Ghats in Varanasi

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Ahilya Ghat by the Ganges, Varanasi.
Chet Singh Ghat in Varanasi.
Kedar Ghat in Varanasi.

Ghats in Varanasi are riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River Ganges. The city has 88 ghats. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremonial ghats, while two ghats, Manikarnika and Harishchandra, are used exclusively as cremation sites.[1]

Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt in the 18th century under the maratha patronage. The patrons of current ghats are Marathas, Shindes (Scindias), Holkars, Bhonsles, Peshwes (Peshwas), and Maharajas of Benares. Many ghats are associated with legends or mythologies while other ghats have private histories and users. A morning boat ride on the Ganges along the ghats is a popular visitor attraction.

Etymology[edit]

The word ghat is explained by numerous Dravidian etymons such as Kannada gatta (mountain range) Tamil kattu (side of a mountain, dam, ridge, causeway) and Telugu katta and gattu (dam, embankment).[2]

Ghat, a term used in the Indian subcontinent, depending on the context could either refer to a range of stepped-hill such as Eastern Ghats and Western Ghats; or the series of steps leading down to a body of water or wharf, such bathing or cremation place along the banks of a river or pond, Ghats in Varanasi, Dhoby Ghaut or Aapravasi Ghat.[3][4] Roads passing through ghats are called Ghat Roads.

List of ghats[edit]

The ghats as named and counted by the city of Varanasi with supplementing links, listed in ascending order according to their location (from Assi Ghat to Adi Keshava Ghat):

Part 1: from Assi Ghat to Prayag Ghat (1–41)

No. Name Picture
1 Assi Ghat Assi Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
2 Ganga Mahal Ghat (I) Ganga Mahal Ghat Assi, Varanasi.JPG
3 Lassi Ghat Rewa Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
4 Tulsi Ghat Tulasi Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
5 Bhadaini Ghat Bhadaini Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
6 Janaki Ghat Janaki Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
7 Mata Anandamai Anandamayi,Varanasi.JPG
8 Vaccharaja Ghat Vaccharaja Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
9 Jain Ghat Jain Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
10 Nishad Ghat Nishadraj Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
11 Prabhu Ghat Prabhu Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
12 Panchkota Ghat Panchakot Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
13 Chet Singh Ghat Chet Singh Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
14 Niranjani Ghat Niranjani Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
15 Mahanirvani Ghat not available
16 Shivala Ghat Shivala Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
17 Gularia Ghat Gulariya Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
18 Dandi Ghat
19 Hanuman Ghat not available
20 Prachina (Old) Hanumanana Ghat Prachin Hanuman Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
21 Karnataka Ghat Karnataka Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
22 Harishchandra Ghat Harishchandra Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
23 Lali Ghat Lali Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
24 Vijayanagaram Ghat Vijayanagaram Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
25 Kedar Ghat Kedar Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
26 Caowki (Chauki) Ghat Chauki Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
27 Ksemesvara / Somesvara Ghat Kshemeshvara Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
28 Mansarovar Ghat Mansarovar Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
29 Narad Ghat Narada Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
30 Raja Ghat rebuilt by Amrut Rao Peshwa Raja Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
31 Khori Ghat not available
32 Pandey Ghat Pandey Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
33 Sarvesvara Ghat not available
34 Digpatia Ghat Diigpatiya Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
35 Causatthi Ghat Chausatthi Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
36 Rana Mahal Ghat Ranamahal Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
37 Darbhanga Ghat Darbhanga Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
38 Munshi Ghat Munshi Ghat.JPG
39 Ahilyabai Ghat Ahilyabai Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
40 Sitala Ghat Shitala Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
41 Dashashwamedh Ghat Dashashvamedh Ghat, Varanasi.JPG


Part 2: from Prayag to Adi Keshava Ghat (42–84)

No. Name Picture
42 Prayag Ghat not available
43 Rajendra Prasad Ghat .
44 Man Mandir Ghat Man Mandir Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
45 Tripura Bhairavi Ghat Tripurabhairavi Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
46 Mir (Meer) Ghat Meer Ghat 2.JPG
47 Phuta/ Naya Ghat old site of Yajnesvara Ghat
48 Nepali Ghat not available
49 Lalita Ghat Lalita Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
50 Bauli/ Umaraogiri/ Amroha Ghat not available
51 Jalasen (Jalasayi) Ghat Jalasen Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
52 Khirki Gate not available
53 Manikarnika Ghat Manikarnika Ghat, Varanas.JPG
54 Bajirao Ghat not available
55 Scindhia Ghat Scindia Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
56 Sankatha Ghat Sanktha Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
57 Ganga Mahal Ghat (II) Benares- Temple on Ganges in state of collapse, India, ca. 1906 (IMP-CSCNWW33-OS14-59).jpg
58 Bhonsale Ghat Bhonsale Ghat (13535658844).jpg
59 Naya Ghat In Prinsep's map of 1822, this was named as Gularia Ghat
60 Genesa Ghat
61 Mehta Ghat Formally this was part of the preceding ghat, but after the construction of V.S.Mehta hospital (1962), this is known to the name of latter one.
62 Rama Ghat Ram Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
63 Jatara Ghat Jatar Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
64 Raja Gwalior Ghat Raja Gwalior Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
65 Mangala Gauri Ghat (also known as Bala Ghat) Balaji Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
66 Venimadhava Ghat part of the Pancaganga Ghat and also known as Vindu Madhava Ghat
67 Panchaganga Ghat PanchaGanga Ghat, Varanasi (2).JPG
68 Durga Ghat Durga Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
69 Brahma Ghat Brahma Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
70 Bundi Parakota Ghat Bundi Parkota Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
71 (Adi)Sitala Ghat This is an extended part of the preceding ghat
72 Lal Ghat Lal Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
73 Hanumanagardhi Ghat Hanumangarhi Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
74 Gaya/Gai Ghat Gai Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
75 Badri Nayarana Ghat Badrinarayan Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
76 Trilochan Ghat Trilochan Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
77 Gola Ghat Since the late 12th cent. this site was used as ferry point and was also known for several granaries (gold)
78 Nandesvara /Nandu Ghat Nandesvara Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
79 Sakka Ghat Sakka Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
80 Telianala Ghat Telianala Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
81 Naya/Phuta Ghat During the 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.
82 Prahalada Ghat Prahlad Ghat, Varanasi.JPG
83 Raja Ghat (Bhaisasur Rajghat) / Lord Dufferin bridge / Malaviya Bridge
84 Adi Keshava Ghat
Sant Ravidas Ghat
Nishad Ghat (divided from Prahalada)
Rani Ghat
Shri Panch Agni Akhara Ghat
Tathagat Ghat / Buddha Ghat

Popular ghats[edit]

According to the puranic sources, there are five key ghats on the riverfront which are important because of their association with a defining feature of the holy city of Kashi: Assi Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Panchganga Ghat, Rajendra Prasad Ghat, and Adi Keshav Ghat.[5]

Assi Ghat[edit]

This ghat that used to lie at the confluence of the Ganges with the dry river Asi marks the traditional southern boundary of the city. Asisangameshwar Temple at the ghat finds mention in the Kashi Khand of Skandmahapuran. This ghat is very popular because it is one of the very few ghats that is linked with the city through a wide street. It is also the major ghat that is closest to Banaras Hindu University. Assi ghat's name is derived from the river Assi. PM MODI launched water ATM on 17th Sep 2015 on the occasion of PM birthday.[6] Two lingas are worshipped at this site. Assi Ghat is described, in some of the Puranas, as the place where the goddess Durga defeated two asuras, Shumba and Nishumba. Assi ghat is also the place where Tulsidas completed the Ramcharitmanas.[7]

Dashashwamedh Ghat[edit]

Dashashwamedh Ghat is located close to the Vishwanath Temple and is the most popular ghat.[8] According to legend, Brahma performed ten Ashwamedha sacrifices here.[7] Every evening an aarti is performed at this ghat in dedication to Shiva, the goddess Ganga, Surya, Agni, as well as the whole universe.[7]

Manikarnika Ghat[edit]

The Manikarnika Ghat is one of the cremation sites.[7] There are two legends which are associated with the Manikarnika Ghat.[9] According to one, Vishnu used his Chakra to dig a pit and filled it with his perspiration while performing various penances. While watching Vishnu, one of Shiva's earrings or manikarnika fell into the pit. According to the second legend, Parvati hid her earrings at this site to keep Shiva from traveling around the world. She told him that she had lost the earrings on the banks of the Ganges. In this legend, whenever a body gets cremated at the Manikarnika Ghat, Shiva asks the soul whether it has seen the earrings.[7]

Raj Ghat[edit]

Situated near to Kashi railway station, this is one of the famous ghats of Varanasi. This is next to the Raj Ghat bridge. Famous Ravidas temple is located on this ghat. It is also famous for Pind Daan and asthi-visarjan. Famous priests of Kashi are based here. The ghats can easily be accessed through any kind of vehicles and parking facilities are also available here. This ghat is also friendly for disabled people who can not walk through narrow lanes of Kashi. They can easily reach here by car or bike.

Scindia Ghat[edit]

Early morning meditation on a Ghat on the Ganges, Varanasi

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]

Varanasi Ghat at sunrise.

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 favourite 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' (endeavour) for Lord Shiva, under the auspices of Guru Gambhirananda of Gorakhpur.

Jain Ghat or the Bachraj Ghat[edit]

Bachraj Ghat

The Jain Ghat or Bachraj Ghat is a Jain Ghat and has three Jain Temples located on the banks of the River. It is believed that the Jain Maharajas used to own these ghats. Bachraj Ghat has three Jain temples near the river's banks and one they are a very ancient temple of Tirthankara Suparswanath.

Tathagat Ghat or Buddha Ghat[edit]

Tathagat Ghat is famous Ghat of Varanasi which is situated in Sarai Mohana. Sarai Mohana is situated near Sarnath. Sarnath is that place where Tathagata Buddha gave his First Sermon to their five disciples. This ghat was named after Gautam Buddha. The word "Tathagata" is synonyms of Gautam Buddha. So it is also called Buddha Ghat. It is believed that the Buddhist People used this ghats. There is one Tathagata Buddha (Bhagavan) statue situated in the Ghat campus.

Other[edit]

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.[8] 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 practise has become controversial for the pollution it causes to the river.[10] In the 1980s, the Government of India funded a Clean Ganges 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.[11]

Pollution of ghats[edit]

Untreated sewage is a pervasive source of the river pollution in India. City municipal waste and untreated sewage is the largest source of pollution of the Ganges river near the Ghats of Varanasi.[12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rob Bowden (2003), The Ganges, ISBN 978-0739860700, Heinemann
  2. ^ Jaini, Padmanabh S. (2003). Jainism and Early Buddhism. Jain Publishing Company. pp. 523–538. ISBN 9780895819567.
  3. ^ Sunithi L. Narayan, Revathy Nagaswami, 1992, Discover sublime India: handbook for tourists, Page 5.
  4. ^ Ghat definition, Cambridge dictionary.
  5. ^ Shankar, Hari (1996). Kashi ke Ghat (1 ed.). Varanasi: Vishwvidyalaya Prakashan.
  6. ^ Mishra, Rajnish (2017). Ghats of Varanasi (1 ed.). New Delhi. p. 51. ISBN 978-1521414323.
  7. ^ a b c d e Warrier, Shrikala (2014). Kamandalu : the seven sacred rivers of Hinduism. London: Mayur University London. p. 59.
  8. ^ a b Diana Eck, Banaras - City of Light, ISBN 978-0231114479, Columbia University Press
  9. ^ Varanasi Guru (5 September 2020). "Manikarnika Kund" – via Varanasi Guru.
  10. ^ S. Agarwal, Water pollution, ISBN 978-8176488327, APH Publishing
  11. ^ Flood, Gavin: Rites of Passage, in Bowen, Paul (1998). Themes and issues in Hinduism. Cassell, London. ISBN 0-304-33851-6. pp. 270.
  12. ^ O. Singh, Frontiers in Environmental Geography, ISBN 978-8170224624, pp 246-256
  13. ^ "Ghats of Varanasi".

External links[edit]