Raja Ghat, built by Rajirao Balaji in 1720 AD, is one of the famous ghats of Varanasi. It was actually transformed by levelling ‘kachcha’ construction existing earlier. Its present look is result of continuous renovation over a period of time. Situated between Mansarovar Ghat & Pandey Ghat, Raja Ghat is presently huge and heavy walled fort like architecture with wider walking paths and stone-built steps. During 1780 AD to 1807 AD, Amrit Rao Peshwa stayed in Varanasi as he was exiled by the British government. During his sojourn in Varanasi, he not only re-built Raja Ghat with some stone slabs but also constructed four temples – Vinayakeshwara Temple, Amriteshvara Temple, Narayneshwara Temple, and Gangeshwara Temple – and four auxiliary shrines. He renovated the Prabhas Tirtha as well in 1780 AD. Keeping in view a large number of works done by the exiled Peshwa on Raja Ghat, it was rechristened Amrit Rao Ghat. James Princep, contemporary English scholar and founder member of Asiatic Society of Bengal, also mentions it as Amrit Rao Ghat. But, Motichand (1931 AD) was the one who made it to the old name as the Raja ghat. The ghat is recognized by a palace on its northern side and Annapurna Math on northern side. All these sections are divided through a stairway. It was in 1965 AD that the government of Uttar Pradesh rebuilt Raja Ghat by adding a set of stairs made of purple stones. At the front of the ghat, there is a two-storey refectory with terrace that was earlier reserved only for the Brahmins and their use. Special significance of Raja Ghat in the past can be noticed from the fact that it was used to feed the Brahmins, ascetics, and Sanskrit college students. This cultural and religious practice continued until 1980 AD when INTACH, trust run by Clarks Group of Hotels, commenced its programme of attracting foreign tourists and, thus promoting tourism in Varanasi, by carrying out several cultural activities. The tourists visit the ghat to do religious activities. The sight of devotees and pilgrims performing rituals & holy bath is a normal view at Raja Ghat. The most number of people are seen during early morning time and evening aarti time.
Raja Ghat, comparatively clean and calm without much crowd, is convenient with space for parking boats. One can have a boat ride in River Ganga from here to view the cremation ceremonies along the banks. The boats usually travel upstream under power and then float downriver slowly. Walking on Raja Ghat gives a glimpse into ancient Indian architecture. The entry at Raja Ghat in Varanasi is free for everyone so that anyone and everyone could visit and explore the ghats at their preferred time. The location of the Raja Ghat is in Bangali Tola near the Narad ghat. Another noticeable aspect of Raja Ghat is that it is linked with a wide road, contrary to being in a narrow ‘gali’ as most of the ghats are located. So, it can be easily reached by car. The onwnership of the temples, refractory and palace lies with Peshwa Temple Trust but the ghats are maintained by Varanasi Municipal Corporation.