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.