Assi Ghat is one of the most popular ghats in Varanasi, visited regularly by both tourists and locals. It is located in the southern part of the holy city of Varanasi at the confluence of Ganga and Assi rivers. People visit Assi Ghat for several reasons, to soak in the spiritual atmosphere, enjoy the famous evening aarti and get a glimpse into the local culture. This ghat finds a mention in various Hindu scriptures like Kurma Purana, Matsya Purana, Padma Purana and Agni Purana.
Why and how did Assi Ghat get its name? According to a mythological tale in Hinduism, Goddess Durga, after killing the demons Shumbha-Nishumbha, threw her sword. The place where the sword landed, resulted in the emergence of a river which was then called Assi. Another mythological tale states that Lord Rudra (a form of Lord Shiva) was furious with Asuras and eliminated 80 asuras in his rage at this very place. This is how it came to be known as Assi (which means 80 in Hindi). However, after killing the asuras, Lord Rudra repented his actions and wished he hadn’t killed them. Following this incident, he gave up all forms of violence and declared Varanasi as a place which would stand for non-violence.
According to devotees, taking a dip at Assi Ghat (where the two rivers, Ganga and Assi meet) is equivalent to taking a dip at thousands of other holy rivers. There are certain occasions when devotees take a dip by the thousands. Some of these are natural events like lunar and solar eclipse, Makar Sakranti and Probodhoni Ekadashi. There is a Shivlinga under the peepal tree located in the ghat. Here, devotees offer holy water after taking a dip in the Ganga. Another linga can be found inside a small marble temple located in close proximity to the temple.
People visit Assi Ghat, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Varanasi, for various reasons. Some visit it to take a holy dip, others do it to enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Spending some time at the ghat is believed to bring about a calming effect on the mind and body. One of the best times to visit the ghat is during the early morning, when the morning aarti, also called Subeh Benares, is held. Assi Ghat also overflows with visitors during festivals like Mahashivratri and Ganga Mahotsav.
Varanasi, one of the oldest and holiest cities in India, is home to a number of tourist attractions. There are other attractions which you can check out after visiting Assi Ghat. Here are some of them.