Ghats & Cremations on the GangesThe Ganges, which normally flows southeast, reverses its course and flows north for a while at Varanasi. This trait is considered very auspicious and that is why Banaras has a special significance among the Ganges Baths. There is a five-mile circumambulation path that goes around this sacred city. There are as many as 81 bathing ghats and other holy kund. It is said that it is important to bathe at Manikarnika, by the cremation Ghat in order to purify oneself.
The three most important ghats are Manikarnika, Dasaswamedh and Panch-Ganga. To bath at these three ghats is called Tri-Tirtha Yatra. Also important are Assi Sangam and Varuna Sangam. To bathe in these five places is call Panch-Tirtha Yatra. You are supposed to bathe in these five ghats in a certain order. First you bathe in Assi Ghat, then Dasaswamedh Ghat, then the Ghat by the Adi Keshava Temple near the Varuna River, then Panch-Ganga and then Manikarnika. After taking bath at these five places, most pilgrims then go for 'Darshan' of Vishwanath, Annapurna, and Sakshi Vinayaka (the witnessing Ganesh). It is said that if you bathe in these five places, all in the same day and in this order, you will not get another material body. You can also do Panch-Tirtha Yatra by boat, but it is better to do it by foot.