The longest river of India, Ganges is also the holiest, most sacred river of the country. Many make a pilgrimage to the city of Varanasi, Allahabad and Haridwar among others to wash away their sins in the pure waters of river Ganga. Ghats, river front steps, punctuate the bank of the River Ganga throughout the length and breadth of the country. Millions of people crowd the ghats of the Ganges, making them a hub of religious activity, culture and history.
So, whether you want to partake in ritual baths, perform religious ceremonies or just sit to watch the surrounding commotion or a beautiful sunrise, visit the below-listed ghats in India.
Dasaswamedh Ghat, Varanasi
Probably the most important and crowded among all ghats of Varanasi, Dasaswamedh Ghat is renowned for its evening Ganga ‘aarti’, that is performed with much fervour every evening. There are two legends believed about this Ghat, which is also the oldest Ghat of the city. The first one is, that Lord Brahma created the Dashashwamedh Ghat to welcome Lord Shiva, and the second one is that Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses in a yajna here. Today, it is a famous religious spot for devotees, pilgrims and tourists alike.
Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar
The most famous bathing ghat of Haridwar, Har Ki Pauri translates to ‘Lord Shiva’s Steps’ in Hindi. Brahm Kund, an area within Hari ki Pauri where the evening Ganga ‘aarti’ takes place, is considered most sacred in the town. More than a thousand devotees and pilgrims flock here from all over the country to take a holy dip in the water as it is believed that it will wash away the sins and would help attain Moksha. To visit Haridwar, book New Delhi flights and take a bus or drive into the city by car.
Sangam Ghat, Allahabad
Allahabad is where three of the holiest rivers of India, namely Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati confluence. Devotees consider bathing or taking a dip at the Sangam (confluence) point. Maha Kumbh Mela, which takes place every 12 years, fascinates millions of devout Hindus who believe that taking a holy dip will cleanse their soul. Legends say that a few drops of the immortality nectar fell into the river and therefore, the city is referred to as Tirth Raj, which means ‘the king of all holy places’.
Gandhi Ghat, Patna
The evening Ganga ‘aarti’ is a spectacular, sacred ritual that takes place on the Gandhi Ghat in Patna. If you want to enjoy the best glimpse of Ganga Aarti, then tourists should hire a boat or view it from MV Ganga Vihar, a floating restaurant. Gandhi Ghat is beaming with devotees during Chhath Puja, a popular festival of Bihar. If you choose to stay, hotels in patna are readily available for a comfortable sojourn.
Triveni Ghat, Rishikesh
The most important and revered bathing ghats of Rishikesh, Triveni Ghat is the meeting point of river Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Devotees make special offerings at Triveni ghat; in the early hours of morning, they offer milk to the river and feed the fish. The floating diyas (lamps) in the river as part of evening ‘aarti’ ceremony makes for an illuminating sight.
Even if you are not much spiritual yourself, you should visit these ghats at least once in your lifetime to witness the flock of devotees offering their prayers and to partake in the many festivities.