River Ganges is the lifeline of Hinduism. River Ganges is considered a heavenly demi-God who was sent to earth by God for flourishing civilization. Varanasi is said to be pure because of its contact with River Ganges. To allow easy access to the river, the city has many Ghats, which are basically a series of steps, which lead to the water.
Each Ghat is said to be fulfilling a specific purpose. Most of the Ghats were built during or after 17th century and some of the Ghats are associated with mythologies.
1. Dasashwamedh Ghat
This is the main Ghat of the region. This Ghat is said to be made by Lord Brahma for sacrificing ten horses. This ritual was conducted to welcome Lord Shiva to Varanasi. Every evening, Ganga Arti ritual takes place in this Ghat. You can find a few monuments around the Ghat like Jantar Matar. Special rituals are conducted every Tuesday.
2. Assi Ghat
This Ghat region is filled with foreigners, students and tourists. Around 300 tourists and locals visit this Ghat, every day. This Ghat is the spot where Goddess Durga threw her blood-bathed sword after slaying Shumbha Nishumbha, a demon. The sword was said to fall into the ground with deforming force and it caused the formation of Assi River. The Ghat is located in the spot where River Ganges and River Assi join.
3. Manikarnika Ghat
It is said that Sati sacrificed her body to fire after her father humiliated her husband, Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva took her burning body and walked throughout the world. Parts of her body were said to have fallen at different places and a temple is erected at each destination. Manikarnika is the spot where her earring fell. It is one of the oldest Ghats of the city. Today, it is the main cremation ground. You can always spot a cremation ceremony here.
4. Manmandir Ghat
This 17th century Ghat is famous for Jantar Mantar, an observatory for astrology. You can find many interesting temples closer to the Ghat.
5. Harishchandra Ghat
There lived a king named Harishchandra, who refused to lie at any point of his life. Gods decided to test his promise of truth by putting him into a series of misfortune, while caused him to work in the cremation grounds, which is now called as Harishchandra Ghat. It is said that the soul, which is cremated in this Ghat would attain salvation.
6. Jain Ghat
This Ghat is dedicated to 7th Jain Tirthankara. It is said that he was born in this region. There is a 19th century temple dedicated to him.
7. Scindia Ghat
This Ghat has a submerging temple. A Shiva temple built closer to the river is submerging into the river. Today, you can visit the temple only via boat. It is one of the most influential temples of the region. According to mythology, the God of Fire, Agni was born here.
8. Shivala Ghat
This Ghat is famous for monastery, temples and many other structures. You can find music concerts and art celebrations here. However, it is losing its importance, as time passes by.
9. Mansarovar Ghat
There is a sacred lake in Tibet, Mansarovar Lake. In 16th century, King Man Singh built a pool named Mansarovar Kund. It is said that the spiritual level of this pool is similar to that of the Tibetan lake. Later, the pond started to reduce in size due to lack of space. Today, it is a small well, which is under the control of Kumara swamy Matt.
10. Chet Singh Ghat
This Ghat was the place of battle between Chet Singh and Warren Hastings of Britain. Chet Singh lost in the battle in 1781. Later in 19th century, Prabhu Narayan Singh retrieved the place back. There are three temples in this region and it is quite famous for the seven-day celebration of Budhwa Mangal festival.
11. Narada Ghat
This Ghatwas built in 18th century. It is said that if one baths in this Ghat along with spouse, there will be problems in the marriage in future. There are four important idols in this Ghat, which attract pilgrims.
12. Digpatia Ghat
Built by the ruler of Digapatiya, this region holds monuments of his reign. You can find his palace of Bengali style, a few temples and the residence of Madhusudan Sarasvati. You can find special rituals during March/April in the Yogini temple of the Ghat. Holi is celebrated in a grand manner here.
13. Darabhanga Ghat
This Ghat is famous for ancient buildings made with sandstones. Today, many palaces of this region are star hotels.
14. Pandey Ghat
This Ghat is famous for rituals of Prabhasa Turth. There is an old wrestling area near this Ghat. The best of all is the Someshvara temple and a few other religious spots.
15. Ganga Mahal Ghat
This Ghatwas first built as an extension to the famous Assi Ghat. Today, both the Ghats are separated by a series of stone steps. The Ghat gets its name from the Ganga Mahal on the Ghat. The mahal is now used as an educational institute. The first floor is dedicated to literacy program of Canada and the other floors are used for Indo-Swedish study center.
16. Ahilyabai Ghat
Built in 18th century, this Ghat gets its name from the builder, Queen Maharani Ahilyabai of Madhya Pradesh. This Ghat holds a palace and residential district of the Queen. There are a few temples around this region. This Ghat region was used in the past for wrestling.
17. Raja Ghat
This 18th century Ghat is now used as a refectory for Brahmins. You can find many cultural activities in the Ghat and in the three temples near the Ghat.
18. Vijayanagaram Ghat
This Ghat is named after an ancient famous and powerful city of southern India, Vijayanagaram. You can find many temples of deities local to Andhra Pradesh and surrounding regions. The best of all are the temples of Nishpapeshvara and Shiva.
19. Rajendraprasad Ghat
It used to be a part of Dashashwamedh Ghat and later, it was named after the first president of the country. Today, you can find a few temples and a cultural stage. In the past, it was a famous spot of rituals, boat ferry and horse market.
20. Tripura Bhairavi Ghat
This Ghat is famous among south Indian pilgrims. The Varahi temple of this Ghat is quite famous and sacred here.
In total, there are 88 different Ghats in this region. If possible, try to cover as much Ghats as possible. Learn anecdotes and mythological stories from locals to make your vacation more interesting and mystic.