GANGA AND GHATS IN VARANASI :- Place of Purification of Sins and Salvation

February 11, 2012 By:

Ganga River and Varanasi :- Combination of Shiva and Shakti

10th , 11th and 14th March 2011 , 3 days we were in Kashi and many times again and again we went to banks of Ganga for having her mighty darshan. I will try to put some info on this mighty river and its ghats.

Varanasi mornings near Ganges are best and most beautiful I have seen

Morning in Varanasi from Raj Ghat

About Ganga :- According to most legends Ganga is holiest river . Taking dip in Ganga bestows purification from all sins accumulated from previous birth and hence we get salvation here. According to Devi Mahabhagwat , Ganga was elder daughter of Menaka and Himalaya , elder sister of  Parvati and incarnation of Supreme Goddess Bhagwati Adishakti Durga.After her birth and she was taken by Brahma to Brahmaloka in his kamandalu. Then he washes Lord Vishnu ‘s feet with Ganga water. Hence from Brahmaloka she comes to Vaikuntha.

Then Bhagiratha one of the forefathers of Lord Rama brought her to earth for attaining salvation of his 60000 ancestors after tremendous penance to Lord Shiva. Thus she came to this earth. Her falling force was so enormous that Lord Shiva has to hold her in his matted hair and release some of it to form river Ganga. Some accounts say that she was married to Lord Shiva in heaven.

Thus this great river is associated with all the three trinities Brahma ,Vishnu and Mahesh.

One more pic of beautiful morning with boat

Varanasi from boat near Dasawamedh Ghat

On Ghats of Varanasi

Ganga likes Varanasi a lot. No time during her course to the sea she flows back to her origin, but in Varanasi she flows back because of her extreme attachment to this holy place.

Ghats of Varanasi :- In Varanasi, one side of her bank is made up of Ghats.

Ghat is  series of steps leading down to a water body, usually a holy river, lake or pond.

Varanasi has nearly 84 ghats, steps leading down to Ganga .Most of the ghats were built when the city was under Maratha control. Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas) stand out as patrons of present day Kashi. Most of the ghats are bathing ghats, while two are used as cremation sites. Most of the ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while some ghats are privately owned. The former Kashi King owns Shivala or Kali ghat. Boat ride,specially in morning, on the Ganges across the ghats is very famous and popular visitors attraction.

I will try to describe a few and its legends.

On the ghats of Varanasi

On ghats of Varanasi

Assi Ghat

It is situated at the confluence of Ganga and Assi rivers. Assi Ghat is the southernmost Ghat in Varanasi. Here pilgrims bathe before paying their homage to Lord Shiva in the form of huge lingam situated under a peepal tree. Assi Ghat also constitutes the southern end of conventional Varanasi City. Another lingam worshipped here is the Assi Sangameshwar lingam representing the lord of confluence of the Assi, enshrined in a small marble temple near the Assi Ghat. The famous Indian poet saint, Tulsi Das had written the much-celebrated Ramcharitmanas here.

Assi ghat

There are numerous references of Assi Ghat in early literature of the Hindus. We find the mention of Assi Ghat in lot of Hindu Scriptures like Matsya purana, Agni purana, Kurma purana, Padma purana and Kashi khanda. According to legends, Goddess Durga had thrown her sword after slaying the demons Shumbha- Nishumbha. The place where the sword had fallen resulted in a big stream known as Assi River. In Kashi Khand , Assi Ghat is referred as “Saimbeda Tirtha” and according to it one gets punya of all the Tirthas by taking a dip here. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims take holy dip here in the months of Chaitya (March/ April) and Magh (Jan/Feb) and other important occasions like Grahan,  Dussehra,  Probodhoni Ekadashi,  Makar Shankranti etc.

Beware of Touts and be careful here

Assi Ghat


Harish Chandra Ghat

Harishchandra Ghat is one of the oldest and important Ghats of Varanasi. Harishchandra Ghat is name after a mythological King Harishchandra( forefather of Lord Rama) who worked at the cremation ground here for the perseverance of truth and charity. Then The Gods rewarded him for his resolve, charity and truthfulness and restored his lost throne, wealth, fame and his dead son to him. Harish Chandra Ghat is one of the two cremation Ghats (the otherone being Manikarnika Ghat).  Hindus from distant places bring the dead bodies of their near and dear ones to the Harishchandra Ghat for cremation. In Hindu mythology it is believed that if a person is cremated at the Harishchandra Ghat, that person gets salvation or moksha.

Dasaswamedh Ghat Varanasi

Aarti of Ganga Maiya in the evening – Dasaswamedh Ghat

Aarti

Dasawamedh ghat

Dasaswamedh Ghat

Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the most important and most visited Ghats of Varanasi. Dasaswamedh Ghat literally means the Ghat  of ten sacrificed horses. According to legends, ten horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma to allow Lord Shiva to return from a period of banishment at this place and hence the name.

Dasaswamedh Ghat provides a very beautiful and colorful riverfront view. A large number of Sadhus are seen everyday performing religious rites on this Ghat. Nobody visiting Varanasi must not miss the opportunity of visiting the Dasaswamedh Ghat.  In the evening after Ganga Aarti, thousands of earthen lamps are immersed in the waters of the holy Ganges and the floating lamps give a divine look to the river at dusk.

Beware of Touts,Thieves and be careful here. Keep your eyes ,ears and mind open here otherwise………………

Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat is the most important and main cremation Ghat of Varanasi. Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest and most sacred Ghats in Kashi. According to the Hindu mythology, being burnt here provides an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths. It lies at the center of the five main tirthas. Manikarnika Ghat symbolizes both creation and destruction. At Manikarnika Ghat the mortal remains are consigned to flames with the prayers that the souls rest in eternal peace. There is a sacred well at the Manikarnika Ghat, called the Manikarnika Kund. Manikarnika Kund is said to be dug by Lord Vishnu at the time of creation while the hot ashes of the burnt bodies makes one remember the inevitable destruction of everything in the world. It is here that Lord Shiva utters tarak mantra on the ear of the dead so that he immediately attains salvation.

Beware of Touts. Be careful here.

Manikarnika ghat

Cremation at the Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi

Sadhu and pollution at Manikarnika Ghat

Tulsi Ghat

Tulsi Ghat is one more important ghat of Varanasi. Tulsi Ghat is named after the great Hindu poet,saint and devotee of the 16th century, Tulsidas Goswami. Tulsi Das composed the great Indian epic Ramcharitmanas at Varanasi. When Tulsi’s manuscript fell into the River Ganga it did not sink and kept floating instead here in Ganga. It is also believed that the Ramlila (story of Lord Rama’s life) was staged here for the first time. A temple of Lord Ram was built on the Tulsi Ghat. Many of the relics of Tulsi Das are preserved at the Tulsi Ghat. The house in which Tulsidas died has been preserved and his Samadhi , wooden clogs, pillow and the idol of Hanuman, which Tulsi worshipped, are all still intact and preserved here.

Tulsi Ghat

Scindia Ghat

Scindia Ghat  borders Manikarnika to the north, with its Shiva temple lying partially submerged in the river as a result of excessive weight of the ghat’s construction about 150 years ago. Above the ghat  several of Kashi’s most influential shrines are located. According to tradition, Agni, the Hindu God of Fire was born here.

Scindia ghat

ManMandir Ghat:

Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur built this Ghat in 1770, as well as the Yantra Mantra equipped with ornate window casings along with those at Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, and Mathura. Devotees visit here to the lingam of Someshwar, the Lord of the Moon .This is next to Dasaswamedh Ghat.

 

ManMandir ghat

Lalita Ghat

The King of Nepal built this Ghat in the northern region of Varanasi. It is the site of the Ganges Keshav Temple, a wooden temple built in typical Nepali Kathmandu style .The temple has an image of Pashupatinath, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. It is a favorite site of painters and photographers.This place is not to be missed.

.Lalita ghat Varanasi

Kedar Ghat

At Kedar Ghat there is a Kunda called Gauri Kund, which is named after Lord Shiva’s wife, which is said to have healing properties. At this ghat is the Kedareswara Shiva Temple. The person who visits this temple gets fruits of visiting Kedarnath Temple.

Kedareshwar mandir on Kedar ghat

Kedareshwar Temple on Kedar ghatGauri kunda in Kedar ghat

Gauri kunda in Kedar ghat

Raj Ghat

The important Raj Ghat (also called Adi Keshava Ghat) is the northern most ghat. Located here is the Adi Keshava Vishnu Temple, which is located where the Varuna River flows into the Ganges. Lord Vishnu is said to have first put his feet here when he came to Varanasi.

Raj ghat

Other Pictures of Ganga

Chetsingh Ghat

Ahilya Ghat

on the banks

On the Ghats – enjoying

In the morning

 

Next thing which I wanted to mention was something related to pollution of this great river, which made me sad.

Pollution in Ganga in Varanasi :- As Ganga river is known for its spiritual and mythological significance ,she is also known for undesirable reasons such as pollution. Ganga has the tag of “Most Polluted River in the World ” .

Pollution

According to information in internet, more than 20,00,000 people bath in Ganga everyday. 400 million who live on the banks of Ganga suffer because of pollution. Sewage from many cities along the river’s course, industrialand chemical  waste and religious offerings wrapped in non-degradable plastics add large amounts of pollutants to the river as it flows through densely populated areas.

Pollution

Varanasi alone releases around 200 million litres of untreated human sewage into the river each day, leading to large concentrations of faecal coliform bacteria. According to official standards, water safe for bathing should not contain more than 500 faecal coliforms per 100ml, yet upstream of Varanasi’s ghats the river water already contains 120 times as much as 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 ml.

After the cremation of the deceased at Varanasi’s ghats the bones and ashes are thrown into the Ganges. Even today, holy men, pregnant women, people with leprosy/chicken pox, people who had been bitten by snakes, people who had committed suicide, the poor, and children under 5 are not cremated at the ghats but are floated free to decompose in the waters in Ganga. In addition, those who cannot afford the large amount of wood needed to cremate the entire body leave behind a lot of half burned body parts.

Sewage in Ganges

Washing clothes in ganges

And after receiving 32 streams of raw sewage from the city of Varanasi the concentration of faecal coliforms in the river rises from 60,000 to 1.5 million on an average with peak value of 100 million per 100 ml of water. DISGUSTING.

As a great devotee when I came to know about this information, I thought that anyhow I will bath in Ganga. But believe me when I saw the sight I folded hands to Ganga Maiyaa and said Sorry deep from my heart and I cannot bath. Just sprinkled water on my head and moved on……………………………

Its time to say bye for now . Will come with Kashi temples in next…………………………..

 

 

About Vishal Rathod

Vishal Rathod has written 70 posts at Ghumakkar.

I am Vishal Rathod from Mumbai.I am a devotee, that is why I am a Ghumakkar. An Engineer, MBA by education, Sales Professional by profession and a small devotee by heart.I like to travel religious places. From past 3 years I have started travelling every three to four months.I am tired of excess materialism and have shifted my focus on spiritualism. My goal as a ghumakkar in life is to visit as many religious places as possible and do bhakti.The only reason to write in ghumakkar.com is to benefit fellow devotees to perform their pilgrimage smoother and easier.God bless all of you. aum namah shivaya . hare krishna hare ram.

38 Responses to “GANGA AND GHATS IN VARANASI :- Place of Purification of Sins and Salvation”


  1. Silentsoul says:

    Very good explanations and very informative post with equally good pictures. I was very sad to see the pollution and trash in holy places… when will we hindus learn to respect our own culture and our own pilgrimage places… looks like centuries of slavery has polluted our minds too !

    Thanks for sharing. I would ever be able to visit this dirty Holy place, I dont know but through your post, I took a virtual tour.

    जै भोलेनाथ

    • Mahesh Semwal says:

      aap ne tho ghat ghat ka pani pi liya….:-)

      Jokes apart, its was very informative post. I 100% agreed with SS , when we (hindu) will learn to keep our religious places neat & clean, breaking queues in all temples are common things.

      All pictures are awesome but the first one is breathtaking.

    • Thanks SS,

      And Dear SS, this is the holiest place even among seven saptapuri’s ( other six beingMathura,Ayodhya, Kanchipuram,Dwarka,Ujjain and Haridwar).

      I am not comparing , but if you see Golden Temple or see pics of Mecca or Vatican you will feel the difference as far as cleanliness is concerned.

      This is our prime holy destination and we are keeping it this way…………..

      Not to forget , crores of rupees are spent on purification of this mighty river…………….

      India has applied Rs. 7000 crore loan from World bank……………………

      But i think nothing will happen ………………….Politi_ _ _ _s ?????????????????

      • Silentsoul says:

        That z why I raised this point of trash in my post Khatti Mithi (1) that we all ghumakkars must take a vow not to throw trash and dont let our friends do it.

        This may not remove the trash, or may clean 0.0001 %.. but still something positive and constructive is better than nothing. At least we will be satisfied that We are not responsible for this trash.

        हज़ारों करोड़ रुपया जो जमुना-गंगा की सफाई के लिये आया.. सब जानते हैं कहां गया.

        Last year, Sri Sri Ravishankar ji had this lead in cleaning trash from Yamuna in Delhi. 1000s of people went with him. I also went. tons of trash was removed from Yamuna and as far as I remember some 100 plus truck-loads of trash was collected and taken away from Yamuna.

        Yamuna in Delhi is so polluted that when we crossed it, on scooters through Pontoon bridges, we had to stop our breath for some moments to avoid the stench….and in this same Yamuna we used to take bath on Baisakhi days… during 70s… was not that bad then.

        Any way out ? i dont see it in near future… i am being too pessimistic but sadly that is the truth.

        • Dear SS,

          At least i vow that i will not throw trash apart from dustbin, and not let my family throw trash………………………

          • Amit says:

            We here Delhi people are responsible for that as we know all sewage,dunk,waste that we use in Delhi for comfort goes to Yamuna ,We need here complete different sewage system as the government here and people here are full of hippocracy ,They never done strike for that to make complete different sewage plan for our holy river but we do here strike daily for ..they also don’t know ..Every delhi people are responsible indirectly as sewage comes from every house and goes directly to Yamuna.

  2. Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Vishal,
    Really touching post. Interesting & Informative narration and nice pictures. The pictures of pollution in Ganges showing the another aspect of this holy (Dirty) city were disturbing. Pictures of Ganga aarti were fabulous.

    Thanks.

    • thanks Mukesh,

      you feel disturbed looking at pics ????????????????????

      What will happen when you see .

      As a devotee , i had feeling of Mother Goddess treated this way…………………

      Feel like crying right away………..

  3. Sanskriti Bhalse says:

    Vishal uncle,
    Very nice post and specially the pic of evening aarti of ganga maiyya is very good…………………………

  4. Kavita Bhalse says:

    विशाल जी,
    पोस्ट बड़ी ही ख़ूबसूरत लगी, विशेषकर गंगा आरती के फोटोस सबसे ज्यादा लुभावने लगे, पंडितों की एक जैसी वेश भूषा, विशाल आकार के दीप, भक्तों का जमावड़ा सबकुछ एक स्वप्न सा लग रहा है, क्या सचमुच ऐसे ही होती है यह आरती? जब जायेंगे तो जरूर आरती में शामिल होंगे.
    धन्यवाद.

  5. Yes everyday the aarti is like this only at 7.00 pm at dasaswamedh ghat……………………

  6. गंगा को गंदा नाला बना कर छोडेंगे। यमुना को तो बना ही चुके है।

  7. Neeraj Jat says:

    भई कुछ भी हो, फोटो गजब के हैं।

  8. yogesh says:

    very well posted,
    tha last few pics (showing the polluted and trashy images) should be the eye opener for us.
    our holy pilgrimaged places are now infected with these pollution and it is increasing with high rate.

    Varanasi is counted in indias oldest holy city and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

    Varanasi refers as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on planet earth (source wikipedia).

    but despite of this we indians do not respect and any care of this city. it is counted one of the most polluted city in india.

    we dont know about any other but we guys referred as ghumakkars will take care and try our level best for not involving in littering our holy places.

    yogesh

  9. ritesh says:

    Vishal ji…

    very nice post..some picture are very excellant and good..

    Ganga Ghat par Gandagi dekhkar badi takleef hui….

    Ritesh

  10. ritesh says:

    vihsal ji

    hamne haridwar me bhi ganga ki aeshi hi aarti hoti dekhi hain……gajab ka sama ho jata hain Arti ke samay…har koi bhakti bhavan me leen ho jata hain…

    aarti ke sundar drashay ke liye dhanyavaad

    Ritesh

  11. Haan

    Mujhe bhi Haridwar Jaana hai maiya ke paas……………

  12. Nandan says:

    Very detailed post Vishal. Great effort in compiling all the relevant data and the pictures.

    There are places where one can have a bath in clean Ganga :-). For example, if one is going to Haridwar, then it is better to go a little further up (Rishkesh) and take a dip there.

    Look fwd to your next post on Kashi Temples.

    • Dear Nandan Thanks for your comments,

      In Rishikesh and Haridwar, there is lot of flow in Ganga so fresh water always comes from behind… But in Kashi Ganges water is standstill.So drainage and sewage water satys there……………

  13. sanjay says:

    Thanks you Vishal Ji,
    You being the extreme devotee and your pics illustrates this fact. These snapshots reveals the majestic treasure of Kashi like various ghats, temples and Aarti Darshan.
    Kashi is said to be the “AnandVan” and “AviMukta Kshetra” – A Place where Lord Shiva with his concert “Parvati ” Maa lives in pleased mood. So leaving here a person gets advantage of their pleasant mood and can beg anything from them. The Persons leaving here liberates from Janman and Mrituya bandhan without doing any special karmic things.

    But Unfortunately, the human being “we” are responsible for polluting the Maa Ganga. So at least I vow to not throw any trash into Holy River Ganga.

  14. Thank Sanjay jee for your comments

    But I don’t think so that only dying in Kashi liberates the from the bondage of janam and mrityu…….

    Some essential Karma is needed…………….

  15. sanjay says:

    i m too surprised reading this. that’s what is written in Shiv Puran and I heard this from many Saints. That’s why the luckiest person take birth there. Yogis depart to Kashi at the last inning of their Age.
    You may think of why the dead bodies are cremated there. When these dead bodies have never born there .

  16. Dear Sanjay……………..

    I think only extreme purified souls get liberated. A proper yogi whether he is following Gyana , Karma or Bhakti yoga only gets liberated. And he gets liberated anywhere any place, any time ( Bhagvad Gita)……..

    As far as Kashi is concerned , yaa its the holiest place but , i feel only extreme purified souls get liberated here. Doing lot of PAAP and dying in Kashi does not liberate a wretched soul……………

  17. D.L.Narayan says:

    Thanks for refreshing memories of Kashi. I am still waiting to read about your unpleasant experience there, since it will be useful for others who are planning to visit the holy city.

    I believe that photography is not allowed at the Manikarnika Ghat. I wonder how you managed to get those pics of the burning pyres.

    • Thanks DL ………………………

      It was a very unpleasant experience DL , especially with people of Varanasi………………..

      I am not writing it down much as people will have negative effect on that city which I don,t want.I was tried to be cheated and looted everywhere. And Believe it was only Lord who saved me everywhere……………………

      At one point in the crowded lane on Monday at Kashi, a group had planned to snatch my wife’s bag when we were going to Dasaswamedh ghat. But Lord gave intusion to Father in law ( they were continously following and where we stopped they stopped ) we got to know about their plan…………….

      Thanks to Mahadeo…………………..

  18. sanjay says:

    That’s why the question raised, why people take dead bodies “no matter they have done pap or punya” only to Kashi and get burnt there.

  19. Dear Sanjay ,

    I also have heard and read about Kashi’s importance in lot of Scriptures and also heard in lot of Kathas………………….

    But i dont deny the fact that the person who dies in Kashi attains salvation , but still i feel that in this yuga at least yogic karma is required for salvation ( that is my belief).

    You can’t get away to Vaikuntha Or Mount Kailash if you loot and kill people and do paap all the life and die in Kashi . ( Strictly that is my belief as far as my journey to spiritualism is concerned )………

  20. Bapu Nagar says:

    Vishalji,
    Awesome blog! Aum Namah Shivay! I’ll be in Varanasi from 1pm – 9am on (9/9-9/10). Will I be able to visit all the ghats you mentioned in your blog? If not, please let me know which are main ghats and not to be missed. Also, in your blog, you mentioned that you would write about Lord Kashi Vishwanath Temple…but did not find the write up. Just like you and Mukeshji, I’ve also decided to visit all 12 Jyotirlingas and that too on Mondays(Shiva’s day) only. So far I’ve been blessed with 9/12 and Kashi is going to be my 10th. If you can, please let me know details about Abhishek Pooja at Kashi Vishwanath Temple(or point me to your blog) and any other tips you may have. I’m planning to do Abhishek Pooja on Monday, 9/10 and have the time from early morning til 9am when I leave for airport to catch a flight to Delhi.

  21. Bapu Nagar says:

    Thanks a lot Vishalji. Indeed…this and many other posts by you and other ghummakar’s has helped. Mukeshji’s post on SriSailam helped me plan my visit in June 2012. I wish I can write like you guys – from heart and as it is. It’s nice of you to give out your contact info. I do have some questions and will reach out to you once I’m back from my current Ghummakari of The Bahamas via Cruise while ‘ISSAC’ is trying its level best to ruin it…:).

  22. KG says:

    Thanks Vishal for very informative post on Kashi and Ghats. How did you visit all the ghats? by foot or by rickshaw or boat?

    Will the boat stop at all ghats allowing you to visit temple, etc? . What would be the cost of boat ride for 2 hrs?

    • Dear KG,

      Thanks for appreciation

      The duty of people rowing boats is to make you visit all the ghats , temples and tell the stories and legends. For that reason only they are doing this business. That you have to tell him before only that what all things you have visit. For complete visit of all the ghats ask him to start from Assi ghat and end at Raj Ghat.
      Cost of the boat ride totally depends on your negotiation and quality of boats whether they are manual or engine operated.
      But don’t give more than rs. 300 for complete ride. There is loot there but similarly there is competition also.
      Be very careful with your belongings there. Lot of touts are present.

      Have Happy Journey to Kashi.

      Jay Baba Vishwanath.



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