Ghat walls of Varanasi

June 2, 2021
Brightly coloured walls of Varanasi

Exploring the Ghat walls of Varanasi was thrilling. Especially, if you love photography. India is bright and different!

My adventure in Varanasi was way to short! Only spending three nights there. And four days was a blur, buzz and a very spiritual visit. I felt very emotional and couldn’t believe what I saw. It’s a special place.  I would definitely however allocate a week to this place if you wish to really experience it and photograph it.

What are Ghats in Varanasi?

The ghats of Varanasi, India, are depicted by a variety of architectural styles and structures. Including walls that line the riverbanks of the sacred Ganges River. These walls serve multiple purposes. From, providing support for the buildings above to acting as a boundary between the water and the land.

Religious man walking early morning in Varanasi.

Here’s my description of the walls you might find along the ghats of Varanasi:

Stone Walls

Many of the ghats are lined with solid stone walls, typically made of granite or sandstone. These walls are sturdy and durable, capable of withstanding the flow of the river and the weight of the structures built on top of them. The colours of these walls stand out to me, as I don’t see these walls in Western Countries.  They used red sand to make them, so they are beautiful to photograph.  Given the right time of the day.

Step Walls

Along certain sections of the ghats, you’ll find step-like structures that lead down to the river. These step walls are often made of stone. Quietly, used for various activities such as bathing, washing clothes, and performing religious rituals. Pilgrims and locals alike use these steps to access the Ganges for spiritual and practical purposes. I loved seeing the people scattered along the step walls, brightly coloured saris and families praying.

Decorative Walls

Some portions of the ghats features decorative walls. Not to mention, adorned with intricate carvings, sculptures, and religious motifs. These walls add to the aesthetic beauty of the area. In addition, you will see the specific temples or landmarks along the riverfront. I loved the diversity! And it’s beautiful how everyone just gets on with it!  Without any complication.

Graffiti artwork in Varanasi

Ancient Walls

Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Equally, with a rich history that spans thousands of years. Furthermore, along certain ghats, you may encounter ancient walls that have stood the test of time. Coupled with bearing the marks of centuries of human activity and cultural evolution.

Retaining Walls

Due to the fluctuating water levels of the Ganges. It’s amazing to see how the Ganges has raged full of water and then to a calm river. Leaving the reminisce of water lines behind.  I was totally gob smacked at the number of boats, people and believe it or not, birds in the Ganges.  All types of herons.  Together with, the retaining walls are essential for preventing erosion and maintaining the integrity of the ghats.

Functional Walls

In addition to serving aesthetic and structural purposes. These walls of the ghats also serve practical functions such as providing space for shops, stalls, and utility infrastructure. Absolutely thrilled to see massive cows on top of the walls!  It’s really such a fascinating way of life. These functional walls contribute to the bustling atmosphere of the ghats, where locals and visitors alike engage in commerce and social interaction. To see a man pray with half of his body in the Ganges, is something that truly is beautiful. I did find that often I just wanted to take it all in, so didn’t photograph those special moments.  I needed to be present!

Lastly, the walls of the ghats in Varanasi reflect the city’s rich cultural heritage. Without a doubt, the architectural diversity, and spiritual significance.

Making them integral components of this iconic pilgrimage destination. CLICK HERE to see more of my photography.

I do highly recommend, that if you want to spend time catching the right light and getting the perfect shots. You must stay longer. This way you will be able to really explore the Ghat walls of Varanasi.

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