Assi Ghat, also called as 'Saimbeda Tirtha', is the southernmost Ghat in Varanasi. Situated at the junction of Ganga and Assi rivers, Assi Ghat has been mentioned in numerous ancient Hindu scriptures like Matsya Purana, Agni Purana, Kurma Purana, Padma Purana and Kashi khanda. Legend says that upon slaying the demons Shumbha-Nishumbha, Goddess Durga threw her sword away. Her sword fell on earth with full force creating a stream of a river, known as Assi River.
Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the most well known and one of the busiest ghats of Varanasi. The literal translation of Dasaswamedh means the sacrifice of ten horses. According to legends, ten horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma at this very site to allow Lord Shiva to return from banishment. Owing to this mythological story, the ghat became famous by the name of Dasaswamedh Ghat. Myriad of Sadhus are seen on the ghat every day, performing religious rites along the banks of river Ganga.
Manikarnika Ghat acts as the central cremation site in Varanasi and is one of the oldest and most sacred Ghats in Varanasi. According to Hindu mythology, the person cremated here achieves immediate liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Manikarnika Ghat lies at the centre of the five major Tirtha Sthals and symbolises both creation and destruction. Millions of people come down at this ghat to burn down the mortal remains of their dear ones and pray to the flames for eternal peace of the soul.
Scindia Ghat borders Manikarnika to the north and is governed by various myths and legends. Hindu mythology considers the ghat to be the place of birth of Agni, the God of Fire. A Shiva temple stands here partially submerged in Ganga and is believed to be so heavy that it caused the ghat to collapse into the river. It is believed that the temple is sinking continuously since then and it will soon be submerged in water. Some of Varanasi's most revered shrines are located above Scindia ghat in an area known as Siddha Kshetra.
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The Narayan dynasty ruled the city of Varanasi until 20th century A.D and in 1830 the Maharaja of Banaras constructed a grand palace on the banks of river Ganga, which came to be known as 'Ganga Mahal'. Since the palace was built on the ghat, the ghat was named as 'Ganga Mahal Ghat'. Stone steps between Assi Ghat and Ganga Mahal Ghat separate the two ghats and beautiful carvings on the ghat depict the grandeur and architectural culture of Rajputs.
The majestic Chet Singh Ghat is a fortified ghat in Varanasi, constructed by Maharaja Chet Singh in the 18th century. The ghat and its surrounding areas played as the backdrop for the fierce battle between Maharaja Chet Singh and Warren Hastings, the first governor-general of India. The grand Ghat then fell into the hands of the British after Chet Singh's defeat. The British then lost the ghat to Maharaja Prabhu Narayan Singh in the latter half of the 19th century.
Rewa Ghat holds immense historical perspective. This ghat in Varanasi was built by the royal priest of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, whose name was Lala Mishir and thus initially the Ghat was named as Lala Mishir Ghat. However, later in 1789, King of Rewa bought Lala Mishir Ghat and re-fortified it and renamed it as Rewa Ghat. The King of Rewa donated the Ghat to Benares Hindu University in the 20th century.
Tulsi Ghat is another essential ghat of Varanasi. Named after the celebrated poet and saint Tulsidas, Tulsi Ghat has been the stage of the first ever Ramleela as per Hindu legends. It is believed that when Tulsidas composed the tremendous Indian epic Ramcharitmanas in Varanasi, his manuscript once fell into Ganga and rather than sinking, it kept floating over the river near this ghat. A temple of Lord Ram was built on the Ghat, and many relics of Tulsidas are preserved at the Tulsi Ghat.
Harishchandra Ghat finds mention amongst the oldest and most significant ghats of Varanasi. The ghat is one of the two significant cremation Ghats in Varanasi, the other one being Manikarnika. It is named after the eminent King Harishchandra, who contributed a great deal to the cremation ground present here and towards the perseverance of truth and charity.
Earlier known as Vaccharaja Ghat, this ghat in Varanasi was purchased by the Jain community in 1931, and they fortified it, renaming it as Jain ghat. Jain society performs religious activities on this ghat and also takes a bath in the Southern region of the ghat. The Northern region, however, is inhabited by the Mallaha or boatman families, which gives a different bent to the Jain ghat.
Constructed by the Maratha king Bhonsale of Nagpur in 1780, Bhonshala Ghat is the site of two important holy shrines- Yameshwara temple and Yamaditya temple. Yameshwara temple is dedicated to Yama, the Lord of Death and is considered to radiate the energy of bravery and masculinity. Women are not allowed to enter this temple. Bhonshala Ghat is an excellent example of the contributions rendered by Maratha rulers, to the very lifeline of Varanasi.
Nishad Ghat was a part of the Prabhu Ghat until the 20th century. Later, the ghat was separated and inhabited by boatmen families whose small boats and nets can be seen here. One of the boatman families built a temple on this Ghat and named it as Nishad Raj Temple. The temple is dedicated to Nishadraj, the boatman who ferried Lord Rama to cross a river during his exile. He is believed to be the primary god of the boatmen community in Varanasi.
Niranjani Ghat has initially been a part of the Chet Singh Ghat. The ghat was established by a Naga saint in 1897 and was name as Niranjani Akhara. In the inner part of akhara, there are four shrines built by the king of Nepal. In the northern part of the Niranjani Akhara is another group of akharas of the same sect of Naga Dashanamis, called Mahanirvani.
This ghat in Varanasi gets its name from the Naga Saint Mahanirvani. According to oral sources, sage Kapila lived along this ghat, and as per legends, once Buddha took a bath at this site. The ghat is located on the North side of the Nirvani Ghat which serves as a resting place for nagas during and after the Kumbha Mela. The Maharaja of Nepal constructed four Shiva temples here making it religiously significant. It is also the site of Karttikeya temple, the only in Varanasi.
Dandi Ghat is a sacred spot for Dandi ascetics, who carry sticks in their hands. The parishioners of fakirs are a common sight at Dandi Ghat with hordes of contemplative yogis seen sitting on this ghat quite often. A significant aspect of this ghat is that it is relatively cleaner than the other ghats in Varanasi. Since the ghat is very clean, you can take a dip here anytime you feel like without the concerns of hygiene.
Hanuman Ghat is intricately associated with Hindu religious activities and contributes a great deal to the social culture of Varanasi. Celebrated Hindu saint Tulsi Das erected a Hanuman Temple on this ghat during the 16th century, and since then the ghat has been known as Hanuman Ghat. In ancient times, this ghat was known as Rameshwaram Ghat, mythologically believed to be established by Lord Rama.
Named after Lord Shiva, who is also known as 'Kedarnath', Kedar Ghat is situated in the southern part of Varanasi and was built by the Maharaja of Vijayanagar. Kedar Ghat is quite famous among Bengali and South Indians and houses a beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding guardian of the city of Varanasi. The temple is constructed in ancient Hindu architectural style. Near the Kedar Ghat, is situated the Parvati Kund, a pond believed to have medicinal properties.
The Kshemeshwara Ghat in Varanasi is also referred to as Someshwara Ghat. In ancient times, it was also known as Nala Ghat. A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, known as Kshemeshwar Mahadev is situated along the Kshemeshwara Ghat. As per Hindu texts, one of the 'Ganas' of Lord Shiva, named Kshemak, established a 'Shiva Lingam' at this spot and since the ghat was given the title of Kshemeshwara. The Kshemeshwar Lingam is in-housed in a house belonging to the Kumaraswamy sect of Kedar Ghat.
Darbhanga Ghat falls between two other famous Ghats of Varanasi, namely Chousatthi Ghat and Babua Pandey Ghat. The ghat is primarily the site of various religious Hindu rituals related to cremation. People from all across the country come here to perform the last rites of their deceased family members. A magnificent Shiva Temple exists along the Darbhanga Ghat, and the shrine of Kukuteshwara lies at the upper platform.
The Munshi Ghat is the site of the Darbhanga Palace which is a splendid structure known for its grand architecture. The Darbhanga Palace was built by the royal family of Bihar and was soon after extended by the finance minister of that time, Sridhara Narayana Munshi. The ghat retains most of the Darbhanga Palace, along with the remaining part which is now converted into a hotel. You can spend time strolling along this ghat as it is a less crowded one featuring a visual treat of architecture.
Man Mandir Ghat derives its name from the presence of the grand Man Mandir Palace, constructed by Maharaja Man Singh of Amer in 1600. The palace features a magnificent façade with exquisite ornate window carvings. King Sawai Jai Singh II installed an observatory on the roof of the palace in 1710. The observatory features large instruments made of stone, which were used to study the movement of sun, moon, stars and other astrological bodies in historical times.
Nepali Ghat is an area predominantly inhabited by the Nepalese. Also known as the 'Little Nepali Island', the ghat features a Nepali Temple, known as Kathwala Temple. Built in traditional Nepalese wooden architectural style, the temple was constructed by King of Nepal Rana Bahadur Shah in 1843. Workers were specially called from Nepal for the construction of this temple. An unusual characteristic of the Kathwala temple is that it bears a striking resemblance to the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The ghat is named after the revered local Goddess Lalita. Goddess Lalita is believed to be one of the incarnations of Goddess Durga. The entire ghat is made of red sandstone and is decked with numerous temples. The Ganga Keshav Lingam along with the shrines of Gangatitya, Kashi Devi, Lalita Devi and Bhagirath Tirtha are the major attractions of Lalita Ghat. Apart from holding profound religious significance, Lalita Ghat has also earned prominence in Varanasi tourism.
Named after Sankata Devi Temple, Sankata Ghat is a famous ghat in Varanasi, immensely frequented for religious activities, bathing and sacred rituals on the occasion of Yama Dvitiya. King of Baroda constructed the Sankata Ghat in the late 18th century and also erected the temple of the local deity Sankata Devi at the ghat. Even, at the ghat lie temples of Yameshwara and Harish chandreshwara.
Referred to as the Vedeshwara Ghat in Ghadavala inscription, the Raj Ghat is considered to be the oldest and the authentic (Adi) site of Lord Vishnu (Keshava). Located at the junction of Ganga and Varuna rivers, Adi Keshava Ghat holds immense religious and historical importance. Adi Keshav Vishnu Temple is the holy shrine that governs this site and attracts pilgrims in substantial numbers who wish to offer their prayers to Adi Keshav, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Apart from the above-mentioned ghats, there are many other holy ghats listed here that you can pay a visit.