Ghats of Varanasi

A few months back, we had been to Varanasi. After a customary visit to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the other well known temples we went for a boat ride on the Ganga which took us through the ghats of Varanasi. The boat ride is an experience you can never forget in this lifetime, not because of any scenic views, but because it brings you closer to life and death, here you see them exist together. Most of the ghats are bathing ghats  and are teeming with spiritual activities, people bathing, offering prayers and offerings while a couple of them are cremation sites. We boarded the boat from Dashashwamedha ghat which took us around the ghats till the famous Harishchandra Ghat (a cremation ghat) and back. The boatman was a chatty fellow who gave us lot of information about the history of these ghats. Most of them were built by rulers of different states at some point of time. Today as you pass by them in a boat you cannot help wondering what events these ghats have been witness  to standing here for years, watching the river flow by in one of the worlds oldest inhabited city.

Leaving you with some pictures.

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18 thoughts on “Ghats of Varanasi

  1. The umbrella kind of structures makes a pretty picture. I have seen some ghats in Haridwar, but honestly, the Varanasi ones look better 😛

    Wondering how did they name the ghats 🙂

    • The umbrella kind of structures were in preparation for the Ganga Arti. I loved that arrangement too 🙂
      The boatman told us that there are 84 ghats in Varanasi and gave us some history about their names too… mostly related with who inhabited and owned them 🙂 They do have some interesting names 🙂

  2. For a very long time i have been wanting to visit Varanasi some day….so far I have not been able to do so. Now after your post i am more curious to pay the visit.
    How life and death go hand in hand…is something we can realise in some such place only.

    • Oh you must visit Varanasi some day and a boat ride on the Ganga is a must thing to do there. It is an experience that brings you closer to the truth of life when you see life and death side by side. And yes, this experience is unique to Varanasi. I don’t think you can experience it anywhere else.

  3. Today as you pass by them in a boat you cannot help wondering what events these ghats have been witness to standing here for years, watching the river flow by in one of the worlds oldest inhabited city. – I so understand what you mean Lifesong ! 🙂
    Beautiful pictures – never been there – really happy to see the lovely pics 🙂 Did Cheebu like the trip?

    • I am so glad that I could convey my feelings about this to you Kismi 🙂
      Thank you 🙂 Cheebu is like me. She loves travelling 🙂 She enjoyed a lot 🙂

  4. I have never been to Varanasi or Haridwar but the pics tell me it is a beautiful and tranquil place to be in. I loved how you have explained it and that deep strong thoughts resonate well.

    • Varanasi like any other holy city in India is also quite dirty, but still highly recommended for visiting at least once in your life. For me, the feelings that I experienced specially during the boat ride are unique to the city 🙂

  5. I have never visited Varanasi or Haridwar.. but I am in love with the architecture of the place from your pics LS.. Those buildings looks beautiful. I am also sure you would had a chance to see all the debris on the river shores right? I am always disappointed to see how these last rites spoil the beauty of a river.. I have seen that happening to Krishna river in my home town.

    And did you take Cheebu also with you? Did she like the trip?

    • Yes it is beautiful, but as I said to Jas also a very dirty city. We Indians really treat our rivers very badly. It breaks my heart when I see people throwing all their garbage into the rivers. Most people dispose off the remnants of their pooja into the river along with the polythene bags that they bring. Really a sad state of affairs 😦
      We also saw some dead bodies floating (at a distance). Our boatman told us that some people… like young children, people bitten by snakes,… are not cremated but given jal samadhi by custom. And then of course the ashes after cremation all go into the Ganga
      Yes, Cheebu also went with us. She had a great time 🙂

  6. Beautiful pics! Benares is a place I have never been to, but would definitely be interested in going to sometime. The history of the place sounds fascinating. Would love to study more about that.

    Are all the ghats used for cremation? There is a ghat called Karnataka Ghat in your pics… is it used exclusively for people from Karnataka? :O

    Any idea how you can go to Benares from Bangalore? Is there a train, or do you need to get down at some nearest station?

    • Thank you TGND. Yes, Benares is a place that you should definitely visit at least once in your lifetime 🙂
      No, Most of the ghats are bathing and Puja ghats. Only a couple of them are used for cremation – the Harishchandra Ghat and Mannikarna ghat. During the boat ride you can actually see several funeral pyres burning. That is why I said Life and death coexisting together.
      Varanasi has an airport and the closest railway station is Varanasi. The other closest airport would be Lucknow from where you can go by train. Not sure of direct trains to Varanasi from Bangalore.

    • Hey AM glad I could take you on a short trip 🙂
      The Ganga Arti at the Ghats is definitely worth seeing. But unfortunately I could not see it during this trip. Hence no pics 😦 But I have seen it during a previous trip when I had gone to Varanasi for a conference.

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