15 IMPORTANT VARANASI GHATS
There is no place like Varanasi. Besides the beauty that it sets forth, no other place on this planet can match up to the spiritual and religious charms of this sanctuary. No wonder why so many pilgrims and tourists turn out every year just to catch a glimpse of it.
Spread in acres of land in the shape of the crescent moon on the bank of Holy Ganges are the Varanasi Ghats. A trip to Varanasi is incomplete without a dip in the Holy Ganges. The ghats of Varanasi (steps) just make that possible for the pilgrims and tourists.
If you are lucky you‘ll get to visit all 100 of them once in your lifetime. If you are not, then you can always visit the most important ones. Don’t know where to start? Then, without any further ado learn about the most important ghats of Varanasi with us and make your cultural trip to India a huge success.
1. MANIKARNIKA GHAT- the shakti peeth!
Come closer to the ultimate truth of life.
Witness the submission of human energy into nature at Manikarnika Ghat.
Fancy a burning ghat? Then, come to Manikarnika Ghat to witness the Hindu cremation ceremony. A glimpse of this ceremony laden with numerous customs and traditions(that helps the soul attain Nirvana) is both gratifying and daunting at the very same time.
It is the oldest and most revered spiritual sites in Varanasi. People believe that this ghat is blessed by the powers of the divinities and we second that. Take it from the numerous tales behind its existence. One of which states that the destroyer Shiva himself dug a well above its step.
It is believed that it was he who filled the well with sweat while finding the ear ornament of his beloved wife Sati.
And if it’s still not enough to please your mythology appetite, the ghat does have another site that can make you go gaga. Do you know that there is a slab of stone in between the steps and the well that is believed to bear the footprint of the preserver of the universe, Lord Vishnu? No? Well, now you do.
Places to visit nearby: Scindia Ghat, Nepali Temple and Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
2. DASHASHWAMEDH GHAT- fire and water
Let colours speak to you and the spectacle of devotion bedazzle your soul at the most lively ghat of Varanasi.
Located not too far away from Swami Vishwanath Temple, Dashashwamedh Ghat is one of the biggest and main ghats of this holy city.
There are two myths related to this Ghat involving the creator of the universe Lord Brahma and the preserver of the universe Lord Vishnu.
As per one myth, Lord Brahma sacrificed (medh) 10 (Das) horses (aswa) during the Dasa – Ashwamedha yajna( fire ceremony) here. Other involved him creating this ghat in order to welcome Lord Vishnu.
Sitting on the steps of this ghat and observing people drenching in spirituality is one of the top things to do here. And if you still have room for more, an evening here will be even more blissful. Why? That’s because they will be filled with prayers dedicated to fire god, Lord Shiva, River Ganga, Surya (Sun) and the whole universe.
Wait! Did we tell you that staged fire and dance routines also take place here?
Places to visit nearby: Jantar Mantar, an observatory built by Raja Man Singh.
3. ASSI GHAT- the spot of union
Where the magic and intrigue of devotion hits its very pinnacle that is where Assi Ghat exists.
Situated far south to the main ghats, Assi Ghat is one of the biggest Varanasi Ghats you’ll come across.
Visited by over 300 devotees every hour on a usual day and over 2500 during a festival, Assi Ghat is a hotspot for recreational and religious activities.
This Varanasi Ghat marks the confluence of Ganga and Assi. The origination of the river Assi was believed to be done by the Hindu Goddess Durga, who after slaying two demons threw her sword on the ground. The impact of which was so huge that it resulted in the origination of the river Assi.
Assi Ghat today is a place where long term students from abroad, researchers and tourists live. Apart from being such a gem because of its religious relevance, it is yet another vibrant spot on the Varanasi ghat map. A morning here starts with yoga, music, and pilgrims worshipping Shiv Lingams. What more to ask for?
Places to visit nearby:
4. HARISHCHANDRA GHAT- the reward of truth
Harishchandra Ghat is one of the two cremation Ghats of Varanasi. It is smaller than Manikarnika Ghat but wins hearts with the wholesome myth attached to it.
The story behind this Ghat professes the morals of living and the perks of following the path of truth and charity. It talks about a mythological king who once worked on this cremation ground for the preservation of truth and charity. As a result, God rewarded him with his lost throne and dead son.
According to Hindu mythology, if a person gets cremated here he/she directly attains moksha (Nirvana).
Harishchandra Ghat is also famous for a bizarre facet that involves playing Holi with the ashes of the dead by the Aghori Sadhus. This event takes place a day after the festival of colours. You will see Aghoris beating drums and chanting the name of Shiva at this event.
5. CHET SINGH GHAT- one with a lofty fort
Forts and Ghats, sounds like a weird concoction? Well, not at our next Ghat.
Chet Singh is a fortified ghat that has seen its share of war and violence through the ravages of time.
Famous earlier as the Khirki Ghat, this ghat is a peaceful getaway for people who enjoy watching moving life from a distance.
Today it has four parts known the Chet Singh Ghat, Niranjani Ghat, Nirvani Ghat and Shivala Ghat.
Missing some theological wonders? Don’t worry! It does have three Shiva temples resting proudly in its vicinity.
Chet Singh Ghat is famous for its seven day festivity, Budhwa Mangal festival. Other than that, if you are willing to dive in its tranquil waters, then we suggest you give it a pass. Why? That’s because the current of Ganges is quite sharp here.
6. DARBHANGA GHAT Or MUNSHI GHAT- gasp in awe
Named after its owner, Darbhanga ghat is another spectacle to catch on the travel map of Varanasi.
Named after the Brahmin king of Darbhanga, this sacred spot has a palatial building to elevate its glory. Today, this building serves as a hotel that accords visitors of Varanasi a pristine stay in the city of Gods.
So if you are looking for a royal stay amid the tranquil sound of gushing Ganges, then, Darbhanga Ghat will be the perfect place for you.
7. AHILYABAI GHAT- a marvelous tribute
Come visit the first ever Varanasi ghat named after a person.
A perfect spot for people watching and heaven for yoga seekers, Ahilyabai Ghat is a must-visit on Varanasi Ghat list.
Named after Rani Ahilyabai Holkar the queen of Indore, this ghat is a tribute to her contribution in creating a spiritual site as revered as the Vishwanath temple.
Fun fact: this ghat has a huge residential complex and a palace within its vicinity!
This place has a touch of Indore and can easily be spotted on a river cruise in Varanasi. So, if you are someone who wants to spend time in the company of the Holy Ganges away from all the crowd, then, this is the place to be.
8. DIGPATIA GHAT- the artistry ghat
If you are craving for some architectural pleasures, then this next ghat will definitely fulfill all your desires.
Located at the lower portion of Causatthi Ghat, Digpatia Ghat is an artistic masterpiece flaunting the finesse of Bengali architectural style.
Strolling through its corridors you will find porches bedecked with old images of deities and saints.
There is no shortage of awe gasping sights here and may be that is why one of the greatest Sanskrit Scholar also found his home here.
During the month of March and April, the Ghat is flooded with pilgrims willing to visit the Yogini Temple. So, if you happen to visit Varanasi during that time, do give this place a visit.
9. JAIN GHAT- the quaint one
If you see a huge swastika painted on the staircases from miles away, know that it the Jain Ghat you are looking at.
This Ghat has a unique significance in the Jain community and presents some spectacular views. So, without a doubt it is a paradise for all the shutterbugs as it offers amazing riverside and ghat walk views. If you are more religiously involved you can have a serene time at the historic temple tower here.
With quite calm waters, warm stone steps and mystic views, Jain Ghat is one of the most popular Varanasi Ghats. The compositions of colors at this ghat redefine bliss and the vibrant boat parked near it adds more intrigue to its beauty.
So, don’t miss to add this one to your list.
10. GANGA MAHAL GHAT- castle on the banks
Ganga Mahal Ghat was earlier the extension of the Assi Ghat. Today, it is one of the main ghats of Varanasi loved and valued by pilgrims across the country.
Separated by mere stone step walls, Ganga Mahal Ghat has the same merits as Assi Ghat. Famous for housing a pristine palace on its ghat, Ganga Mahal Ghat is an absolute royalty among all the Varanasi Ghats.
The palace on the banks of this ghat is used by educational institutions and is not open for tourists.
11. MANSAROVAR GHAT- the elixir of bliss
Mansarovar Ghat is named after the very tranquil Mansarovar Lake.
Built by Raja Man Singh of Amber, this Varanasi ghat showcases the same amount of finesse as you will see in any of the structures in Rajasthan.
This quaint Ghat is connected to a nearby well, which was once a large pool. Pilgrims believe that the water from this well bear the same merits as that the sacred lake Mansarovar in Tibet does.
12. SCINDIA GHAT- the pearl of time
You must have heard of the leaning tower of Pisa, but have you heard of a leaning temple partially submerged in water? No? Then, travel up north from the Manikarnika Ghat to witness this unusual sight at Scindia Ghat.
What? Why? How?
150 years back Scindia’s built this extravagant ghat but didn’t care much about the excessive weight they were putting on the banks. As a result of which one of the Shiv temples partially submerged in water.
The cluster of mazed alleyways and chaos above this Ghat leads to Kashi’s most influential shrines. This maze is popular as Siddha Kshetra- the field of fulfillment. Wait! There is more. This maze is supposedly the very spot where the Hindu God of fire was born. Isn’t that mind-bogglingly amazing?
13. NARAD GHAT- for myths and tales
Narad Ghat is infamous among locals for firing feuds in couples. Yes, that’s true! People beleieve that a dip in Narad Ghat can make a happy marriage an absolute nightmare.
There is nothing very noteworthy about the ghat in terms of aesthetics. However, it holds a high place in Hinduism as it houses the temple of Naradeshwar (a form of Lord Shiva).
Do you know that it was called Kuvai Ghat before, but changed its name due to the construction of the temple?
If you are anytime willing to pay this ghat a visit, look out for the four important idols. They are:
- Dattatreya Eshwara
14. TRIPURA BHAIRAVI GHAT- a breath of fresh air
Are you missing on some southern charms?
Do you want to get a taste of Southern delights in the North?
This Ghat derives its name from Tripura Bhairavi, the fifth great cosmic power in Hinduism. Here, in this ghat, you will come across two temples dedicated to the goddesses of Hinduism. One being that of Tripura Bhairavi and another of Varahi, one of the nine mother goddesses. So, get ready for the touch of Dravidian style architecture on your Varanasi ghat trip.
15. RAJA GHAT- the royal one
Raja Ghat brims in age old traditions.
As the name suggests, this ghat is the king of all ghats. It attracts tourists with its huge and thick walled fort like architecture, wider walking paths and stone-built steps.
Nestled between the famous Mansarovar and Pandey Ghat, Raja Ghat is the perfect place to saunter in thoughts. It accords the most quaint ambiance, perfect for anyone who enjoys the secludedness.