North India Tours

Home    |    FAQ 

North India Tours

    Google Search   www Indo Vacations      

North India Temples
North India Tours
Glory of North India and Nepal
North India Temple Tour
Highlights of North India
Golden Triangle Tour
North India Train Tour
Golden Triangle and Goa Tour
North India Wildlife Tour

View all ››

North India Sunrise
About North India
North India Information
North India States
Shopping North India
Adventure Sports
Architecture and Sculpture
Pilgrimage Place
Buddhist Pilgrimage
North India Wildlife
Hill Stations
Car Rental
Reaching North India
North India Dances
North India Music and dance
North India Dances
North India Music
Musical Instruments
North India Places
Other Destinations
Jammu and Kashmir
Himachal Pradesh

Varanasi Ghats

Ghats, Varanasi
The Ghats and the human activity on them are the principal attraction for the tourists to Varanasi. The Ghats are the wide stone steps that leads down to the river for almost 5 km along the west bank of the River Ganges in Varanasi. Thousands of pilgrims and devotees visit these Ghats to meditate and purify themselves by taking a bath in the holy river Ganges. Behind the Ghats rise the magnificent superstructure of temples, havelis, domes and minarets of mosques.

Varanasi Ghats

Viewing the ghats early in the morning from a boat on the river can be an unforgettable experience. In the early morning the mist clears, the light is brighter and the ghats reverberate with the chant of mantras, the sound of bells and the cries of the vendors.

Varanasi has about 100 ghats. Many are bathing ghats but at the others, cremations are conducted. Many of these ghats were built when the Marathas controlled the city and the Scindias, the Peshwas, Holkars and Bhonsles stand out as patrons of Varanasi. Even today many of the ghats are privately owned. The Shivala or Kali Ghat is still owned by the former Maharaja of Varanasi. The main bathing ghats are Assi, Dasaswamedh, Barnasangam, Panchaganga and Manikarnika. To bath at these five ghats in this order in a day is known as the Panch Tirtha Yatra.

Various legends are associated with the ghats. Dashashvamedha Ghat takes its name from a complicated ritual ‘The Place of Ten Horse Sacrifices’ that was performed by the King of Kashi, Divodasa, in the age of the gods. Divodasa had been appointed king by Brahma, God of creation, at a time when the world was in chaos and he accepted the job only if all the god would leave Varanasi and let him do his job unhindered. Even Siva was forced to leave but he set the test for Divodasa confident that he would get the ceremony wrong and this would allow the God back into the city. Siva was wrong as the ritual was performed flawlessly. The ghat has thus become one of the holiest and bathing here is regarded as meritorious as making the sacrifice.

The Shivala Ghat is situated after the temple. The uninspiring temple houses an image that is sprinkled with ganga water. The ghat is especially popular with women. The Munshi Ghat is a place where some of the city’s sizeable Muslim population come to bathe. The river has no religious significance for them. Adjacent are the Pandeya Ghat and Rana Ghat, the latter built by the Maharana of Udaipur. Professional washermen work at the Dhobi Ghat. Their method is to soak the clothes in the river mud, beat them around a bit, then rinse. There is religious merit in having your clothes washed in the sacred Ganga. The Raja Ghat is associated with the Raja of Pune and here the high-water levels are recorded. You can see from the flood level marked in July 1967 that at times the steps can be almost completely covered, difficult to imagine when the river is at its lowest ebb in Jan or Feb. Next is the Kedara Ghat, named after Kedarnath, a pilgrimage site in the Uttaranchal. This ghat is especially popular with Bengalis and South Indians. The Tulsi Ghat is dedicated to great saint Tulsi Das who wrote the 'Ram Charit Manas', the Hindi translation of the Ramayana.

The Harishchandra Ghat is particularly holy and is dedicated to the king Harishchandra whose devotion to Brahma was given a series of rigourous of tests by the god. Harishchandra performed these, including becoming a servant at the Varanasi crematorium, so the impressed Brahma named this ghat after him. It is now the most sacred cremation ghat. Behind the ghat is a gopuram of a Dravidian style temple. The Karnataka Ghat is one of many regional ghats. These are attended by priests who know the local languages, castes, customs and festivals.


The Hanuman Ghat is where Vallabha, the leader of a revival in the Krishna Bhakti Cult is believed to have been born at the end of the 15th century. This is popular with bodybuilders and wrestlers since Hanuman epitomizes the qualities associated with these sports. The Hanuman Ghat has the Hanuman temples and Kanchi Kam Kotishwara. Chet Singh’s Fort stands behind the Sivala Ghat. The fort was the old palace of the Maharajas, was taken by the Muslims and retaken by Chet Singh. He later made an escape from the British who had imprisoned him in his own fort for tax evasion by climbing down to the river and swimming away. Jain Ghat is used by Jain devotees. The Bachraj Ghat is used by Jain devotees for it has three river bank Jain temples. Anandamayi Ghat is named after the Bengali Anandamayi who died in 1982. She was born in a poor family, received enlightnment at the age of 17 and spent her entire life teaching and

Manikarnika Ghat Varanasi

setting up charitable missions. One of her ashrams is here. Her name Anandamayi Ma means ‘Mother of Bliss’. Furthest upstream is the Asi Ghat, one of five that pilgrims should bathe from in a day. The order is: Asi, Dasasvamedh, Barnasangam, Panchganga and Mainkarnika.

Man mandir Ghat was built by Maharajah Man Singh of Amber in 1600 and is one of the oldest in Varanasi. The palace here has been much restored in the last century with brick and plaster. The fine stone balcony on the north-east corner gives an indication of how the original looked. Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur converted the palace into an observatory in 1710. The instruments are inside but not used. Near the entrance is a small Siva Dalbhyeshvara Temple whose shrine is a lingam immersed in water. During drought, water is added to the cistern to make it overflow for good luck. Dom Raja’s house is next door. The Doms are the Untouchables of Varanasi who are integral to the cremation ceremony. As Untouchables they can handle the corpse, a ritually polluting act for Hindus. They also supply the flame from the temple for the funeral pyre. Their presence is essential and also lucrative since there are fees for the various services they provide. The Dom Raja is the hereditary title of the leader of these Untouchables. Mir Ghat leads to the Nepalese temple of Vishalakshi. The Lalita Ghat has a beautiful temple built in carved wood by the late King of Nepal.

Above the Marnikarnika Ghat is a well into which Siva’s dead wife Sati’s earring is supposed to have fallen when Siva was carrying her after she committed suicide. The Brahmins managed to find the jewel (marnikanika) from the earring and returned it to Siva. He blessed the place. Offerings of bilva flowers, milk, sandalwood and sweetmeats are thrown into the tank. Between this and the ghat is Charandapuka, a stone slab with the footprints of Vishnu. A few privileged families are allowed cremations here. The Marnikarnika Ghat is immensely popular as a burning ghat. Dattatreya Ghat is named after a Brahmin who left his footprint here. Scindia’s Ghat was originally built in 1830 but it was so huge that it collapsed and had to be done again. Ram Ghat was built by the Maharaja of Jaipur. The Mansarover Ghat was also built by Man Singh of Amber.

Five rivers are supposed to meet at the magnificent Panchganga Ghat – the Ganga, Sarasvati, Yamuna, Kirana and Dhutupapa. It is one of the five main pilgrimage ghats in Varanasi. The impressive flights of stone steps run up to the Smaller Mosque of Aurangzeb (late 17th century) which occupies the site of an earlier Vishnu Temple. Early European visitors to India such as Tavernier, marveled at the size and opulence of the temple and its images. It is, perhaps, not surprising that Aurangzeb knocked it down. At Gaya Ghat there is a stone statue of a sacred cow while at Trilochana Ghat there is a temple of Siva in his form as the ‘Three-eyed’ (Trilochana). There are two turrets sticking out of the water. Raj Ghat is the last on the boat journey. Excavations have revealed that there was a 9th century BC city situated on a grassy knoll near here. Raj Ghat was where the river was forded until bridges were built across the river.


Home    |    About Us    |    FAQ    |    Site Map    |   Contact Us


Copyright ©, Indo Vacations®. All Rights Reserved.