Rajghat – Older than Banaras?

Rajghat is the northernmost ghat of Varanasi and located just before the Malviya bridge. It is one of the most famous ghats of Varanasi but holds no religious importance today. In 1970 the municipal corporation of Varanasi built a pucca ghat here to attract tourists. Many travel companies organise walks here and use the riverfront as the starting point for the boat tour.

Rajghat Varanasi
Rajghat Varanasi

Even though a very few tourists have Rajghat on their list but it remains the centre of attraction for the scholars of history. Rajghat is home to one of the newest excavation sites of Archaeological Survey of India. Just a few meters away from the ghat are remains of ancient settlements dating back to 8th century BCE to 18 century AD. Which suggests that Varanasi is much older than what it was thought to be.

Ruins of ancient settlement at Rajghat, varanasi
Ruins of an ancient settlement at Rajghat, Varanasi

In medieval age, Rajghat used to be the residence of the kings, which is why it was named as “Raj”(rule/ruler) Ghat. The upper portion of the Ghat was Gahadavala fort and the lower part was used as a ferry point. Even today, one can see the dismantled fort of Rajghat which is divided by the Grand Trunk Road.

Tomb of Lal Khan at Rajghat, Varanasi
Ruin of Gahadavala fort (left), Malviya Bridge which carries the Grand Trunk Road(Center), Tomb of Lal Khan(Right)

The Mauryan and Gahadavala inscriptions mark Rajghat as one of the most sacred spots in Varanasi. It was the busiest ghat till 12th century but gradually lost its importance as people shifted to the southern parts and other ghats became more prominent. It continued to serve as a ferry point till the construction of the Malviya bridge.

A sketch of Explosion at Raj Ghat Ferry, Varanasi, 1850
An old sketch of Explosion at Raj Ghat Ferry, Varanasi, 1850

 

An old painting of Rajghat by Sita Ram (19th century)

Today, Rajghat is flocked by locals, Ghat merchants, Fishermen, and boatsmen who live nearby. Although this ghat has no religious significance it becomes the site of idol immersion during Durga Puja, Ganpati Visarjan and other festivities. Very recently a small pucca stage was constructed here to perform daily Aarti. The aarti is organized by locals and follows the same process as followed by the other ghats.

 

How to Reach Raj Ghat, Varanasi

Rajghat is located next to the Kashi railway station and Malviya Bridge. It is well connected to all the Railways stations, Airport and the bus stand via road. It can be reached by shared auto-rickshaws. One can also take a boat ride from any ghat to the Rajghat.

 

What to See 

  • Tomb of Lal Khan
  • Ravidas Temple
  • Malviya Bridge
  • Shree Baba Mahishasura & Shayar Mata Mandir

 

Nearby Ghats

Rani Ghat, Khidkiya Ghat

 

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