Ganga Aarti in Varanasi
One of the Varanasi’s most mesmerizing and spiritually uplifting experiences is the Evening Ganga Aarti at Ghat, a ritual that has been performed for centuries along the ghats of Varanasi.
Now a days almost all the ghats have the Ganga Aarti twice a day – morning and evening. For Evening aarti, the most popular ghat is Dashashwamedh Ghat & Morning aarti is famous at Assi ghat.
Ganga Aarti Time :
Evening Ganga Aarti :
Location of Evening Ganga Aarti : Dashashwamedh Ghat
Timing of Evening Ganga Aarti : 6:30 PM
Duration : 45 Minutes
Charge : Free of Cost
Note : Ganga Aarti starts exactly at the sunset time. The starting time of the ceremony changes with sunset time.
Morning Ganga Aarti :
Location of Morning Ganga Aarti : Assi Ghat
Timing of Evening Ganga Aarti : 5:00 PM
Duration : 45 Minutes
Charge : Free of Cost
Note : Subah e Banaras, which is held between 5-5.30 am in summers and slightly later (timings can be checked) in winter.
To witness the Ganga Aarti people throng the ghat by around 5.00 pm. The Ganga Aarti starts exactly at the sunset time. The starting time of the ceremony changes with sunset time.
There are different ways to witness the aarti – from the ghat (fees for special VIP seats -right next to the Aarti area where the aarti platforms are – charges could be any where around Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000).
Note : Please note that from the administration side there are no entry charges for the aarti. Depending on the space availability and the time one has reached the ghat one can witness the aarti.
How to See the Ganga Aarti comfortably ?
One interesting & most comfortable way to witness the aarti, and we found it the best way to watch the aarti was on boats. These boats are available from nearby ghats.
Haggling works here and one has many options in boat ride (witnessing the aarti and then cruising the river Ganga (mostly just a glimpse of various ghats -Manikarnika ghat onwards to Assi ghat).
One can go in for an individual boat (rates different for manual and motorised boat) or can even pay for the ride on a per seat basis (much cheaper option).
In case looking for budgets – then go for an individual ride (hire the full boat) only if in a large group (more than 5 people) (when we went they were charging anything from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 6000), else you can opt for either sharing boat ride (Rs. 300-Rs. 600 per person) or seat on a large boat (2 tiered- the seats are placed on the top tier), the price would again be anything from Rs. 150 to Rs. 600 per person depending on the boat and also your haggling skills.
What are the boat Option for evening ganga aarti ?
- Private Motor Boat : Best for 1 to 10 Person (Charge Start From Rs. 3499)
- Lighting Motor Boat : Best For 1 to 10 Person (Charge Start from Rs. 4499)
- Private Bajra Boat : Best For 5 to 25 Person
- Cruise : Charge Start From Rs. 999
- Sharing Boat : (Rs. 200 to 600)
Note : Please note all charges may vary as per the festival & timing. These are the approximate charges.
All boats will provide you with life jackets -technically mandatory to wear. The complete time including the cruise and aarti would be around 2 hours.
What is the Mantra of Ganga Aarti ?
गङ्गायां च सकृत्स्नातो हयमेधफलं लभेत्
तर्पयंश्च पितृम्स्तत्र तारयेन्नरकार्णवात्
History of Varanasi Ganga Aarti
According to legends, Lord Brahma organised a Yagna (fire sacrifice) at the Dashashwamedh ghat to recall Lord Shiva from exile. Since then, every evening there is an aarti of the Mother Ganga. It is difficult to say that the aarti in current format is similar to the ancient format. The current format was started in the year 1991.
It is written in Veda’s that participating in the Ganga Aarti purifies the soul and creates a positive environment all around.
Rituals & Process of Ganga Aarti
The aarti is performed by 7 young learned Brahmins of Kashi (symbolising the Sapta Rishis who offered their Puja to Maa Ganga).
There is chanting of Mantras and melodious bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva (Vishwanath) and Lord Vishnu. The aarti is always carried out facing the River Ganga
All the priests who are doing the aarti, wear the same outfit, a dhoti, a kurta, and a stole or drape (colours could be white or saffron or pink or gold or red or a combination of colours). The priests start the preparation before the aarti starts.
The young priests start the aarti by chanting mantras and blowing the conch shell (शंख). A picture of river ganga as goddess incarnate Maa Ganga (mother Ganga) is placed on the central platform of the seven smaller platforms. It is decorated with garlands and flowers.
The whole ritual follows a set sequence – incense and flowers are offered to the water (symbolically using hand gestures).
Post this the priests start to move the many layered huge brass lamp (with many small lamps which are lit) in a clockwise direction in a rhythmic manner. This layered lamp looks like Sheshnag (ruler of the nagas (snakes) having 5 or 7 heads). The Narayana form of Vishnu is often depicted as resting on Sheshnag, accompanied by his consort Lakshmi.
During all these incense burning, lamp movement etc. there is constant chanting of Mantras and Har Har Mahadev. The whole atmosphere is magical and even in so much crowd there is a feeling of peace. Something like peace in chaos.
Fresh flowers are offered to River Ganga or mother Ganga in the end.
Yes witnessing Ganga Aarti in the evening is a unique experience and should not be missed at all.
Images / Photos of Evening Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat