Varanasi’s ghats (Banaras Ghats) descend from the city down the banks and into the waters of the holy River Ganges. There are almost 100 individual ghats lining the river’s edge in this region, their steep steps making access to the river possible during both the wet and dry seasons. The oldest and most famous ghats in the area are Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, and Harishchandra. Others include Assi Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Lalita Ghat, and Kedar Ghat.
As the religious capital of India among Hindus, Varanasi sees pilgrims and other visitors drawn to the Banaras Ghats in their droves. Visitors can absorb the atmosphere by taking a sunrise boat-ride along the river, while marveling at the colorful temples and religious activities lining the water’s edge.
Devout Hindus aim to travel to the Banaras Ghats at least once in their lifetimes, and most hope to die and be cremated within the city in order that their ashes be swept away by the Ganges. The cremation fires here burn all day every day, with the main cremation ghat being Manikarnika. Some ghats are simply used for prayers and bathing.
Travel between the Banaras Ghats by auto-rickshaw or on a boat trip along the river. Trips from Dashashwamedh Ghat to Manikarnika Ghat are popular, although some boat operators begin at the most southerly ghat, Assi, and head north.