Ghat of Varanasi
Varanasi is symbolized by its Ghats. There are as many as 81 Ghats in Varanasi for different purposes. Some of them are related to particular deity while others are simply to bathe. Some of the important Ghats of Varanasi include Assi, Dasaswamedh, Manikarnika, Tulsi and Panch Ganga among others. Tulsi Ghat is named after the famous 16th century poet Tulsi Das, who spent many years on this Ghat composing the Ram Charit Manas. A temple dedicated to Lord Ram stands on the Ghat. Another historically important Ghat is Panch-Ganga Ghat. Panch -Ganga Ghat as its name indicates, is where five rivers are supposed to meet. Dominating the Ghat is Aurangzeb' s smaller mosque popularly called Alamgir Mosque. Following are other important Ghats in Varanasi: -
Assi is a clay-banked Ghat that stands at the southernmost part of Varanasi where river Assi meets Ganges. This Ghat is the first when you start walking from South towards the Manikarnika. It is mandatory for the pilgrims to bathe at this Ghat before worshipping at a huge lingam under a Peepal tree. There is another Lingam that is worth visit. It is called Asisangameshvara or the "Lord of the Confluence of the Assi". This has been placed in a small marble temple just off the Assi Ghat.
Dasaswamedh Ghat falls second in line of the Panch-Tirtha Yatra. When you start moving from Assi towards North then falls past the plain, flat-roofed building that houses the shrine of Shitala. The name of Dasaswamedh Ghat indicates that Brahma sacrificed (medh) 10 horses here. Conveniently central, it's one of the most important and busiest ghats and therefore is a good place to linger and soak up the atmosphere. Dasaswamedh is an extremely popular pilgrimage.
Manikarnika Ghat has a great significance not only in Hindu mythology and way of life but also in the philosophies of life and death. Manikarnika is basically a cremation Ghat. It is interesting to know that cremation Ghats are usually placed outside the main town, as they are considered inauspicious. Nevertheless this doesn't stand true in the case of Varanasi where Manikarnika is situated quite in the middle of town itself. This is precisely because the entire city of Varanasi is considered a "Maha-Shmashan" or the Great Cremation Ground.
Get up early and try to be at the Ghats at daybreak. The sight of the sun rising over the Ganga is spiritually exhilarating. The Ghats are best approached by Dashashwamedha Ghat , where boats are available on hire. Enjoy a boat cruise on the holy waters of Ganga to reach the nearby Manikarnika Ghat, one of Varanasi's two burning ghats (Harishchandra Ghat is the other one). It's permanently lined with funeral pyres and bodies in shrouds awaiting the final rites. Here the sacred waters is decorated with marigold flowers and ashes of sacred hearts. If you haven't had your fill of ghats, don't worry there are about a hundred ghats to choose from.
Hire a boat and start to Asi Ghat, where you can see the confluence of Asi and Ganga rivers. Close by is one of Varanasi's oldest ghats, named after Sant Tulsidas, composer of the great Indian epic, Ramcharitmanas and near the great sage's home. Puranic tales describe that the Apsaras, Gandharvas and Kinnars lived here, and musical shows were held for the Gods. It is also believed that the Ramlila (story of Lord Rama's life) was staged here for the first time. Cruise ahead to reach the Man Mandir Ghat, built by Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur. You can check out one of his four Jantar Mantars and the massive sun dial, that might tell you your auspicious time.
In the evening, absolutely don't miss the grand 'aarti' at Dasaashwamedh Ghat, conducted every sunset by five white-robed priests. These five young men sway in seemingly choreographed movements, worshiping the river goddess with incense, camphor, flowers and earthen lamps. Thousands of illuminated lamps are immersed in the waters of the holy Ganges and the floating lamps add a divine look to the river at dusk. Sit with some 'sadhu' and enjoy knowing their lifestyle from close proximity. You might even run into some one who is more than 100 years old! The Ghats also provide a good option for photography with serene temples and their bustling courtyards creating a perfect