The ghats in Varanasi have served, and continue to serve, various purposes, especially spiritual. One of those is Dashashwamedh Ghat, one of the oldest and most famous ghats in Varanasi. Overlooked by the architecturally impressive Vishwanath Temple, it attracts both devotees and tourists in large numbers.
There are two mythological beliefs surrounding its name. One of them says that it was created by Lord Brahma to welcome Lord Shiva, while the other says that Lord Brahma sacrificed (medh) 10 (das) horses (aswa) during Ashwamedha Yajna performed here. According to historical sources, the ghat was built by Bajirao Peshwa I in the year 1740 AD before being reconstructed by Ahilyabai Holkar, Queen of Indore, in 1774 AD.
The Dashashwamedh Ghat is visited by a large number of visitors due to its immense religious significance. A major attraction is the evening aarti which is held every evening and is attended by both locals and international tourists. The aarti is performed by pandits dressed in saffron robes and commences with the blowing of the conch. Then, incense sticks are lighted and waved in certain patterns. This is followed by the lighting of large brass lamps which are waved in perfect circular patterns. All the while, the rhythmic chanting of mantras pervades the air. Beautifully choreographed and visually resplendent, it draws crowds in large numbers.
Apart from the Dashashwamedh Ghat, there are other tourist attractions in Varanasi which provide excellent opportunities for sightseeing and exploration. Some of these are mentioned below.