Ghats in Varanasi

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Ahilya Ghat by the Ganges, Varanasi.

Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of River Ganga. The city has nearly 100 ghats.[1] Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while a few are used exclusively as cremation sites.[2]

Most Varanasi ghats were built after 1700 AD, when the city was part of Maratha Empire.[3] The patrons of current ghats are Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, and Peshwes (Peshwas). Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while many ghats are privately owned. Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitors attraction.

List of ghats[edit]

Chet Singh Ghat in Varanasi.
Kedar Ghat in Varanasi.
Jain Ghat in Varanasi
On The River Benares, 1883

The ghats as named and counted by the city of Varanasi are as follows:[4]

  1. Mata Anandamai Ghat
  2. Assi Ghat
  3. Ahilya Ghat
  4. Adi Keshava Ghat
  5. Ahilyabai Ghat
  6. Badri Nayarana Ghat
  7. Bajirao Ghat
  8. Bauli /Umaraogiri / Amroha Ghat
  9. Bhadaini Ghat
  10. Bhonsale Ghat
  11. Brahma Ghat
  12. Bundi Parakota Ghat
  13. Chaowki Ghat
  14. Chausatthi Ghat
  15. Cheta Singh Ghat
  16. Dandi Ghat
  17. Darabhanga Ghat
  18. Dashashwamedh Ghat
  19. Digpatia Ghat
  20. Durga Ghat
  21. Ganga Mahal Ghat (I)
  22. Ganga Mahal Ghat (II)
  23. Gaay Ghat
  24. Gauri Shankar Ghat
  25. Genesha Ghat
  26. Gola Ghat
  27. Gularia Ghat
  28. Hanuman Ghat
  29. Hanumanagardhi Ghat
  30. Harish Chandra Ghat
  31. Jain Ghat
  32. Jalasayi Ghat
  33. Janaki Ghat
  34. Jatara Ghat
  35. Karnataka State Ghat
  36. Kedar Ghat
  37. Khirkia Ghat
  38. Shri Guru Ravidass Ghat[5]
  39. Khori Ghat
  40. Lala Ghat
  41. Lali Ghat
  42. Lalita Ghat
  43. Mahanirvani Ghat
  44. Mana Mandira Ghat
  45. Manasarovara Ghat
  46. Mangala Gauri Ghat
  47. Manikarnika Ghat
  48. Mehta Ghat
  49. Meer Ghat
  50. Munshi Ghat
  51. Nandesavara Ghat
  52. Narada Ghat
  53. Naya Ghat
  54. Nepali Ghat
  55. Niranjani Ghat
  56. Nishad Ghat
  57. Old Hanumanana Ghat
  58. Pancaganga Ghat
  59. Panchkota
  60. Pandey Ghat
  61. Phuta Ghat
  62. Prabhu Ghat
  63. Prahalada Ghat
  64. Prayaga Ghat
  65. Raj Ghat built by Peshwa Amrutrao
  66. Raja Ghat / Lord Duffrin bridge / Malaviya Bridge
  67. Raja Gwalior Ghat
  68. Rajendra Prasad Ghat
  69. Ram Ghat
  70. Rana Mahala Ghat
  71. Rewan Ghat
  72. Sakka Ghat
  73. Sankatha Ghat
  74. Sarvesvara Ghat
  75. Scindia Ghat
  76. Shivala Ghat
  77. Shitala Ghat
  78. Sitala Ghat
  79. Somesvara Ghat
  80. Telianala Ghat
  81. Trilochana Ghat
  82. Tripura Bhairavi Ghat
  83. Tulsi Ghat
  84. Vaccharaja Ghat
  85. Venimadhava Ghat
  86. Vijayanagaram Ghat
  87. Samne Ghat

Popular ghats[edit]

Dashashwamedh Ghat[edit]

Dashashwamedh Ghat is located close to Vishwanath Temple, and is probably the most spectacular ghat. Two Hindu mythologies are associated with it: According to one, Lord Brahma created it to welcome Lord Shiva. According to another, Lord Brahma sacrificed ten horses in a yajna here. A group of priests daily perform in the evening at this ghat "Agni Pooja" (Worship to Fire) wherein a dedication is made to Lord Shiva, River Ganges, Surya (Sun), Agni (Fire), and the whole universe.

Manikarnika Ghat[edit]

Two legends are associated with Manikarnika Ghat.[citation needed] According to one, it is believed to be the place where Lord Vishnu dug a pit with his Chakra and filled it with his perspiration while performing various penances. While Lord Shiva was watching Lord Vishnu at that time, the latter's earring ("manikarnika") fell into the pit. According to the second legend, in order to keep Lord Shiva from moving around with his devotees, his consort Goddess Parvati hid her earrings, and asked him to find them, saying that they had been lost on the banks of the Ganges. Goddess Parvati's idea behind the fib was that Lord Shiva would then stay around, searching forever for the lost earrings. In this legend, whenever a body gets cremated at the Manikarnika Ghat, Lord Shiva asks the soul whether it has seen the earrings.

According to ancient texts, the owner of Manikarnika Ghat bought King Harishchandra as a slave and made him work on the Manikarnika at Harishchandra Ghat. Hindu cremations customarily take place here, though a majority of dead bodies are taken for cremation to the Manikarnik Ghat. According to other sources that Manikarnik Ghat is named after Jhansi ki Rani Laxmibhai.

Scindia Ghat[edit]

Early morning meditation on a Ghat on the Ganges, Varanasi
Varanasi Ghat at sunrise.

Scindia Ghat also known as Shinde Ghat borders Manikarnika to the north, with its Shiva temple lying partially submerged in the river as a result of excessive weight of the ghat’s construction about 150 years ago. Above the ghat, several of Kashi’s most influential shrines are located within the tight maze of alleys of Siddha Kshetra (Field of Fulfillment). According to tradition, Agni, the Hindu God of Fire was born here. Hindu devotees propitiate at this place Vireshwara, the Lord of all heroes, for a son.

Maan-Mandir Ghat[edit]

Mana-Mandir Ghat: Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur built this Ghat in 1770, as well as the Jantar Mantar equipped with ornate window casings along with those at Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain, and Mathura. There is a fine stone balcony in the northern part of the ghat. Devotees pay homage here to the lingam of Someswar, the Lord of the Moon.

Lalita Ghat[edit]

Lalita Ghat: The late King of Nepal built this Ghat in the northern region of Varanasi. It is the site of the Ganges Keshav Temple, a wooden temple built in typical Kathmandu style,The temple has an image of Pashupateshwar, a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Local festivals including musical parties and games regularly take place at the beautiful Assi Ghat which is at the end of the continuous line of ghats. It is a favorite site of painters and photographers. It is here at the Assi Ghat that Swami Pranabananda, the founder of Bharat Sevasharam Sangh,attained 'Siddhi' (fulfilment/success) in his 'Tapasya' (endeavor) for Lord Shiva, under the auspices of Guru Gambhirananda of Gorakhpur.

Other[edit]

Man Singh of Amber built Maan-Sarowar Ghat. Maharaja of Darbhanga built Darbhanga Ghat. Tulsidas wrote Rāmacaritamānasa at Tulsi Ghat. Devout Jains visit Bachraj Ghat in particular because it has three Jain temples near the river's banks.

The headquarters of the Sri Kashi Math Samsthan, a spiritual school followed by the Konkani speaking Goud Saraswat Brahmins, is located in Brahma Ghat.

Cremation on Ghats[edit]

Cremations in progress at Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi.

In Hindu traditions, cremation is one of the rites of passage and the Ghats of Varanasi are considered one of the auspicious locations for this ritual.[6] At the time of the cremation or "last rites," a "Puja" (prayer) is performed. Hymns and mantras are recited during cremation to mark the ritual. The Manikarnika and Harishchandra Ghats are dedicated to the cremation ritual. Annually, less than 2 in 1000 people who die in India, or 25,000 to 30,000 bodies are cremated on various Varanasi Ghats; about an average of 80 per day. This practice has become controversial for the pollution it causes to the river.[7] In 1980s, the Government of India funded a Clean Ganga initiative, to address cremation and other sources of pollution along the Ghats of Varanasi. In many cases, the cremation is done elsewhere and only the ashes are dispersed into the river near these Ghats.[8]

Pollution of Ghats[edit]

Untreated sewage is a pervasive source of river pollution in India. City municipal waste and untreated sewage is the largest source of pollution of Ganges river near the Ghats of Varanasi.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pollution clogs India’s sacred Ganges river
  2. ^ Rob Bowden (2003), The Ganges, ISBN 978-0739860700, Heinemann
  3. ^ Diana Eck, Banaras: CITY OF LIGHT, ISBN 978-0691020235, Princeton University Press
  4. ^ "Ghats of Ganga at Varanasi". Department of Culture, Varanasi. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "A spacious Guru Ravidass Ghat has been built at the place.". 
  6. ^ Diana Eck, Banaras - City of Light, ISBN 978-0231114479, Columbia University Press
  7. ^ S. Agarwal, Water pollution, ISBN 978-8176488327, APH Publishing
  8. ^ Flood, Gavin: Rites of Passage, in: Bowen, Paul (1998). Themes and issues in Hinduism. Cassell, London. ISBN 0-304-33851-6. pp. 270.
  9. ^ O. Singh, Frontiers in Environmental Geography, ISBN 978-8170224624, pp 246-256

External links[edit]