One of India’s oldest and holiest cities is Benaras. Also known as Varanasi or Kashi, the city is extremely popular for its Ghats. A Ghat is a series of steps leading down to a body of water (which often is a holy river).
Every day, the Ghats at Benaras experience a mesmerising ‘Aarti’ which is performed at dawn and dusk. People from across India and the world flock to witness this extraordinary ritual.
Apart from this ceremony, one can also spot diverse activities like tourists enjoying boat rides, families performing final rituals of the deceased and pilgrims taking a plunge in the holy Ganga river.
The Ghats are also home to painters who sketch besides looking for intangible inspiration. Herds of Buffaloes enjoy the riverside whilst local children play cricket on the stairs.
Closer to the centre of 84 Ghats is Lali Ghat, famously known as ‘Dhobi Ghat’. This space is resplendent with men and women washing clothes. Known as Dhobis, their main responsibility is to collect dirty laundry from various households and hotels in the area, wash and iron the clothes and return them duly cleansed.
The Dhobis beat the clothes against the stone slabs at the Ghats and then rinse them in the flowing river water. The clothes are then left to dry on the steps transforming these Ghats into a mirage. One can walk about and relish the array of colours for they often serve as an inspiration for artists and photographers alike.
Text & Photos By Vidyavati Chandan