This post is part of a series on ‘Walks in India‘.
Highlights: Boat ride, Life on the Ghats, Burning Ghats, Ganga Aarti, Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Season: October to March, when it is not hot.
Time of the day: Morning 6 to 9 or evening 4 to 7.
Distance: Approximately 3kms
Map. This is an interactive map of the walk. Zoom in to get a closer look. Click on the blue markers to identify of each location.
View Walks in India – Ghats of Varanasi in a larger map
Map of places to see and walking on the ghats of Varanasi
Varanasi is known as the oldest living city. A lot of places and structures you see along the ghats are indeed very old. Do the walk in morning hours to witness the sunrise from a boat on the Ganges. The evening hours see more activity on the ghats, and you can conclude your walk by attending the Ganga Aarti at 6pm.
Start early in the morning from Dasawamedh Ghat and hire a boat to take you all the way south to Assi Ghat. Watch the sky turn from dark to crimson at sunrise as the boat takes you over the river.
Get down from the boat at Assi Ghat and start walking back along the river towards Dasaswamedh Ghat. See the life go by as you walk through the ghats. The people and the activities you see can vary a lot depending on the time of the day. Prabhu Ghat is where you find washermen washing clothes and drying them on the banks. Harischandra Ghat, close to Dasaswamedh is where the dead bodies are burned. Kedar ghat has steep steps leading to a brick-red and white striped temple. Munshi ghat has attractive ancient buildings, and view point from atop that fort gives a nice view of the the area along the ghats where the boats are stationed.
Through other ghats, you can witness many other things, like water buffaloes bathing in the river, mynas pecking food grains given by pilgrims, people making offerings to sun god, mendicants meditating, pilgrims taking holy dip, just to name a few. Kedar Ghat and Tulsi Ghat are some of the other ghats that you pass through during the walk. Activities in the ghats are endless and you keep seeing new things each time you return. There are many chai shops and a few juice centers on the way where you can fill yourself, provided you are not very hygiene conscious.
Most pilgrims tend to congregate near Dasaswamedh Ghat, which is close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. You can spend some time here watching people in pooja, performing shraddha karma or other rituals. Further ahead is Manikarnika Ghat, another burning ghat where the dead are cremated. Come back to Dasaswamedh from Manikarnika and walk away from the river for a visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
You can end the morning walk at Dasaswamedh Ghat with breakfast in one of the many restaurants in the lane leading into the town. If it is evening, sit at Dasaswamedh and witness a session of Ganga Aarti, which lasts till 7pm.
++ More about Varanasi on paintedstork.com