Assi Ghat derives its name from Assi river which flows nearby the Ghat. The name of Varanasi city itself is made from two words Varuna & Assi. Varanasi is said to be the area between the Varuna & Assi rivers.
The series of Ghats of Varanasi starts from here. This is the southern most side of series of continuous Ghats of Varanasi.However a new Ghat has been opened couple of years back next to Assi ghat now.
Address: Assi Ghat, Assi Rd, Near Assi Ghat Police Chowki, Shivala, Varanasi – 221010
Open & Close: Open on all days – 24×7
Entry Fee: Free
Best Time to Visit: October-March
Assi Ghat, Varanasi-Brief Overview
The Assi Ghat is placed at the confluence of the Rivers Assi and Ganga and is famous for the large Shiva Lingam installed under a peepal tree and its religious merit in Hinduism. It has been mentioned in many ancient Hindus texts Puranas and in various legends as well.
Assi is regarded as one of the five pilgrimages (Panchatirtha) in Varanasi – Assi, Dasashwamedh, Varuna-Sangam, Panchganga and Manikarnika.
Assi Ghat is the heart of Varanasi and the locals. The tourists flock here to enjoy the amazing view of the sunset and sunrise at the Ganges. Many tourists and foreigners travellers choose to stay here in Varanasi for a prolonged periods.
The Ghat is the closest to the famous Banaras Hindu University(BHU), its is a famous spot among the students and local youths to while away their time in the evenings. You will find many students flocking here especially on weekends.
Recently, the Ghat started having Aarti in the morning which is a must watch if you want to experience the true feel of Varanasi.
Also, the tourists generally travel from Assi to Dashaswamedh Ghat in the evening by boat, to see the famous aarti conducted there every evening which is an experience like none other.
(Note: The Ghats of Varanasi are all interconnected and some walk from Assi to Dashaswamedh. Although its gets merky at some places. As student of BHU I myself have walked few times from Assi to Dashaswamedh on foot) .
Origin of Assi Ghat:
Assi Ghat gets it name from Assi river. Which it turns gets its name from Sanskrit word Asi=Sword.
Legend says that Goddess Durga killed demon Shumbh & Nishumbh and threw the sword(Asi) at a place which was later named as Mahadev Kund. This is now situated at Kandawa( कंदवा) near Ghamahapur village in Varanasi. The Assi river starts from this Karmdeshwar Mahadev Kund and joins the Ganges after covering a distance of about 8 kilometres.
Its catchment area is about 14 square kilometres.
Earlier this river Assi used to join the Ganges near Assi Ghat, but after the Ganga Action Plan from Government, it was diverted and merged into the Ganges about two kilometres earlier on southern side.
(Note: Mother Durga killed Shumbh-Nishumbh in pre-winter Navarataris (Called as Sharadiya Navaratras. Naovratrs are nine days of holy observance in Hinduism). This falls in nearly October-November as per Gregorian calendar.)
Varanasi was later called Banaras by the Mughals and later the British also carried forward the same name. However post independence of India the city is officially named as Varanasi again now.
Religious Merit of Assi Ghat:
Assi Ghat is described in the Kashi Khand as ‘Saimbeda Tirtha’(Tirtha=Pilgrimage) which means that the person who takes a dip here even once in his life will get punya(Merits from good karma) of all the Tirthas. Some other texts such as the Matsya Puran, Kurma Puran, Padma Puran and the Agni Puran too describe this ghat.
Lord Asisangameshwar and Laxminarayan Temple are also located here, Lord Asisangameshwar is believed to be the deity of the flow and confluence of two rivers. A huge Shiva lingam is situated under a Peepal(a kind of fig tree native to India) tree at the Ghat, where pilgrims worship and make offerings after taking a bath in Ganges.
Apart from this, Narasimha, Mayureshwar and Baneshwar temples are situated on this ghat. According to Kashikhand, all other pilgrimages in the world are not even equal to the sixteenth part of the Assi Ghat. Therefore, by taking a bath at this ghat, one gets the virtuous result like bathing in all the pilgrimages.
The pilgrims usually take the holy dip here in Chaitra/Chaitya (Falls in March/April as per Gregaorian calendar) and Magh (January/February) as well as on some other significant events like the solar and lunar eclipses, Probodhoni Ekadashi(July/August) and Makar Sankranti(January14-15).
Aarti Timings at Assi Ghat:
Arati takes place on Assi Ghat every evening. Timings vary slightly in according to season.
7:00 PM in summers
Around 6:00 PM in winters
Subah-e-Benaras of Assi Ghat
Subah-e-Benaras is a unique programme which has been started by the Hon. Minister of the State, Uttar Pradesh on the 24th of November, 2014.
The remarkable initiative proved to be really successful and became a salient feature of the flourishing tourism industry of the town. Several people gather at the Assi Ghat early in the morning to witness the bewitching sunrise emerging from the horizon of clear waters.
A boat ride tour lets you take a peek into the sacred, divine and devotional culture of Varanasi. It is a wonderful sight to see the sleepy city wake up to life and vibrancy. The chanting of the mantras, clanking of bells and the splash of boats into the water, pierce through the tranquil quietude is a spectacle to witness and behold.
Timing of Subah e Banaras
Summers: 5:00 AM – 7:00 AM
Winters: 5:40 AM – 7:30 AM
Duration: 2 hrs (approx.)
- Chanting of Vedas and welcoming the day at Sunrise. Appreciating nature and its best.
- Performing Vedic Yagya to purify the inner self of sins and to attain world peace.
- Recognizing and appreciating five basic elements of the world i.e. air, water, land, sky and fire.
- Listening to ragas and classical music performed by trained artists for inner peace.
- Practising yoga for a fit body, mind and soul.
Festival Celebrated on Assi Ghat:
Mahashivratri is one of the most important and one of the most grandly celebrated festivals at the Assi Ghat. It is on this holy day when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. Thousand of devotees gather at the ghat where the puja is performed after which the pilgrims take a holy dip in the River Ganges.
2. Ganga Mahotsav
Ganga Mahotsav is organised from Prabodhni Ekadashi till Dev Deepawali. It is a grandiose three day celebration with pujas and rituals performed everyday at the ghat.
The event is marked by a classical music performance at the ghats by trained professionals.
3. Ganga Dussehra
Ganga Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of Jayeshtha month of Hindu calendar. On this, the devotees observe a fast, rituals and pujas are performed at the ghat. Then the worshippers proceed to take a dip in the River Ganges.
The ghat is lit up with vibrant fairs, people sing devotional songs and throw lamps in the river. Heavy security is arranged by the government to manage the crowds.
4. Dev Deepawali
Dev Deepawali is one of the most auspicious festivals in Varanasi. All the ghat including Assi Ghat is decorated with little clay lamps which are made to float in the river.
Ganga Aarti is held on the ghat in the evening and later at night, people end the celebrations by bursting fire crackers.
5. Makar Sankranti
On this occasion, the ghat is decorated with bright coloured flowers and diyas. The skies are dotted with colourful kites and people prepare sweet delicacies at home.
6. Bharat Milap
Bharat Milap is another one of the popular festivals in Varanasi that is celebrated with a lot of zeal and fervour.
On this day, people gather at the ghats and the streets and put ‘tilak’ on each others’ forehead and exchange garlands made of flowers.
Holi is another one of the important festivals celebrated at the Assi Ghat. The onset of the celebrations is marked by the ritual of Holika Dahan, after which people proceed to apply abir on each others’ faces. All the lanes and streets are covered in beautiful Holi colours.
People also enjoy ‘Gujiyas’ and ‘Thandai’, which is the highlight of the festival.
Pop Culture of Assi Ghat :
Time and again, Varanasi has been featured in several movies, short films and documentaries owing to its rich and varied culture and traditions.
One of the most popular and recent movies featuring Assi Ghat is Mohalla Assi starring Sunny Deol which was released in 2018. The movie is based on Dr. Kashi Nath Singh’s Hindi novel- Kashi ka Assi and has been set in the lanes of the ghat.
Raanjhana is another popular movie which includes several scenes of Assi Ghat.
In addition to that, a lot of books- Hindi, English and other languages- have been written about the magnanimous Assi Ghat.
You can find several hawkers selling these books on the ghats itself. Some of them are even available online. The books majorly focus on the inception of the town and about the numerous rituals, customs and traditions performed on the Assi Ghat.
Street Food and Cafes at Assi Ghat :
1. Kashi Tea Stall
Kashi Tea Stall is one of the most crowded and popular tea stalls located on the Assi Ghat in Varanasi. Boasting of aromatic heavenly ‘adrak wali chai’, the stall also has several other varieties of chai including lemon tea, masala tea, black tea etc. Besides, it sells delicious pakodas, samosas and other snacks.
2. Pappu Chai near Marwari Sewa Sangh
Another famous chai stall at Assi Ghat is Pappu Chai serving amazing black tea which is popularly known as liquor tea. You can also taste fried idli and other snacks here.
3. Pizzeria Vaatika Cafe
This is one quaint cafe serving delicious home-made pizzas, Chinese and Indian food with a view of the riverside. They have riverside seating where you can enjoy amazing food with an amazing view.
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