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What to view at Ghats in Varanasi : Varanasi Sightseeing

​The Ganges River is a great Indian river. A date with the Ganges for Hindus is possible in three cases. -

The first case is the most pleasant and natural. It is necessary to make a pilgrimage here during life, to swim here, observing certain rituals. Then there will be a purification in the literal and figurative sense of the word for the body and for the soul. This will well affect karma, which determines the cause of the next reincarnation of the soul, the cycle of birth and death - samsara.

The second case is unpleasant, but very desirable. One must come to the Ganges to die, and after that one must be cremated on the banks of the Ganges, and the ashes must be scattered over the river. Then the human soul is rewarded with liberation - moksha. Hindus believe that a man cremated here interrupts a closed cycle, tearing off a ring - an endless chain of births and deaths - samsara.

The third case is after death. Relatives must bring the ashes of the deceased in Varanasi and dispel it over the sacred river.

Ghats of Varanasi
Ghat Varanasi is the main attraction of the city. They are stone stepped embankments and have a length of about six kilometers. They number 80 from large and widely known to small almost imperceptible. Hindus use ghats to perform ritual ablutions in the Ganges. Two ghats are used to perform ritual cremations. To survey ghat is best from the river. This can be done on a simple boat. The best time for this is at sunset and at sunrise.

Assi Ghat
Assi Ghat is the southern most ghat in Varanasi. It received the name from the river Asi, which flows into this place in the Ganges. This river gave an ending in the name of the city of Varuna-asi. While the beginning of the name was given by another Varuna river. Asi translates as a sword. It is believed that the river Asi flows from the place where the Goddess Durga dropped her sword. Since then, the Asi River has protected the city from evil spirits and demons. You will be brought here by a boatman from the central ghats. From this ghat you will continue your boat trip along the Ganges to the north, examining one ghat after another.

Reva Ghat
Reva Ghat is one of the southern ghats of Varanasi. He continues the ghat embankment north following the Mahal Ghat and Asi Ghat.

Tulsi Ghat
Tulsi Ghat received its name on behalf of the poet Tulsidas, revered in India, who lived in the middle of the 16th - the beginning of the 17th century. He described the Ramayana in a romantic style. It is believed that the poet lived somewhere nearby. Your guide will tell you about this when you swim past him on a boat from the south to the north.

Shivala Ghat
Shivala Ghat - next to Tulsi Ghat when moving to the north. After him - Hanuman Ghat, and between them a large modern Hindu temple. By sailing past on a boat you will be able to carefully consider it and feel the unforgettable atmosphere of Hindu mysteries .

Harishchandra Ghat
Harishchandra Ghat received the name from the legendary king of the Sun dynasty, who ruled in one of the sacred cities of India - Ayodhya. Here and on the Manikarnika Ghat there are cremations (only on two of the 88 ghats). This ghat is considered the oldest.

Hanuman Ghat
Hanuman Ghat - is dedicated to Hanuman - the divine male ape, who is considered the son of the gods. The ghat is located inside the temple, which was built by settlers from South India.

Rana Mahal Ghat
The Rana Mahal Ghat is a continuation of the nearby Ghats, which is dedicated to the 64th yoginas - servants of the revered goddess Kali. Nearby is the temple of the same name. Above these ghats stands a large palace, built in the beginning of the XIX century. It is used for religious ceremonies.

Darbhanga Ghat
Darbhanga Ghat is framed by beautiful buildings in the form of a palazzo with two towers and columns, which was built in 1915 by the Bihar Raja. There is also the temple of Shiva and the sanctuary.

Ahilyabai Ghat
Ahilyabai Ghat was built in the late 18th century and named in honor of its creator - Queen Ahilyabai. There is also a temple of her name. Ghat has a wide ladder, like a few ghats. Therefore, it is convenient for pilgrims and laundry cleaners.

Jain Ghat
Jain Ghat received the name from the local Jain community, which reconstructed the ghat here. Since then, the Jains have been carrying out their ablutions and are conducting religious rituals on the southern side of the ghat. Two Jain temples adjoin it.

Chet Singh Ghat
Chet Singh Ghat was named after the palace with towers, towering over it. The city began to be built from palaces along the banks of the Ganges, then other rich nobles came here, and the city grew and expanded.

Bhadaini Ghat
Bhadaini Ghat derives its name from the not-preserved Temple of the Sun. It is considered one of the most ancient ghats of Varanasi. The walls of the ghat are built of brick and stone. Bathing or religious rituals are not held here because the pumping stations and other hydrotechnical constructions of the city are located nearby.

Kedar Ghat
Kedar Ghat - received its name on behalf of the temple of red and white sandstone, located on the banks of the Ganges. He is one of the central ghats of the waterfront. There is the linga of Kedareshwara, carved from a black stone with white veins. The temple of Shiva Kedarnath (the abode of Shiva) was built by one of the Maharajas, famous for the fact that three thousand wives and concubines were burned with him in a funeral pyre. It is mythically devoted to two Himalayan peaks, seven thousandths, from where originates one of the origins of the Ganges.

Raja Ghat
Raja Ghat until the end of the XIXth was used as a pier for the crossing to the opposite shore of the Ganges. However, in connection with the construction of the British bridge in 1887, the need for a boat ferry disappeared

Chaumsathi Ghat
Chaumsathi Ghat is named after the small temple of the sixty-four yoginas above it. The ghat is framed by rich mansions built in the early 19th century.

Lali Ghat
Lali Ghat was built at the end of the XVIII century by the raja of Benares, as it was then called Varanasi. On the upper side of the ghat are the temples of Lambodar Chintamani, Vinayaka, Kitrateshvara, Jayanta Shiva Lingam and Maha Lakshmi. Now ghat is actively used by the dhobi laundry washing group.

Sindhia Ghat
Sindhia Ghat is one of the extreme northern ghats. It easily differs from many others by the presence on it of a small temple, shrine of Shiva, which is submerged by the waters of the Ganges. Probably, it was built too close to the water, and the ghat went under the water under its weight.

Man Mandir Ghat
Man Mandir Ghat got its name on behalf of the Raja from Amber, who built his chic palace here at the end of the 16th century. It can be seen now. On its roof in the beginning of the XVIII century was built an observatory. Nearby are several sanctuaries. Our voyage by boat on the Ganges began at this ghat.

Panchganga Ghat
Panchganga Ghat is one of the three main ghats of Varanasi, along with Dashashwamedha Ghat and Manikarnika Ghat. Ritual circumambulation of these ghats and washing in the Ganges on them is called Tri-Tirtha Yatra. It is believed that bathing in these 3 places for one day relieves the burdens of the corporal shell. This is the smallest circle. If you include in the bathing Assi Ghat and Varuna Ghat, getting rid of the hardships will happen more reliably. It is important to observe the order of bathing.

Well, if you follow all the rules, then you need to do a 58-kilometer path around Varanasi, starting with the ghat Manikarnika. On the bank of the river you need to go south to Assi Ghat, then go around the city, visiting 108 shrines. Not easy? Yes! But it is considered that this path is equivalent to circling the whole earth

Manikarnika Ghat
Manikarnika Ghat is one of the two ghats in Varanasi (along with Harishchandra Ghat), where cremation is performed. Hindus believe that it is here in Varanasi, revered as the most holy place in the world, you can get rid of the burden of worldly vanity, and enter a world in which other values ?. It is believed that the one who died in Varanasi, is awarded the liberation of moksha. Hindus believe that a person cremated here interrupts a closed cycle, tearing off the ring - an endless chain of births and deaths - to Samsara.

Old people and old women from all over India travel to Varanasi to die and be burned on ghats along the river. Those relatives who have the means, try to transport here already dead people. Caring relatives sometimes drag the living here, and expect death to fulfill the desires of the deceased, others save it for life.

The cost of burning a fire from a tree is about one hundred dollars, a huge sum for most Indians. And the price can be even greater if you use sandalwood firewood. Before putting the deceased on a fire, it is washed in the waters of the Ganges, that is, the procedure looks like "water-fire-water".

Thus, the elements of water and fire purify the karma of man from all accumulated sins. It is said that, as an alternative, there is an electric crematorium, which costs ten times cheaper. However, this method, they say, is not very much in demand, even by beggars. Photographing Manikarnika Ghat is not allowed. But, tourists passing by it, still break the rule, using the approaching lenses.

Dashashwamedha Ghat
Dashashvamedha Ghat is the largest and most famous ghat of Varanasi. In translation, its name means "the place of sacrifice of 10 horses." In accordance with the myth dedicated to the king of the Aryans Divadasi, the creator of the trinity of the gods Brahma performed the sacrifice at this place. Shiva and Parvati were waiting for the patience of the king to burst, and he would leave the city of Kashi (formerly called Varanasi), allowing them to return there. However, thanks to a number of sacrifices, King Devadasi became entrenched in the city for a long time. Since then, the main Varanasi puja has been performed here. Only in order to see the puja from Dashashvamedha Ghat is it worth coming here ...

It takes place every day at sunset in the form of a Ganga Maha Aarti ceremony, that is, a puja dedicated to the mother Ganga, Mahadeva Shiva and other gods. To see this puja, you can try to find a convenient place on the Ghat itself, but there are a lot of people, both local and tourists. Therefore, many prefer (so did we) to look at the puja from the water. To do this, you need to hire a boat, and together with dozens of other boats you will swim to the Dashashvamedha Ghat and can be guaranteed to see the sacrament.

It is believed that the current Aarti rite from the ancient Vedic ceremony of offering to the deities of the ritual fire of Homa and Yagya. The essence of the ceremony in the expression of love, humility and gratitude to the gods for the life of all living beings and their protection, carried out in the form of ritual offerings. The ceremony is necessarily accompanied by hymns to the deities (this is one of the meanings of the word "Aarti"), dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Mother Ganga. The ceremony lasts more than an hour.

The gods are offered offerings in turn during the puja. They symbolize five elements, five aspects of the universe for the entire period of existence: space, wind, fire, water and earth. Over the ghat incense is spread, for example, incense - its fragrant smoke symbolizes the purified state of the human mind and the desire to comprehend the divine essence. The simplest offering is in the form of flowers. You will be offered to buy a bowl of palm leaves to light a candle and make a wish. Do not refuse! This can be done by everyone, regardless of religion. During puja, people let hundreds of such pots down the Ganges. And you will see how your bowl with a lighted candle will join other pieces, and they will peacefully sail into the darkness ...

The most fascinating part of this ceremony is the offering of fire. Fiery lamps in the hands of the Brahmins are the most important ritual element. They burn ghee - purified and overturned cow oil (sacred animal) and karpur - camphor oil. Fire is a symbol of the Sun and its heat, without which life is impossible. Lamp for the time of the ceremony Ganga Aarti himself acquires the status of a deity.

In general, a fantastic and fascinating ceremony ...

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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

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