The ghats of Varanasi are hallmarks of the cultural capital of India. Ahilyabai Ghat, one of the historical ghats of Varanasi, plays a vital role in social and religious life of the residents. The original name of this ghat is Kevalagiri Ghat. During 1778 to 1785, this ghat was built, extended and re-built. The credit for its present ‘pucca’ form goes to Devi Ahilyabai Holkar, Queen of Indore. Under her patronage, several architectural landmarks like Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Trayambakeshwar Shiv Temple in Nasik, Mahakal Temple in Ujjain, Onkareshwar Mahadev Temple, Manikarnika Ghat in Varanasi etc had been built on India’s landscape. In her honour & memory, this ghat was renamed as the Ahilyabai Ghat. It was Sherring who mentioned in 1868 that the new name of the ghat is Ahilyabai Ghat. Before this, till 1831, it was James Prinsep who announced that the name of the ghat was Kevalagiri Ghat. The Ahilyabai Ghat compound consists of a palace & a residential district. A service court, continuing down to the ghat, is located in front of the palace. Along with a wrestling site (akhara), there are few religious buildings and servant quarters inside the compound.
The best time to visit Ahilyabai Ghat is during early morning hours. At the time of dawn, large number Hindu worshippers gather here to take a holy dip in the holy River Ganga and offer prayers to wash away all their sins. Ahilyabai Ghat has a group of three temples, dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva and several Hindu deities. As popular in northern India, the spire of the temple is built in conventional ‘Nagara’ style of architecture. Devotees do ‘darshana’ by praying the deities. Bath in Ganga is said to be ‘moksha’ giving. The steps of the Ahilyabai Ghat overlook the colonnades, terraces, and the rest houses. The sight is a promising one from all the angles. Thus, it can easily be said that Ahilyabai Ghat is one of the top-rated places to visit in Varanasi. Heritage walk tours conducted in south Varanasi unfailingly comprise Ahilyabai Ghat in the itinerary. The location of the Ahilyabai Ghat is towards south direction of Dashashwamedh Ghat, sandwiched between Munshi Ghat and Rana Mahal Ghat. The distance of Ahilyabai Ghat from Varanasi railway junction is 4.6 km and would take around 20 minutes to half an hour to reach. The entry fee for the ghats in Varanasi is free so that everyone and anyone can visit & explore it anytime. The palace above Ahilyabai Ghat is looked after by the Ahilyabai Indore Estate Trust & the ghat is maintained by Varanasi Municipal Corporation.