Varanasi Ghats: A Complete Guide to How Many There Are and What They Represent
Varanasi, also known as Kashi, is a city of ancient traditions and spiritual practices. One of the most prominent features of this city is its ghats, which are a series of riverfront steps that lead down to the sacred River Ganges. In this article, we will explore how many ghats are there in Varanasi and what they represent.
The Significance of Varanasi’s Ghats
The ghats of Varanasi have played a significant role in the city’s cultural and spiritual heritage. They are used for a variety of activities, including bathing, cremation, religious ceremonies, and social gatherings. It is believed that taking a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges at the ghats can purify the soul and wash away sins.
Each ghat has its own unique history and significance, and many of them are associated with mythological stories and religious beliefs. They are also popular tourist attractions and draw visitors from all over the world.
How Many Ghats are There in Varanasi?
There is a total of 84 ghats in Varanasi, each with its own distinctive character and purpose.
Some of the most popular ghats include the Dashashwamedh Ghat, the Assi Ghat, and the Manikarnika Ghat.
The Dashashwamedh Ghat is the most popular and busiest ghat in Varanasi. It is believed to have been created by Lord Brahma himself and is associated with the ten-horse sacrifice ritual (dashashwamedh yajna) that was performed by Lord Brahma. The ghat is a hub of activity and is used for various religious ceremonies, including the Ganga aarti, which is a daily prayer ritual that takes place at sunset.
The Assi Ghat is another popular ghat that is known for its scenic beauty and cultural significance. It is believed to have been created by the River Assi, which flows into the Ganges at this spot. The ghat is associated with the Hindu god Shiva and is home to several ancient temples and shrines.
The Manikarnika Ghat is the oldest and most sacred ghat in Varanasi. It is believed to be the spot where Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati took a bath and is considered to be a gateway to the afterlife. The ghat is primarily used for cremation ceremonies and is a solemn and spiritual place.
Exploring the Different Types of Ghats in Varanasi
While all ghats in Varanasi share a common purpose, they can be broadly categorized into three different types: bathing ghats, burning ghats, and other ghats.
Bathing ghats are used for ritual bathing and are the most popular type of ghat in Varanasi. They are used by devotees to take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges and seek spiritual purification.
Burning ghats are used for cremation ceremonies and are considered to be a gateway to the afterlife. They are solemn and spiritual places and are not frequented by tourists.
Other ghats include fishing ghats, boat ghats, and dock ghats. These ghats are used for commercial purposes and are not associated with religious or spiritual activities.
Tips for Exploring Varanasi’s Ghats
If you plan to visit Varanasi and explore its ghats, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Respect the religious and cultural significance of the ghats and avoid disruptive behaviour Dress modestly and avoid wearing revealing clothing
- Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye on your belongings
- Hire a guide or take a guided tour to learn more about the history and significance of each ghat
- Take a boat ride along the river to get a panoramic view of the ghats from the water
- If you’re visiting during a festival or special occasion, be prepared for large crowds and heavy traffic.
In conclusion, Varanasi’s ghats are an integral part of the city’s cultural and spiritual heritage. They offer a glimpse into India’s rich history and traditions and attract visitors from all over the world.
By exploring the many facets of Varanasi’s ghats, you can gain a deeper understanding of the city’s unique character and significance.