Maharajas' Express Blog

Experience peace and harmony at the Ganga Aarti in Varanasi


‘Aarti’ is a religious ritual performed by followers of Hinduism during worship. In this ritual, a cotton wick dipped in ghee is lighted in a lamp to produce light and smoke. In some instances, camphor is also used in place of ghee. Offering ‘Aarti’ or ‘lighting a lamp’ is an important element of worship in Hinduism.

Ganga Aarti at Varanasi is an age old religious practice which has been observed in the city for hundreds of years. There is no written history about the beginning of this ritual in the city. But it has become an intrinsic part of the socio-cultural fabric of the city and every evening thousands of people – both local residents and tourists flock to the banks of the river Ganga to witness this daily ceremonial practice.

The Ganga Aarti at Varanasi is held every evening at the Dashashwamedh ‘ghat’ (bank). It is the largest and most prominent hat in the city which is dotted with more than 80 ghats along the banks of the river Ganga. According to Hindu mythology, this ghat was created by Lord Brahma, one of the chief deities of Hindu religion to welcome Lord Shiva, another chief deity into the city of Varanasi. The ghat is located close to the Kashi Vishwanath temple which is a famous Lord Shiva temple.

The Ganga Aarti at Varanasi has two different timings depending on the season. During summers, the aarti begins at 7 pm in the evening and during winters it begins at around 6 pm. The total duration of the aarti is close to an hour but visitors are advised to reach the venue at least an hour in advance to get a good seat from where they can view the aarti proceedings without any disturbance.

The site of the aarti is decked with seven raised wooden platforms right at the edge of the river bank. During the proceedings, each of these raised platforms is covered with saffron colored clothes, flowers, incense, praying bells lamps, water pots and other necessary items for performing the ritual. A priest occupies each of these raised wooden platforms and performs the aarti.

It is a spectacular sight to witness. The chanting of religious hymns accompanied by prayer bells and large lit lamps transports attendees into a different place. It is a highly soothing experience to witness this scene on the banks of one of India’s largest rivers.

What is worth mentioning about the aarti is the sheer amount of coordination amongst the priests performing this ritual. Each ritual performed by these priests are synchronized including their chants of religious prayers.

The Maharajas’ Express organizes a special visit for its guests to witness the Ganga Aarti as part of its Indian Panaroma itinerary.