Known to be one of the oldest living cities in the world, the holy city of Varanasi is laced serenely on the banks of the holy river Ganges. Varanasi is referred to be the holiest of the seven revered cities in Jainism and Hinduism. As per the Vedas, it is the city of Shiva and amongst the holiest places in India to cremate their loved ones. Also, to wash away their sins in the holy dip of Ganges, this city has been named with different names like Benares, Kashi (City of Light). Almost since eternity, this city has been the nucleus of the Hindu Universe for both physical and spiritual aspects. One can find unique tranquillity in every corner of the city.
Apart from its historical and religious aspect, Varanasi is known for many unique things such as Banarasi Carpets, Banarasi Pan, Banarasi Saree, and the Banaras Hindu University (BHU)– Asia’s one of the oldest residential universities. In addition to that, the city is known for its ancient Ghats, the ghats which have been here since the Vedic times. In the following write-up, we have mentioned about the holy Ghats of Varanasi, which attracts a huge of tourists and pilgrims not only from India but from around the world.
1. Dasaswamedh Ghat
One of the busiest ghats of Varanasi, this ghat is centrally located on the shores of the River Ganges. This ghat derives its name from the ancient story of Brahma sacrificed (Medh) 10 horses here. Another spiritual significance of this ghat is that it falls second on the holy Panch-Tirtha Yatra of Hindus. This magnificent ghat can be recognized by its flat-roofed building which houses the holy shrine of Hindu Goddess Shitala.
2. Manikarnika Ghat
As per Hindu belief, the one who gets to die in the holy city of Varanasi surely gets Mukti (freedom from the cycle of life and death). In this belief, the Manikarnika Ghat holds a very important place. It is the formal cremation Ghat of Varanasi. This Ghat is usually crowded with funeral parties and is subjugated by the Doms, who is believed to be the guardian of the dead. It is to be noted that this lies at the centre of the Panch-Tirtha as it signifies both creation and destruction, symbolized by the blend of the sacred well of Manikarnika Kund and Manikarnika Ghat.
3. Assi Ghat
Located at the southernmost part of this pious city, Assi Ghat is a clay-banked Ghat sited right where the river Assi meets the Ganges. On the visit, it is a mandatory tradition for pilgrims to take bathe in the waters prior to worshipping at a huge lingam under the Peepal tree. It is a very scenic ghat of Varanasi where pilgrims are supposed to take bathe at in a series of the ritual route referred to as the Panch-thirty Yatra.
4. Harish Chandra Ghat
As the name suggests, this ghat is named after the mythological King Harish Chandra. According to folklores, the King has a great belief in truth and charity and to preserve the same, had once worked at the cremation ground on this ghat. It is one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi and the second most important cremation ghat after Manikarnika.
5. Tulsi Ghat
Last but not least; Tulsi Ghat is another important ghat of the city. This ghat has been named after Tulsidas, the great Hindu poet (of the 16th century). According to popular belief, Ramcharitmanas (the great epic) was composed by Tulsidas Ji here. During the Hindu lunar month of Kartika (October-November), Krishna Leela is staged here with huge fanfare and devotion.
In succinct, Varanasi is one of the most popular tourist as well as the revered city in India and across the world.