Varanasi also known as Kashi and Banaras, is the oldest living city. It is also known as the “City of Ghats” as the sacred city is situated on the banks of the holy Ganges River. Varanasi comprises a total of eighty-four ghats and got its name from joining the name of its first ghat “Varuna” and the last “Assi” which in turn made Varanasi.
It is believed that the city is itself created by Lord Shiva and Kashi's axis is firmly held on his ‘Trident’ which truly makes this place like no other.
These iconic steps leading down to the holy river form the heart and soul of Varanasi, each ghat narrates its own story, purpose, and ambiance. These ghats have witnessed countless rituals, ceremonies, and spiritual seekers over the centuries, and they continue to hold an enchanting allure for visitors from around the world. In this blog, we’ll dive into the unique insights of Varanasi’s few most iconic ghats.
Join me as we embark on a journey to explore the mystique, history, and significance of the ghats of Varanasi.
So let’s begin the spiritual adventure!
Dashashwamedh Ghat, the oldest and most spectacular of the ghats, is located in the center of Varanasi. According to mythology, Lord Brahma performed a magnificent ritual of ten horses (Dashashwamedh) here, making it a spiritually significant site. Today, it is the site of numerous rituals, especially the famous Ganga Aarti, where thousands of devotees gather every evening to witness the breathtaking exhibition of lamps, prayers, and music.
A journey to Varanasi would be incomplete without witnessing Manikarnika Ghat, the cremation ground where the dead spirits are supposed to find salvation. This ghat depicts the unfathomable loop of life and death, as funeral pyres burn eternally and ashes are immersed in the sacred Ganges. While it may appear dramatic to some, observing the rites at Manikarnika Ghat provides a unique perspective on the cycle of life and the impermanence of existence. In simple terms, this ghat is considered the ‘mirror of life’.
This ghat has great religious importance and is located where the rivers Ganges and Assi meet. In the belief that bathing in the holy waters provides forgiveness for their sins, devotees throng to this place. Assi Ghat also serves as a hub for spiritual and cultural activities, hosting various music and dance performances, yoga classes, and spiritual endeavors. It's a bustling place where passion, creativity, and calmness all blend together perfectly.
Named after the legendary king Harishchandra, who was known for his unwavering truthfulness. This ghat is dedicated to cremation ceremonies. According to Hindu traditions, completing the last rites at Harishchandra Ghat secures the departed souls' moksha (freedom). As the rites take place against the calm backdrop of the Ganges, the atmosphere is filled with reverence and devotion.
A Fusion of Royalty and Spirituality Scindia Ghat stands out by its beautiful architecture and exquisite craftsmanship. It represents the royal elegance of a bygone period and was built by the Scindia family of Gwalior. People come to this ghat to perform religious rites, and it also serves as a departure point for Ganges riverboat trips. Scindia Ghat is a must-see for those looking for a peaceful vacation, thanks to its serene ambiance and architectural grandeur.
As we bid farewell to the ghats of Varanasi, we leave behind a place that has left an indelible mark on our souls. The experience of witnessing the morning rituals, observing the eternal flame of the Aarti ceremony, and absorbing the spiritual energy that permeates the air is one that resides within us long after we depart.
The ghats of Varanasi are not just physical structures but gateways to a world of profound spirituality and cultural heritage. They connect us to the rich tapestry of human existence and remind us of the cyclical nature of life and death.
So, if you ever find yourself craving a deeper connection with the divine, or a desire to immerse yourself in the history and traditions of India, make your way to the ghats of Varanasi.
There, amidst the gentle lapping of the sacred river and the flickering of ancient flames, you will discover a world that transcends time and touches the very essence of your being.
Wrapping on a famous chant from Varanasi, Har Har Mahadev!
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