Maharajas' Express Blog

The Most Ancient Ritual of Varanasi – Ganga Aarti

Maharajas’ Express luxury train takes you to witness this dazzling as well as spiritually enriching ritual with its Indian Panorama journey. The tour comprises of passengers being taken for a beautiful boat ride in the holy Ganges, in Varanasi, where they witness the evening aarti being performed at the ghat.

Heritage Tour in Varanasi

Varanasi, also known as Kashi and Banaras, is perceived to be the hub of spirituality in India. The city is believed to be created by Lord Shiva and is considered to be the oldest in the world. It is situated on the banks of river Ganga and is known for its numerous temples, ghats, silks of the finest quality, and the ever popular Benarasi Paan (a combination of betel leaf and a number of spices, flavors and fragrances). It is one of the seven holy cities in India and is undoubtedly among the most well-known pilgrimage sites in the country.

The ghats of Varanasi are known for their tranquil beauty and serenity. The eye-catching beauty of these ghats attract lots of travelers. In all, there are 84 ghats in the city, all of them unique in their own ways. One of the ghats, known as Dashashwamedh Ghat, is popular for the Ganga Aarti that is performed here. This ceremony is considered to be one of the ‘must-see things’ in the city, and a trip to Varanasi is incomplete if one does not witness the Ganga Aarti being performed.

According to the Hindu Mythology, Lord Brahma created Dashashwamedh Ghat in order to welcome Lord Shiva. He sacrificed ten horses in a Yagna and therefore the ghat was named Dashashwamedh (Dasha – ten, Ashwa – horses and Medh – sacrifice). Thousands of visitors gather at Dashashwamedh Ghat every evening to view the amazing spectacle of Gange Aarti. Though the tradition is thousands of years old, these days the aarti is choreographed with priests dressed in traditional Indian clothes, moving on the tunes of melodious Bhajans and performing the ceremony with huge deepams and mashals (cressets). The show is watched by hundreds of pilgrims, tourists and photographers, who rent boats in order to view this spectacular sight. Every inch of the ghat, boats and even rooftops around the ghat are occupied with eager spectators.

Read also: A Look into the History and Antiquity of the Ancient City Varanasi

The event is a photographer’s joy as the entire ghat is lit up with an exquisite golden glow emanating from lamps. The place develops a mela-like atmosphere with vendors selling tiny oil lamps, flowers and incense sticks that are bought as offerings for the aarti. During the ceremony there are five raised platforms on which sit five priests, clad in saffron and cream, with all the aarti paraphernalia in front of them. People are urged to participate in this stunning ritual. The priests perform the ritual on pre-recorded music. It starts with the priests clapping to the rhythm of music, they blow conch shells invoking the river goddess, then the aarti is performed using incense sticks and dhoop, along with camphor and multi-tiered lamps. The lights from torches and deepams, the smoke, and the fragrance of incense along with collective chants of thousands of pilgrims, engulfs the surroundings, adding to the momentum and energy of the event. The smoke creates a cloak of mystery around the place and soul-stirring bhajans transport you to another dimension.

So, come for a heritage tour in Varanasi and view this magnificent spectacle of Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat. It’ll prove to be an experience that you will cherish for a long time.