One of the most important bathing spots in Varanasi, the Assi Ghat lies on the confluence of the Ganga and Assi rivers and by tradition marks the southern boundary of the city.
Though little more than a stream today, the Assi is believed to have sprung from this spot when the goddess Durga threw her sword (asi) into the ground after killing the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.
The ghat is very popular with pilgrims, who believe that they can achieve great punya (spiritual merit) by bathing in the sacred waters here, particularly on highly auspicious occasions such as when there is a lunar or solar eclipse.
Mentioned in many ancient texts such as the Puranas, the Assi Ghat has undergone many changes over the course of its long existence. During the sixteenth century, the famous poet Tulsi Das wrote Ramcharitmanas, the first version of the Ramayana to be rendered in a vernacular idiom that could be easily understood by the common people, in a house just above the ghat. A section of the Assi Ghat was later named the Tulsi Ghat in honor of the poet and his house and a temple dedicated to him still stand there.
Nearby the ghat is the Lolarka Kund, or Tank of the Trembling Sun, which is considered be one of the most sacred sites in Varanasi. Dedicated to the ancient sun god Surya, it is said to mark the spot where the sun trembled after admiring the stunning beauty of ancient Kashi.
The Lolarka Kund springs to life during the Lolarka Festival held in August/September every year, when childless women flock there in their thousands to ask the gods to bless them with offspring.