Harischandra Ghat, © Can Stock / johnnydevil
Visit Varanasi – Ghats
Those who visit Varanasi can see at least 84 ghats along the Ganges River. The ghats each have steps down to the Ganges River. Ghats are used by Hindus for ceremonies, bathing, washing and cremations. If a person dies in this section of the Ganges, they are said to reach eternity immediately instead of being reincarnated. Hindus honor the river at sunrise or sunset by bathing in it. Tourists often watch the sunrise from boats on the Ganges and then see the crowds of Hindus bathing and washing clothes.
Ganges River Ghat
Hindus worship by bathing, pouring river water over their head and hands, floating flowers or lit candles on the river, chanting and doing yoga. Some will offer river water to the rising sun and Lord Shiva. After sunrise a steady stream of cremations take place at the many ghats along the Ganges. Tourists should be very respectful. There’s no need to take photos of cremations.
Dashashwamedh Ghat, Ganges River
Visit Varanasi – Dashashwamedh Ghat
The Dashashwamedh Ghat is likely the most popular ghat in Varanasi. Each night there is a Puja Worship Ceremony at the Dashashwamedh Ghat. At the Puja Ceremony, Brahmins honor Lord Shiva and the River with Aarti candle ceremonies call. They sound conch shells, burn incense and ring bells. Flowers and candles may be floated down the river. Each night, many people watch from boats packed closely together along the shore.
Other ghats along the Ganges here include Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Tulsi Ghat, Kedar Ghat and Assi Ghat. Some ghats are mainly for cremations while others are for bathing and washing.
Boat on Ganges River Ghat
Visit Varanasi – Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The best known of the many temples in Varanasi dedicated to Lord Shiva is Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is close to the Dashashwamedh Ghat. This temple is closed to non-Hindus. The original temple was destroyed and the Gaynvapi Mosque was built over top of it. A new Kashi Vishwanath temple was built beside the Gaynvapi Mosque after Turkish Muslim rule ended.
Ganges River Worshippers
Visit Varanasi – Jantar Mantar Observatory
When you visit the ghats on the Ganges and the Kash Vishwanath Temple, don’t miss the Jantar Mantar Observatory. The Jantar Mantar Observatory dates back to 1737. The observatory structure is similar to ones in Delhi, Ujjain, Mathura, and Jaipur. The Jantar Mantar Observatory is right next to the Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Visit Varanasi – Ramnagar Fort
Ramnagar Fort is on the eastern bank Ganges River opposite the Tulsi Ghat. Kashi Naresh Raja Balwant Singhhas had the Ramnagar Fort constructed in the 18th century. The Ramnagar Fort is the home of the Maharaja of Varanasi (Kashi Naresh). You will find the Saraswati Museum here.
Ramnagar Fort, © Can Stock / berliner
Visit Varanasi – More Temples
- Bharat Mata Temple – dedicated to Mother India and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi.
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple – honoring the Hindu god Hanuman.
- Durga Kund Temple or the Monkey Temple – dedicated to the goddess Durga. The Tulsi Manas Temple, dedicated to Lord Rama, is beside the Durga Kund Temple.
- Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple) – built of wood by the King of Nepal on Lalita Ghat.
Assi Ghat, © Can Stock / neelsky
Visit Varanasi – More Sights
- Explore the narrow alley ways of the old city back from the river. Squeeze past cows. Find street food and small shops.
- Take a bicycle rickshaw ride through the wider streets.
- Banaras Hindu University – The University includes the Museum of Art and Archeology.
- Alamagir Mosque – Hindu and Mughal style, overlooking the Panchganga Ghat.
Cow Wandering through Offering
Ramlila of Ramnagar
The Ramlila of Ramnagar is 30 days of plays re-enacting scenes from the Ramayana. Every autumn the Ramnagar Fort hosts the Ramlila of Ramnagar. The Maharaja of Varanasi watches on an elephant.
Visit Varanasi – Hotels
- Taj Ganges – 4 km from Dashashwamedh Ghat.
- Nadesar Palace – 4 km from Dashashwamedh Ghat.
- Shri Guest House – low cost accommodation with views directly down upon Dashashwamedh Ghat and its ceremonies.