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Varanasi known as Kashi or Banaras, stands as one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities and serves as a cultural heart of India. Situated along the sacred Ganges River, Varanasi is deeply imbued with spirituality, mythology, and tradition. Its intricate alleyways are alive with vibrant colours, busy markets, and the resonant sounds of ancient chants. Pilgrims gather at its ghats—stone steps descending to the river—to conduct sacred rituals, cremate loved ones, or bathe in the holy waters to purify themselves from sin. Visiting these ghats is like stepping into a realm where spirituality, culture, and the splendour of the Ganges River converge. Each ghat has its unique story, offering insights into Varanasi's rich traditions. Let us delve into the must-visit ghats in Varanasi.

 

Manikarnika Ghat:

Manikarnika Ghat is one of the main cremation sites in Varanasi and is associated with two legends. According to the first, Vishnu dug a pit with his Chakra and filled it with his sweat during intense penance. While Vishnu was meditating, one of Shiva's earrings, called manikarnika, accidentally fell into the pit. The second legend tells how Parvati hid her earrings at this spot to keep Shiva from wandering. She claimed to have lost them along the banks of the Ganges. According to this story, whenever a body is cremated at Manikarnika Ghat, Shiva asks the departing soul if it has seen the missing earrings.

 

Assi Ghat:

According to Hindu belief, Assi Ghat in Varanasi is historically significant. Legend has it that after Goddess Durga defeated the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha, she threw her sword, called "ASI," into the river, which gave the ghat its name. This location is mentioned in ancient texts such as the Matsya Purana and Padma Purana. It is believed that bathing in the river at Assi Ghat cleanses one's sins, earning it the title "Saimbeda Tirtha." The Ganga aarti is performed here both in the morning and evening, attracting visitors from around the world. Additionally, Assi Ghat hosts the Subah-e-Banaras program every morning, featuring melodious songs, chants, and a sunrise aarti, making it a must-see in Varanasi.

Ghats of Varanasi

 

Dashashwamedha Ghat:

Dashashwamedh Ghat, located near the Vishwanath Temple, is the most famous ghat in the area. According to legend, Brahma performed ten Ashwamedha sacrifices at this site. Every evening, a lively aarti ceremony is held here, honouring Shiva, the goddess Ganga, Surya, Agni, and all of creation.

 

Harishchandra Ghat:

Harishchandra Ghat has a long history mentioned in various Hindu scriptures and mythologies. Named after the famous king Harishchandra, it is one of Varanasi's eighty-eight well-known ghats. Along with Manikarnika Ghat, it is one of the two main cremation sites. Hindus from all over India bring their loved ones here for last rites, believing that cremation at Harishchandra Ghat grants moksha, or salvation, freeing them from the cycle of rebirth.

 

Kedar Ghat:

Kedar ghat is named after the famous temple of Kedareshwar Shiva situated within its vicinity. The Kedareshwar Shiva Temple is recognized as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Kashi, as mentioned in ancient texts like the Matsyapuran, Agnipuran, Kashikhand, and Brahmavaivarta Purana. Furthermore, Gaurikund is located on the steps of the ghat, enhancing its religious importance.

 

Tulsi Ghat:

Tulsi Ghat in Varanasi is not just any riverside spot; it is a place of great tourist interest because of its deep cultural roots. It is famous as the spot where the medieval saint Tulsi Das wrote the Awadhi version of the revered epic, Ramcharitmanas, which makes it spiritually important.

 

Our View:

The ghats are the primary allure of Varanasi, drawing people from all backgrounds to witness their presence along the riverbanks. The Ganga Aarti, a revered Hindu ritual where devotion is expressed through light and sound, embellishes the experience at various Varanasi ghats, adding to their beauty and serenity.


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