulted in its submergence. The God of Fire, AGNI DEV was born here. It is an absolute scenic view from this Ghat.
These were some of the Ghats that cannot be a miss if palling on a visit to Varanasi. The Ghats are an important part of the Culture and aesthetics of the city. For they are the symbol of its holiness. It is not just about the divinity and the mysticism of the Ghats, but also the references to legends and mythology. It is the Heart and Soul of India. These Ghats will not fail to charm you with their elegance and beauty.