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Hotels Varanasi close to Ghats (Varanasi, India)

Ghats (Varanasi, India)

A ‘ghat’ is a flight of steps beside a river bank and the ghats of Varanasi are probably the most famous in India due to their location in India’s holiest city beside Hinduism’s most holy river, the Ganges. The river attracts pilgrims from all over the world who come to cremate their dead, scatter ashes, bathe in the water and meditate on its banks. Boat trips on the river are a popular tourist attraction, particularly at sunrise when people come to pray towards the rising sun. Many visitors will find fascination in the experience of floating past the ghats and observing ritual behaviour whilst others find it intensely disturbing and even embarrassingly voyeuristic, with particular concern about observing ritual cremations. Tales of body parts and incompletely burned corpses floating past the tourist boats are probably exaggerated but are not rare and the river water is undeniably unpleasant and heavily polluted. In total there are more than 100 ghats in Varanasi but the best known is probably the Jalasayin Ghat which is the main ‘burning ghat’ or place of cremation. Most guides will ask tourists not to take photographs around this ghat.

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