Assi Ghat

One of the biggest ghats that is also furthest south to the main ghats, Assi draws devotees in droves. This place is particularly important as it is here that River Ganga meets the Assi river. Visitors come here to worship a lingam of Lord Shiva, kept beneath a peepal tree. The evening arti (a holy fire ritual) held here is a spectacular sight when mantras are chanted, conches are blown and even the air feels heavy with a spiritual fervour. This ghat is also a starting point for boating rides and one can come here to enjoy early-morning yoga sessions and devotional music. 

Legend has it that Goddess Durga, after killing demons Shumbha-Nishumbha, threw her sword in a river (called Assi). That is why this ghat has been named so. While the evening arti invites visitors regularly, the ghat is especially crowded during the months of chaitya (March/ April) and magh (January/ February). Other significant events like lunar/solar eclipse, Makar Sakranti and Probodhoni Ekadashi also see swarming crowds.

Assi Ghat

Dashashwamedh Ghats

One of the oldest and the most sacred ghats in the holy city of Varanasi is Dashashwamedh. This place is most famous for its Ganga arti ( a holy fire ritual), which is an elaborate and lively ceremony that takes place at dusk everyday. Amid blowing of conch shells, ringing of  bells, clanging of brass cymbals and chanting chorus of mantras, priests venerate the Ganga, the lifeline of Varanasi, with brass lamps that rise several tiers. The priests performing the arti are all draped in similar clothing-- a kurta and dhoti. The preparations for the arti include collecting five elevated planks, an idol of Goddess Ganga, flowers and incense sticks. Rituals of the arti are performed by those learned in the Vedas and Upanishads and are led by the head priest of the Gangotri Seva Samiti. The arti lasts about 45 minutes. Devotees float smaller diyas on leaf platters in the river as an obeisance to the holy Ganga. As the sunlight recedes, the innumerable lamps flowing in the water make for an unforgettable sight. The hour-long ritual can be watched from the ghat or boats moored at the river bank.

The name 'Dashashwamedh' means the place where Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses. It is also said that Bajirao Peshwa I had the ghat reconstructed in 1740 AD. It was later constructed over by the queen of Indore, Ahilyabai Holkar, in 1774. This ghat lies very close to the famous Vishwanath Mandir.

Dashashwamedh Ghats

Harish Chandra Ghat

Harish Chandra ghat is one of the two cremation ghats and is also known as Adi Manikarnika, which means the original creation ground. It is much smaller than Manikarnika that is a more significant ghat for cremation. However, Hindus come from distant places to this ghat to have their dead cremated here as many believe that they would get moksha (salvation). This is one of the oldest ghats in the holy city of Varanasi and has been named after mythological king Harish Chandra. It is said that the king once worked on this ghat for the perseverance of truth and charity. The gods impressed with his endeavours rewarded him and restored his lost kingdom and dead son to him. The ghat was modernised in 1980s when an electric crematorium was established here.

Harish Chandra Ghat