Ganga Ghat in Varanasi

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Taj Mahal


Varanasi - The Holi City


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Ganga Ghat (Varanasi Ghat)

ASSI GHAT

Assi ghat is one of the most important ghats of Varanasi,this ghat constitutes the southern end of the city Varanasi. Many Puranas like Matsya Purna, Kurm Puran, Padma Puran, Agni Puran and Kashi Khanda have lot of references about this ghat. According to Hindu Mythology Devi Durga after killing demons Shumbha-Nishumbha threw her sword, the place where it fell resulted in the formation of a big stream known as Asi river. The place of confluence of Assi river and river Ganga is known as Assi Ghat. According Kashi Khand this ghat is referred as "Saimbeda Tirtha" a place where one can achieve Punya of all the Tirthas by taking a dip into it. Hindu people take a sacred dip here on several occasions like Surya / Chandra Grahan (Solar/Lunar Eclipse), Prabodhni Ekadashi, Makar Sankranti etc.

GANGA MAHAL GHAT

Ganga Mahal Ghat is named after a building of ex. Maharaja of Banaras towards the northern end of Asi Ghat. In fact Ghat has a little cultural significance except the Beautiful carvings depiction the Rajput and local architectural grandeur of 16th cent. A.D. However the palace was built in the first half of 20th cent. A.D.

REWAN GHAT

This ghat is of not much social and cultural signifiacne.It is an extended part of Assi Ghat,it was constructed by Lala Mishir the purohit of Maharaja(King) Ranjit Singh of Punjaab.It was earlier known as Mishir Ghat, but in 1879 it was purchased by Maharaja Rewan and from then it is known as Rewan Ghat.This building was donated to Banaras Hindu University in the later half of 2oth century.

TULSI GHAT

It is named after the great poet Tulsidas(1547-1622 A.D.) who wrote Ramcharitmanas. Earlier it was know as Lolark Ghat as evident in Gaharwal Danpatra and Girvanapadamanjari (17cent.A.D.). Later in 1941 Baldeo Das Birala made this Ghat pucca. This Ghat is associated With a number of important activities such as bath of Lolark kunda (to get sons and their long life), bath to get rid of leprosy.During Hindu lunar month of Kartika(Oct./Nov.) Krishna lila is also performed here with great conventional rites, music concerts, wrestling, and spiritual discourses are regular features here.

BHADAINI GHAT

The earliest reference of this Ghat is given by Greves(1909). It has a huge pumping set of waterworks which supply water to whole city. This Ghat has standing wall constructed by brick and stone. Bathing or religious activities are not performed here.

JANAKI GHAT

In 1870 A.D. Maharani Kunwar of Sursand(Bihar) made this Ghat. Earlier it was know as "Nagamber Ghat". After pucca constructions it is know as Janaki Ghat. It has a little Religious important but people take bath here since it is safe and Clean.

 

MATA ANANDAMI GHAT

Earlier it was know as ‘Imalia Ghat’ in 1944 Mata Anandamai purchased this area from British. She made this ghat pucca in addition to run a Ashrama. This Ashrama is involved in performing a number of religious activities here.

 

VACCHARAJA GHAT

It is made pucca by a ‘merchant named Vaccharaja during later half of 18th cent. It is believed that seventh Jain Tirthankar of Suparshvanatha was born nearby. At present most of Jain families live here. Upgoing stairs from Ganga river bank to street have three niches consist of Shiva, Ganesha and beautiful Ganga image riding on her vehicle crocodile. Occasional cultural programs, bhajan and kirtans are organized here. It is a comfortable Ghat for local people to take bath and do exercise.

 

JAIN GHAT

Before 1931 Jain Ghat was the part of Vaccharaja Ghat. Later Jain community made a pucca Ghat and named it as Jain Ghat. On the southern end Jain communities take bath and perform their regular activities, but on the northern end Mallaha (boatman) families are living giving it a different look.

 

NISHAD GHAT

Earlier it was a part of Prabhu Ghat till first half 20th cent. Now a large number of boatmen with their small boat & nets can be seen here. Ghat has one Nishad raj Temple which in fact was constructed by boatmen families only a few years back.

 

PRABHU GHAT

This Ghat was made in the early part of 20th cent by Nirmal Kumar of Bangal. Most of boatmen families are living here. Normally washermen wash clothes here. Ghat has very little social and cultural significance.

 

PANCHKOTA GHAT

On the northern end of Prabhu Ghat a palatial building and a Ghat was constructed by King of Panchakola (Bengal) in the later half of 19th cent. A.D. A series of thin stairs from Ghat lead to palatial building where two temples are situated. Ghat is pucca but the place is of lesser importance.

 

CHETA SINGH GHAT

It is a historical fortified Ghat. The place has witnessed a fierce battle between the troops of Warren Hastings and Chet Singh in 1781. A.d. The fort and Ghat were taken from British by Maharaja Prabhu Narayan Singh in the later half of 19th cent. Originally this Ghat was know at ‘Khirki Ghat; Now it has four parts known as Cheta Singh, Niranjani, Nirvani and Shivala.
Ghat has three Shiva Temple belonging to 18th cent. Till first half 20th cent it was culturally quite important. The famous Budhwa Mangal festival which is celebrated for seven days is organised here. Due to sharp current of Ganga people avoid bathing here. This Ghat has been rejuvenated by state govt. in 1958.

 

NIRANJANI GHAT

This Ghat belongs Naga Saints who established ‘Niranjani Akhara’ in 1897. Originally it was a part of Cheta Singh Ghat. Now there are four temples consisting of paduka (footprints) of Niranjani Maharaj Durga Gauri Shankar and Ganga images. The people do not take bath here owing to lesser religious importance. The Ghatabhere rejoined in 1948 by state Govt.

 

MAHANIRVANI GHAT

It is situated on north end of Nirvani Ghat. It is named after Mahanirvani sect of Naga Saints. the famous Akhara is situated here. It has four small Shiva Temple made by Nepal’s Maharaja. It is legendary that Acharya Kapil Muni of Sankhya philosophy fame lived here during 7th cent. Near Mahanirvani Akhara Mother Teresa’s Home is also situated.

 

SHIVALA GHAT

It has been important Ghat in early times. In mid nineteenth cent. It was separated into some small Ghats. At present one witnesses a colossal building constructed by Nepal King Sanjay Vikram Shah (19th cent ,A Shiva Temple and one Brahmendra Math established by Kashiraj). There is no significant cultural activities here. Only some of pilgrims and local inhabitants take bath.

 

GULARIA GHAT

This Ghat was named after a huge Gular tree which is not here at present. It was constructed Pucca by Laloo Ji Agrawal. This Ghat has a very little significance debris of old houses are scattered On of stairs.

 

DANDI GHAT

It is referred by Sherring (1968). It was made pucca by Laloo Ji Agrawal. This Ghat is predominated by the Dandi ascetics carrying stick in their hand. This Ghat is quite clean and worth taking bath.

 

HANUMAN GHAT

It is believed that great saint Tulsidas established a Hanuman Temple here during 18th cent. A.D. which made it famous as Hanuman Ghat. The ancient name of this Ghat was Rameshvaram Ghat which was established by lord Ram himself. At present it is inside boundary of Juna Akhara. Many vairagi ascetics live in the temples. The neighborhood is dominated by South Indian residents.

 

PRACHINA (OLD) HANUMAN GHAT

Both of the above (nos.19,20) ghats are made pucca by Mahant Hariharanath in 1825. This Ghat had affinity with a great bhakti saint Vallabha (C.E.1479-1531), who laid the philosophical Foundations for a great resurgence of Krishna bhakti (Eck 1882 223). His birth day is celebrated Here on 11th dark-half of Baisakha (April-May). The temple of Rama consists of five Shiva Lingams named after Rama ( Rameshvara), his two brothers (Laksmaneshvara and Bharateshvara), His wife (Siteshvara) and his monkey- servant (Hanumadishvara).

 

KARNATAKA GHAT

This Ghat was build by the state of Mysore (now know as Karnataka) in early twentieth century (c.1910). There also is a shrine of Ruru (" the Dog") Bhairava, one of the 8th Bhairavas protecting the city from 8 directions.

 

HARISH CHANDRA GHAT

This Ghat is name after a mythological King Harish Chandra, who once worked in the cremation ground here for the perseverance of truth and charity but at the end the Gods rewarded him and restored his lost thorn and his dead son. This is one of the two cremation ghats, and some times referred as Adi Manikarnika (" the original creation ground", cf.KKm 2.225-26), still there exists Adi Manikarnika Tirtha. In 1986-87 an electric crematorium was opened here, however side – by – side funeral of wood – fire is continuing. This is also the seat of old Harampapa water – tirtha.In the temples there are images of Harischandreshvara, Rohiteshvara, Adi Manikarnikeshvara & Vrddha Kedara. In 1740 Narayana Diksit, a religious guru of Peshvas renovated this Ghat and made this partly pucca.

 

LALI GHAT

In 1778 this Ghat was built pucca by Raja of Banaras. At the upper side there are temples of Lambodara Chintamani and Jyestha Vinaykas, Kirateshvara, Jayanta Shiva Lingam and Maha Laksmi. The vicinity is dominated by washermen.

 

VIJAYANAGARAM GHAT

This ghat was made pucca in 1890 by the Vijayanagaram State of South India. At the top of it is Swami Karapatri Ashrama. Close by to this building are the shrines of Nilakantha (1) and Nishpapeshvara.

 

KEDARA GHAT

This Ghat is meticulously eulogized in the KKh ( 77.8-10,47-54also KKm). This is the site of Haramapapa Tirtha. At the top exists the temple of Kedareshvara, the patron deity of the southern sacred segment. The attached shrines and sacred sites are Tarakeshvara, Gauri Kunda and Vitanka Narsimha. In late Sixteenth century Kumaraswami, a devotee of Dattatreya made a monastery attached to the Kedareshvara, temple. According to a Gahadavala inscription ( c.C.E.1100). Swapneshvara Ghat was existing close by this Ghat, but now it has no representation.

 

CAOWKI GHAT

This Ghat is famous for the huge pipala (Ficus religiosa) tree at the top of the Steps which shelters a great array of stone figures of snakes, nagas. Havell (1905 118-119) described this Ghat "under a fine old pipala-tree, there is a small shrine and a great number of old carved stones, some of Snakes, twined together like Mercuty’s caduceus, with some fine figure sculptures let into the upright face of the platform which surrounds the tree are probably relics of the early Buddhist period". Closely to this tree is the shrine of Rukmangeshvara, and at some distance lies Naga Kupa ("Snake Well"). On the occasion of festival honouring snake, Naga Pancami, falling on the 5th light half of Shravana (July –August), these shrines are especially worshipped. This Ghat was built in c. 1790.

 

KSEMESVARA / SOMESVARA GHAT  

Its old name was Nala Ghat, and was built in early eighteenth century. The followers of Kumarasvami made a monastery in 1962 at the upper – side of the steps. The shrines of Kesemesvara and Ksemaka Ganga are at the top portion of the steps. The neighborhood is dominated by Bengali residents.

 

MANASAROVARA GHAT

At the top of this Ghat there is a sacred pond, in replicated from representing the famous sacred lake of the same name lying in Tibet. This Ghat was built by Raja Mana Singh of Jaipur in c. 1585, and was rebuilt in c. 1805. The shrines of Rama, Lakshamana, and Dattatreya are in the vicinity.

 

NARADA GHAT

The old name of this Ghat is Kuvai Ghat. This was constructed by Dattatreya Swami, a monastery chief, in c. 1788. The four important images in the upper- side are Naradeshvara, Atrishvara, Vasukishvara and Dattatreyeshvara.

 

RAJA GHAT

Upto 1887 this was a famous ferry ghat. On 1st jan. 1887, Lord Duffrin bridge (road-cum-rail) was made and its importance as ferry points had lost. The bridge is named as Malaviya Bridge in 1948 after the founder of Banaras Hindu University, Pt. Madan Mohan Malaiya. In the Gahadavala inscriptions (c. 1100) this ghat is mentioned many times in terms of its glory and merit. There are four water-trithas affiliated to this ghat: Sankhya,Uddalaka, Hayagriva and Nilagriva

 

KHORI GHAT

Also known as Ganga Mahala Ghat, this was made pucca in late nineteenth century by Kavindra Narayana Singh. At the top a compound of five temples presents a magnificent view.

 

PANDA GHAT

In c. 1805 this Ghat was built in honour of a famous wrestler who established a wresting site (Akhara) there, his name was Babua Pande. The shrine of Someshwara exists close by to it. In its vicinity lies the old site of Prabhasa Tirtha, but presently it is spatially transposed at Raja Ghat.

 

SARVESVARA GHAT

Of course, this site had reference in a very early seventeenth century digest, however the overall Ghat was erected under the patronage of Mathura Pandey in late eighteenth century. The Ganga Keshava Tirtha and Serveshvara image are near the Ghat.

 

DIGPATIA GHAT

This was erected in c.1830 Raja of Digpatia (Bengal). The beautiful building along the Ghat now known as "Kashi Ashram".

 

CAUSATTHI GHAT

This Ghat is described in the KKh (61.176-177) with respect to Yogini Tirtha and Agatsya Tirtha. The number 64 (Chausatha) is attributed to directional symbolism and also association between mother-goddesses and their assistant- goddesses, of course there are other interpretations too. This Ghat had privilege to provide shelter to a great Sanskrit scholar, Madhusudana Sarsvati (c.e.1540-1623). Above the Ghat there is temple of Chausatthi Devi, but only 60 images of yogonis are there, the rest four are at different places. In c. 1670 King of Udaipur (Rajasthan) renovated this Ghat, and later it became pucca On 12th dark-half of chaitra (March-April) many pilgrims pay visit to the yogini temple and take ritual bath at this Ghat.

Another important occasion of attraction is the evening on the day of Holi-a colourful festival showing start of Chaitra-1, when homage ritual is performed at the Ghat.

 

RANA MAHALA GHAT

In fact, this is a extended part of the preceding Ghat, and also made by king of Udaipur in c.1670. At the top there is shrine of Vakratunda Vinayaka, one among the fifty-six.

 

DARABHANGA GHAT

Together with magnificent building along the Ghat and a grand Shiva temple in Nilakantha area, the king of Darabhanga (Bihar) made them in 1915. The building along the Ghat shows a massive Greek pillars style. The shrine of Kukuteshvara lies at the top.

 

MUNSI GHAT

The Ghat was built by Sridhara Narayana Munsi a finance minister in the State of Darabhanga, in 1912 as an extended part of Darabhanga Ghat. After his death in 1924 this portion Ghat named in his honour.

 

AHILYABAI GHAT

At the place of an old site of Kevelyagiri Ghat, in c. 1778 queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore made this a pucca Ghat. For the first time name of a person was added after the Ghat. She was also responsible for re-building the Vishveshvara temple, as exists at present, in 1777.

 

SITALA GHAT

In c. 1740 pt. Narayana Diksit the preceptor of Bajirao Peshava-1, made this Ghat pucca. In fact, this is the southern extension of Dasasvamedha Ghat, where exists Dasasvamedha Tirtha and images of Dasasvamedheshvara and Dasahareshvara. After the famous sitala temple there, this Ghat is called after. On the 8th light- half of lunar months of Chaitra, Vaisakha Jyestha and Asadha (March – July ) and Ashvina (Sept –Oct. ) people celebrate the festival of Sitala Asthami ("8th day" ). The same festivities also occur at (adi) Sitla Ghat in the north. Another important occasion at this Ghat is the special worship after the newly marriage, the couples and close family members come here for the Ganga worship ritual followed by rituals in the Sitala temple.

 

DASHASWAMEDH GHAT

This is the most busiest and the ancient most referred Ghat. According to the myth related to Divodasa, Lord Brahma (" the creator" in the Hind trinity gods) performed the ten-horses sacrifice (dasa-ashvamedha) at this site. The historical sources infer that at this site the revivalist Hindu dynasty of the second century, the Bhara Shiva Nagas had performed ten-horses sacrifice. The KKh (52.1-1061.38) records many verses describing glory of this Ghat. The temple of Sulatankeshvara, Brahmeshvara, Varaheshvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, the Ganga ("goddess"), and Bandi Devi are closeby at the top of the Ghat. These shrines are linked to several important pilgrimage journeys. The southern part of the Ghat was made pucca in 1740 by Bajirao Pesava-1, and late in c.1774 by Ahilyabai Holkar of lndore.

The southern part of the Ghat was made pucca in 1740 by Bajirao Pesava-1, and late in c.1774 by Ahilyabai Holkar of lndore.

 

PRAYAGA GHAT

This Ghat (old Prayaga Tirtha) together with shrine of Prayagagesvara replicates the existence of Prayaga/ Allahabad in Varanasi. Prayaga, known as "Tirtharaja" (king of Tirthas), lies at the confluence of the Ganga, the Yamuna and the invisible Sarasvati rivers. It is commonly believed that doing rituals and taking sacred bath here provide exactly the same religious merit as those at Prayaga (80 km away in the west). The merit of this ares is eulogized in the KKh (61.36-38). About the present condition, Eck (1982.228) remarks that "Today, however, the name Prayaga Ghat, while it is painted boldly on temple that sits between the two branches of Dashashvamedha, is not commonly used. And even the temple there is utterly defunct, used only by boatmen who store their gear in its sanctum". The temple and the Ghat-area were reconstructed by queen of Digpatia state (West Bengal). For the whole month of Magha (Jan-Feb.) devotees, mostly, use to take bath at this site.

 

RAJENDRA PRASAD GHAT

In 1979 in memory and honour of the first president of India (1950-1962). Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) this Ghat was renamed, and made pucca by the Municipal Corporation of Varanasi. In fact, this Ghat was northern extension of Dashashvamedha Ghat. And until late nineteenth century a stone statue of horse was at the Ghat witnessing the "ten-horses sacrifices" performed by Bhara Shiva Nagas in second century, that is how the old name "Ghoda Ghat" ("Horse Ghat"). It is believed that same horse image is shifted to Sankatmochana temple. The myth refers that servants of Bhara Shiva Nagas taken bath here.

 

MANA MANDIRA GHAT

The old name of this Ghat was Someshvara, but in c.e. 1585 when Raja Savai Mana Singh (of Amber) made his palace and Ghat this is named after him. This Ghat is "known primarily for the magnificent building with exquisite, ornately carved window carvings" (Eck 1982228). On the top of the floor is a Hindu Observatory built by Savi Jai Singh-11 (1686-1743 the other places where he established such observatories are Jaipur, Delhi, Mathura and Ujjain. Under the direction of this astrologer-minister, Jagannatha, the king built this observatory during the period of 1710-1737. There are four main astronomical instruments and renovation were made in 1850s and again in 1912 under the patronage of the King of jaipur. The closeby shrines at the top of the Ghat are Someshvara, Dalabheshvara, Rameshvara and Sthuladanta Vinayaka. In the river lies the Prabhasa Tirtha. On the occasion of Holi the festival of colour, falling on the last day of Phalguna (Feb-March), people perform celebration at the Dalabheshvara shrine.

The closeby shrines at the top of the Ghat are Somesvara, Dalabhesvara, Remesvara and Sthuladanta Vinayaka. In the river lies the Prabhasa Tirtha. On the occasion of Holi the festival of colour, falling on the last day of Phalguna (Feb.-Narch), people perform celebration at the Dalabhesvara shrine.

 

TRIPURA BHAIRAVI GHAT

This Ghat is named after the Tripura Bhairavi Shrine, a female partner of Tripureshvara whose image also exists there. Another important shrine is of Varahi, one of the nine mother-goddesses. In late eighteenth century king of Banaras and pt. Mayananda Giri had patronize to make this Ghat pucca.

 

MIRA GHAT

This Ghat represents two old sites of Jarasandheshvara and Vrdhaditya, which were converted by Mira Rustam Ali in 1735. Presently, in the name of these two shrines pilgrims throw flowers and raw-rice in the Ganga and remember them. The shrines and images in the vicinity are Vrdhaditya, Asa Vinayaka, Yajna Varahaand Vishalakshi("The Wide-Eyed ", one of the 52 Sakti-pithas of goddesses.) another important site is Dharmakupa consisting of a sacred well surrounded by five temple, and also Divodaseshvara lingam. The temple of Dharmesha is associated to the myth of Yama's (Lord of Death) power over the fate of the dead everywhere on the earth, except in Kashi. With the notion that due to entrance of low castes ("untouchables") the temple of Vishveshvara/ Vishvanatha became impure, Svami Karapatri-Ji, a very conservative Brahmin and a cult-chief, has established a " New Vishvanatha Temple" in 1956 at top of the Ghat. On the steps, under a pipala tree, the water- pouring ritual in honour of ancestors is performed.

 

PHUTA/ NAYA GHAT

This was and old site of Yajneshvara Ghat and was made pucca by Swami Maheshvarananda in mid nineteenth century. In the closeby stream lies the Vishala Gaja Tittha.

 

NEPALI GHAT

Havell (1905130) described this Ghat "where, recessed in the stone embankment, and completely covered by the river in the rainy season, is a pretty little shrine of Ganga, the Ganges, represented as a female figure seated on crocodile. Above it a stair- case leads to the Nepalese temple, a very picturesque building, half-hidden by magnificent tamarind and pippal trees. It is built chiefly of wood and brick; the double-storeyed roof, with great projecting eaves supported by brackets, is characteristic of the architecture of Nepal and of other sub-Himalayan districts".

The ghat is patronized by a Nepalese, and was built pucca in c.1902 by Nanhi Babu. The area is dominated by Nepalese residents (Nepali Khapra).

 

LALITA GHAT

This Ghat is named after the famous goddess Lalita in Kasi and also in Prayaga. The well known lingam of Ganga Keshava and shrines of Gangatitya, Kasi Devi, Lalita Devi and Bhagirath Tirtha are affiliated to this site. People believe that a glimpse of Lalita Devi brings the same reward as circumambulating the entire world.

At the top of the Ghat, close to the Nepali Ghat, as described earlier, lies the Nepali Temple built in c. 1841 under the patronage of king of Nepal and assumed that the lingam there replicates the famous Pasupatishvara at Kathmandu. The temple has some wooden carving of the erotic scenes, and all the four gateways and doors are fully decorated with geomagnetic architectural frame.

 

BAULI/ UMARAOGIRI/ AMROHA GHAT

The old name of this Ghat was Raja Rajeshvari Ghat and was made in early nineteenth century by a rich merchant, Babu Keshava Deva. In the nearby stream lies the Bramhanala tirtha.

 

JALASAYI GHAT

Somehow in diverted from this Ghat is also called as Jalasen Ghat. In fact and the followed one both are part of the cremation Ghat. The name it self indicates "putting dead body into water" as part of ritual before putting the corpse on the funeral pyre. In the mid- nineteenth century the nearby building and the Ghat were built.

 

KHIRKI GHAT

The name of the Ghat literally means "the windows" (Khirki) from where attendants can watch the cremation. Close to in 1940 Baldeo Dasa Birla has built a pilgrims rest house. Under a deserted pipal tree there are five Sati shrines.

Presently both of the above Ghats are defuntional and present a view of nuisance smoke-scape and deathscape!

 

MANIKARNIKA GHAT

Two ancient sacred waterfront sites make this Ghat, viz Sidha Vinayaka and Swargadvareshvara. Among the is popularly called as " the great cremation ground" (Mahasmashana). A myth mentions that Lord Shiva gives Taraka mantra ( "Prayer of the crossing") in the ear of the dead, therefore the form of Shiva as Tarakesvara, (the temple is at the Ghat), is propitiated whenever a Hindu dies. The name Manikarnika derives its origin from the dropping rings of Shiva during His transcendental dance here. The historical sources mention this site in the Gupta inscriptions of C.E.4th century. This is the first Ghat made pucca by the two king brothers in C.E.1302; and was rebuilt and repaired in 1730 under the patronage of Bajirao Peshava, and in 1791 Ahilyabai Holkar rebuilt the entire Ghat. Again in 1872 repairing and renovations were done.

In the vicinity are shrines of Manikarnikeshvara (a little far in the upper side of the lane), Maheshvara (open air lingam at the Ghat) and Siddha and Manikarna Vinayakas. The temple of Manikarnikeshvara is the approachable from the Ghat by taking a steeply ascending lane south of the Kunda. "The lingam of this temple-set dramatically underground at the bottom of a deep shaft – could at one time be reached by a tunnel originating on the Ghat".

There also exists a sacred pond, Chakra- Puskarini Kunda ("Discus Lotus- Pool") and Visnu’s feet impression Charana Paduka. According to puranic myth long before the Ganga arrived at the heels of Bhagiratha, the Chakra-Puskarini Kunda was present. Says the KKh(60.137-138). For the benefit of the three world king Bhagiratha brought the Ganga to the place where Manikarnika is –to Shiva’s Forest of Bliss ("Annandavana"), to Visnu’s Lotus Pool (Chakra-Puskarni Kunda). Presently the Kunda surrounded by a cast-iron railing , is some (60 ft) at the top, narrowing to about (20ft) it) at the water’s edge (Eck 1982 239). Vishnu and Laksmi images are located in the small shrine inside the Kunda on the western wall; while a series of dozen small niches containing Shiva lingams also exist there. Along the sacred route, on the Ghat itself, are the symbolically footprints of Vishnu (Charana Paduka),set in a circular marble slab. For 7,000 years Visnu was said to have performed tapasya on this spot, and through the centuries millions of Hindus have sprinkled it with the holy Ganga water and adorned it with flowers. A plate from Prinsep’s which the subtitle calls "The holiest spot in the sacred City".

The closeby place to this holy spot has been reserved for the cremation of a few selected, especially the Maharajas of Kasi (Eck 1982 246 ).

This Ghat area has ancient reputation as a cremation ground; shaya Lord Shiva Having become Time itself, I destroy the world here, O Goddess !" (Padma Purana 1.33.14). However, it is not clear when this site was fully accepted for cremation. Moreover, the NP(11.48.67), the MP (182.23b-24) and the KKh (30.84-85) describe its glory in terms of cremation and death rituals. The raised platform attached to the Ghat is used for death anniversary rituals. Between Jalashayi and Manikarnika Ghat in the stream lies fourteen water trithas, among which important are Vishnu, Bhavani, Skanda, Taraka, Avimukteshvara and Pashupati.

Towering over Manikarnika Ghat, there is a Shiva –Durga temple of Raja of Amethy (Awadh; now in Uttar Pradesh), built in c. 1850 which is distinct with its five deep- red spires and gilded pinnacles. Havell (1905 169) describes "It is built on a terrace overlooking the river, and is approached by one of those steep,staircased streets, leading from the Ghats up into the city, which suggest a town of southern ltaly or Spain. Clambering up a side staircase, you pass under the Naubata Khana,where musicians are chanting praises of the goddess with strange but not unpleasing accompaniments. On the right side of the entrance is a fine bronze lion of Durga, and on the left Shiva’s bull. The quiet and cleanliness inside are a relief from the bustle, sloppiness, and dirt, and the somewhat sordid atmosphere of more popular Benares shrines".

 

BAJIRIO GHAT

Bajiriao Peshava built this Ghat in c. 1735, that is how it is named after him, and also a palace. Havell ( 1905138) has described the condition as " Before the basement had been raised many feet, the tremendous weight of the massive masonry caused a landslip, which made the whole fabric topple over, so that the work had to be abandoned. The unfinished façade and the Ghat steps still remain…". In fact the entire structure sunk several metres into the earth since its erection (Sherring 1868 72). Later in 1830 queen Baijabai of Gwalior get it repaired and rebuilt ; she had also erected the colonnade around the Jananavapi well. In the up stream part there is a temple of Dattatreyeshvara, so that this was referred as Dattatreya Ghat. Presently this is assumed to be a part of the Scindhia Ghat.

 

SCINDHIA GHAT

Formerly it was known as Vireshvara Ghat, after the temple of same name lying at the top. In 1780 Ahilabai Holker of Indore made the Ghat pucca. In 1829 queen Baijabai had get it repaired and remodeled; and again in 1937 Daulatarao Scindhia made the entire Ghat pucca. The shrines of Vashistha and Vamadeva, and Atmavireshvara are at the top. The Paravata tirtha lies in the close by Ganga river.

 

SANKATHA GHAT

Its old name was Yameshvara Ghat after the name of the shrine. At the top in the lane lies temples of Yameshvara and harischandreshvara which might be thought of the old cremation area; still at present on the ossasion of Yama Dvitiya devotees take sacred bath. In late 18th cent. king of Baroda made this Ghat, but 1825 Beniram Pandit’s widow, known as "Panditain", and nephews built this Ghat pucca together with a building structure of the temple of Sanktha Devi. At the top of the Ghat towards the city there shrines of Katyayini and Siddheshvari goddesses; three Vinayakas Harishcandra, Chintamani and Mitra; and Vasukishvara. A new image of Santosi Mata (" Mother of Satisfaction") has recently also been built at the top. Between the Manikarnika and Scindhia Ghats there exist three water-tirthas, Viz, Uma, Sarasvata and Kamblasvetara.

 

GANGA MAHAL GHAT (2)

This is a another Ghat of the same name. This, in fact, is an old part of Yameshvara Ghat. King of Gwalior had built it in early 19th cent, and later on repaired and rebuilt by Govinda Bali Kiratankara.

 

BHONSALA GHAT

In c. 1780 Maratha king ‘Bhonsala’ of Nagpur made this Ghat, and later in 1795 this was made pucca together with the establishment of the temple of Lakshmi Narayana and a place. Two important shrines near by to the palace are of Yameshvara and Yamaditya.

NAYA GHAT

In Prinsep’s map of 1822 this was named as Gularia Ghat and perhaps was made only a few years before. This was made pucca in c. 1960.

 

GENESA GHAT

This was formerly known as Agnishvara Ghat after the Agni Tirtha in the stream. After passage of time after Peshava’s Ganesa temple this is known by this name. Important shrines at the top are Bhadreshvara and Nagesha Vinayaka. Another important water-tirtha in the stream is Iksavaku Tirtha. During 1761-1772 Madhorao Peshava made this Ghat fully pucca and also done extensive repairing. In puranic description this Ghat is referred as Vighneshvara Ghat. On 9th dark-half of Bhadrapada (Aug.-Sept.) a special celebration is held here.

 

MEHTA GHAT

Formally this saw part of the preceding Ghat, but after the construction of V.S.Mehta hospital (1962)this is known to the name of later one. The Varanasi Municipal Corporation made this Ghat pucca in 1960s. there are three water-tirtha as along this Ghat Maitravaruna, Marutta and Iksavaku.

 

RAMA GHAT

This Ghat has association with the Rama Tirtha and the shrine of Vira Rameshvara. Two other closeby water-tirth as are Kala Ganga and Tamra Varaha. The famous Vedic school of its own kind, the Sanga Veda School, is situated closeby where on the occasion of Rama's birth on 9th light-half of Chaitra(March-April) and Ganesa's birth on 4th dark-half of Bhadrapada(Aug.-sept.) special celebrations are performed. The temple of Rama and Badi-Narayana is also a notable shrine at the Ghat.

 

RAJA GWALIOR GHAT

Both of these Ghats and also Rama Ghat were erected by the patronage of Madhorao Peshava in c. 1766. In fact, they are the two ends of the same Ghat.

 

MANGALA GAURI GHAT

This was built by Balaji Peshava-I in 1735, after whom this is also known as Bala Ghat. Later in c.1807 Lakmana Bala of Gwalior repaired and renovated this Ghat. In a mid-seventeenth century it has a reference. At the top of the Ghat in temple compound there are images of Gabhastishvara, Mangala Gauri and Mangala Vinayaka. Mangala ("Auspiciousness") Gauri is one among the nine motherly white Goddesses (cf.KKh 100.68-72.At the Ghat there are shrines of typical covered structure of Raghavendreshvara, and Charchika Devi.

 

VENIMADHAVA GHAT

This is the part of the Panchaganga Ghat and also known as Vindu Madhava Ghat after the name of the famous tenth century temple. This has been eulogized in the KKh (59.120-121; also 61.243-244). The Vindu Madhava temple which was in ruin since AD 1496 was rebuilt by Maharaja of Amber in 1585 together with a palace at Mana Mandira Ghat (cf.motichand 1985;226). But in 1669 the temple was demolished by the order of Aurangazed and concerted into a mosque (still serves as landmark at this site). The image of Vindu has been re-established in the upper storey of Lakshmanabala building and still it attracts a thousand of devotees and pilgrims for glimpse and worship.

 

PANCAGANGA GHAT

This is one of the five water-front sacred most sites, and believed To be the meeting point of five drains,viz. The Ganga, the Yamuna, the Sarsvati the Kirana and the Dhupapapa, among which only the first one is visible and rest are vanished, or assumed in the form of manifestation. The merit and glory of this Ghat are described in an eleventh century text and also in the KKh (59;116-144). This was the chief resort of a great teacher of Vedanta, Ramananda (CF 1299-1411) to whom Kabira (1398-1623) a great reformist bhakti poet, accepted as guru. Ramananda's monastery is still there. Tulsi (1547-1623) was initially living (c.1580s-1590s) at this Ghat where he composed the famous writing, the Vindu-patrika ("The petition to Rama"), describing the glory of Vindu Madhava temple (VP 61-63,see allchin 1966;129-132, compare KKh 60,61).

The Ghat was made of stone steps in 1580 by Raghunatha Tandan (TodarMal), the finance secretary of the Mughal King Akbar. In c. 1735 Bajirao Peshava-I together with Sadashiv Naik rebuilt and repaired it again in 1775 renovations and repairing were done by Sripatirao Peshava, and Pant Prinidhi of Andhra. There are eight water-front sacred tirthas at the Ghat Pippalada, Vindu Makha, Mayukharka, Jnanahrda and Panchanada. There are two monasteries at the Ghat, viz. Sri and Ramannada.

At the Ghat, close to the river front, there are "the dozens of three-sided cubicle shrine rooms that open out into the river. Some contains a lingam or an image, such as the lanky bara and used primarily for yogic exercises and meditation". Sherring has vividly described this Ghat.

"The Ghat is broad and deep,and exceedingly strong. Its stairs and turrets are all of stone, and from their great number, afford accommodation to a multitude of worshippers and bathers. The turrets are low and hollow, and are employed as temples and shrines. Each one contains several deities, which are, mostly, emblems of Siva. An ordinary observer would be in ignorance of the fact these are filled with idols, and would scarely imagine that he was walking upon the top of a long succession of shrines, and over the heads of hundreds of gods. He would have to descend several steps, before discovering the sacrilege which he was ignorantly committing; but having done so, he would at once perceive that the turrets are open towards the river, and are, therefore, very convenient for devotional purposes".

The Ganga -arati (offering oil lamps) at the time of sun rise and sun set is the most attractive site and scene at this Ghat, which is performed in honour of the Ganga. The shrine of the goddess Ganga is also here. During the month of Vaisakha (April-May)& Karttika (oct.-Nov.), devotees, mostly ladies,use to take sacred bath in the morning at this Ghat special festivity and sacred bathing are performed here on the birthday of the Ganga,i.e. Vaisakha (Apr.-May), on the 7th light-half. In the month of Karttika(Oct.-Nov.) ritual of offering oil lamps to ancestors, arranged in the sky with the bamboo stands, is performed by the Ghatiyas (Ghat-priests) on behalf of the devotees who patronize the cost, or materials and rewards (in cash, or kinds, or both) for the service. There is a stone pillar with a thousand sockets stone made structure to hold the lamps lighted on the night of full moon in the month of Karttika.

DURGA GHAT

The name derived its association with the Brahmacarini Durga temple. In 1772 Narayana Diksit, a guru of Pesavas, had purchased land from local resident fishermen and built two Ghats Durga and the succeeding one, Brahma Ghat. This was rebuilt and repaired in c. 1830 by Nana Phadanavisa, a Deevan of Gwalior State, whose building at the top of the Ghat is known as Phadanavisa Wada. At the Ghat exist Marakandeya and Kharva Narsimha Tirthas, and at there is a shrine of Kharva Narsimha. On the full-moon day of the month of Karttika youngmen make show fighting and mettle.

 

BRAHMA GHAT

This is named after the temples of Brahma and Brahmesvara. The other notable tirtha and shrine are of Bhairava Tirtha and Vindu Madhava. At the Ghat exists a monastery seat,viz. Kasi Matha SansthanaSudhindra Tirtha Swami.

 

BUNDI PARAKOTA GHAT

Formerly it was known as Raja Mandira Ghat. In c. 1580 king of Bundi, Raja Surajana Hada made this Ghat; and it was made pucca in mid nineteenth century. In its vicinity at the top exists the shrines of Shesa Madhava, Karnaditya and Laksmi Narsimha.

 

(Adi)SITALA GHAT

This is an extended part of the preceding Ghat, also made by Hada in c. 1580, but later in 1772 was repaired and rebuilt by Narayana Diksit. This Ghat is named after the old temple of Sitala, known as "Badi" (elder) sitala. The other goddess-shrines in the vicinity are of Nageshvari Devi ("Snake Goddess") and Narayani. Karanaditya Tirtha at the bank and Shankha Madhava are other sacred spots. There are three Sati stones of memory in the vicinity. Like that of the earlier Sitala Ghat, on every 8th light-half of the months of Chaitra, Vaisakha, Jyestha and Asadha (March-July) festivities take place in honour of mother goddess.

 

LALA GHAT

This Ghat was erected by a rich merchant in c. 1800 after whose name it is now known. As part of this Ghat in 1935 Baldeo Das Birla has built a small Ghat called as Gopi Govinda Ghat at the top of which exists a pilgrims'rest house made by him.

 

HANUMANGARDHI GHAT

This was perhaps founded in late nineteenth century. It represents the famous site of Hanumangardhi in Ayodhya (the birth palce of Rama). Hanuman is the monkey assistant to Lord Rama. The Ganga Akhara (wrestling site), and a Sati-stone are along the Ghat. The other shrines in the vicinity are Gopi Govinda and Goprekshevara.

 

GAYA/GAI GHAT

This Ghat records a reference in a 17th century , the Grivana Manjari. In 12th cent. Varanasi this was considered to be the southern limit of the city; in the vicinity still exists the symbolic relic of that period, Patana Darvaja. At the Ghat there is a huge image of a cow (gaya/gai), symbolizing the earth, that is how the Ghat is known as Gaya Ghat. In early 19th cent. the Ghat was made pucca by Balabai Sitole of Gwalior. At the top of the Ghat, closeby there are four images Bageshvari Devi, Nageshvari Devi("Snake Goddess"), Mukharnirmalika Devi("Pure-Faced Goddess") and Samhara Bhairava.

 

BADRI NAYARANA GHAT

This Ghat was earlier known as Mahatha/Matha, or Balabai Ghat Balabai of Gwalior had patronize to make this Ghat pucca in early 19th century. Later on the Municipal Corporation of Varanasi had get it repaired and renovated. The associated sacred shrines are Nageshavara tirtha, Nageshvara, Nagesha Vinayaka and Nara-narayana Keshava. The last shrine is originally at Badrinatha, that it how the name of Ghat derives Badri (the site)and Narayana (the deity). On the occasion of full-moon day of Pausha(dec.-jan.), a special festivity in honour of Vishnu in the form of Nara-Narayana is celebrated. Also, on 3rd light-half of Vaishakha(Apr.-May) there takes a sacred bath ceremony.

 

TRILOCANA GHAT

The name derives after famous image of Shiva, Trilochana ("Three-Eyed"), whose lingam is known as Trilochanehsavara. The KKh (75.12, 18-10, 72-74) and other contemporary digests have composed many metres in glory of this Ghat and its associated water tirtha, Pilapippala Tirtha. In the Gahadavala rule, c.C.E. 1100, this was a very famous site for sacred bath and rituals. The renovations and repairings were done by Narayana Dikshit in c. 1772. Later around 1795 Nathu Bala of Pune made the Ghat pucca.

 

GOLA GHAT

Since late 12th cent. this site was used as ferry point and was also known for a number of grainaries(gola), from where the name Gola Ghat devired. However, after opening the bridge at Raja Ghat in 1887 the site had lost its importance. At this Ghat there is a Puranic reference of Pisegila Tirtha, while at the top exits the shrine of Burgu Keshava (Vishnu).

 

NANDESAVARA /NANDU GHAT

This Ghat in early 20th cent. by the local neighbourhood residents. There appears an Akhara (wrestling site) of the same name.

 

SAKKA GHAT

It has reference to late 18th cent, and it has a reference of an old water-front sacred spot, Pranava Tirtha. Close to the Ghat towards the top is HaridashanSavashrama Trust (Mukhimgung). Most parts of the Ghat are occupied by washermen.

 

TELIANALA GHAT

It has reference to late 18th cent.; and known for an ancient sacred spot, Hiranyagarbha Tirtha. Legends say that the area was dominated by the oilpressing caste (Teli) settled along a small drain (nala) meeting here, that is how the name derived.

NAYA/PHUTA GHAT

In medieval digests a sacred water-front site, Gopratara Tirtha, and an image of Gopratateshvara are referred at this Ghat. During 18th century the Ghat – area became deserted (Phuta), but later on it was renovated. This way the Ghat was formerly known as phuta, and later as Naya. In 1940 Narsingh Jaipala Chainput-Bhabhua(Bihar) made this Ghat pucca.

PRAHALADA GHAT

This is the named after Prahalada, a great mythological devotee of Lord Visnu. In 11th-12th cent. the Ghadavala inscriptions mentioned this Ghat. This is spread over a longer distance. In 1937 with the construction of a new Nishada Ghat in the centre (where exists Satsanga Akhara), now the Ghat is divided into two parts the southern and northern. In the southern part exists the shrines of Prahaladeshvara, Prahalada Keshava, Vidara Narsimha, and Varada and Pichindala Vinayakas. Around the northern site exists Mahishasura Tirtha, Svaralingeshvara,Yajna Varaha and Shivaduti Devi.

On 14th light- half of Vaishakha (April-May), a grand festive celebration to honour the appearance of Narsimha ("Lion-Man" incarnation of Lord Visnu; i.e. 4th among the ten) is performed on massive scale in the temple of Prahaladeshvara.

ADI KESHAVA GHAT

In Ghadavala inscription (c. C.E. 1100) this Ghat was referred as Vedeshvara Ghat. This is assumed to be the oldest and the original (Adi) site of Lord Vishnu ( Keshava). The temple complex of Adi Keshava has a pleasant pastoral setting on he bank above the confluence of the Varuna and the Ganga rivers. Among the oldest puranic listings of sacred sites in the city, this is one of them. This sacred spot is fully eulogized in the MP (185-68), the VP (3.34-50), the KKh (84.109; see also 51.44-82). This was the most favorite holy site of the Gahadavala kings, as evident from the Gahadavala inscription that" a great number of regal ritual occasions in Varanasi included the worship of Adi Keshava or a dip in the Ganga at the Varuna confluence (Niyogi 1959 app. B as in Eck 1982233). The Ghat was made pucca in 1790 by a Divan of Scindhia State.

According to a folk legend the five most sacred water-front holy spots represent the bodily parts of the Lord" Asi is the head; Dashashvamedha is the chest; Manikarnika is the naval; Panchaganga is the thighs; and Adi Keshava is the feet" (Eck 1982233). This reminds that Vianu first placed his holy feet here in Varanasi. His foot prints (Charana Paduka) in the Adi Keshava temple symbolize that occasion; another foot prints are at Manikarnika Ghat.

Bathing at confluence of the Varuna and the Ganga and paying visit to Sangameshvara ("Lord of Confluence") give a special religious merit, as referred in the Linga Purana (92.87-89)

"An excellent lingam has been installed by Brahama at this confluence. It is know in the world as Sangameshvara. If a man shall become pure taking his bath at the confluence of the divine river and then worship Sangamesha, whence need he fear rebirth".

The Sangameshvara lingam is located in temple attached to Adi Keshava; and from the pavilion of Adi Keshava, one can look down into the courtyard of the Sangameshvara. Closeby to it is the Brahmeshvara lingam (a four- faced lingam) and believed to be established by Brahma ("The Creator").

Between Prahalada and Adi Keshava Ghat (from south to north) there are ten water-tirthas lying along the bank Shankha Madhava, Sasa, Lakshminarsimha, Gopigovinda, Vindara Narsimha, Yajna Varaha, Mara- Narayana, Vamana, Pranava and Dattatreyeshvara. And between Adi Kesava Ghat and confluence of the Varuna there are twelve water-tirthas Aditya Kesava, Ambarisa, Narada, Garuda, Mahalaksmi, Padma,Gada, Chakra, Shankha, Ksirabdhi, Svetadvipa and padodaka.

In the vicinity of Adi Keshava temple are located two Vinayakas Chinatamani ("relieving worry") and Kharva ("the dwarf"), and jnana Keshava ("wisdom"), Prayaga lingam and Keshavaditya ("Keshava-Sun").

The birth day of Vamana ("the Dwarf"; 5th incarnation of Visnu among the ten) is celebrated on massive scale in the Adi Keshava temple on 12th light- half of Bhadrapada (Aug. Sept.).

At the time of sunrise and sun set both, one can see the natural beauty of reflecting colourful light in the Ganga, in the morning the reflection of sunlight on the palatial buildings and in the evening the shadows of those building in Ganga make the scene unique which is more an aspect of experience than reading about it.