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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 ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites.[1]

Most Varanasi ghats were rebuilt after 1700 AD, when the city was part of Maratha Empire.[2] 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.

Contents

EtymologyEdit

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).[3]

Ghat, a term used in the Indian subcontinent, depdending 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.[4][5] Roads passing through ghats are called Ghat Roads.

List of ghatsEdit

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 Keshawa Ghat):

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

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

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

No. Name Picture
42 Prayag Ghat not available
43 Rajendra Prasad Ghat .
44 Man Mandir Ghat  
45 Tripura Bhairavi Ghat  
46 Mir (Meer) Ghat  
47 Phuta/ Naya Ghat old site of Yajnesvara Ghat
48 Nepali Ghat not available
49 Lalita Ghat  
50 Bauli/ Umaraogiri/ Amroha Ghat not available
51 Jalasen (Jalasayi) Ghat  
52 Khirki Gaht not available
53 Manikarnika Ghat  
54 Bajirio Ghat not available
55 Scindhia Ghat  
56 Sankatha Ghat  
57 Ganga Mahal Ghat (II)  
58 Bhonsale Ghat  
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  
63 Jatara Ghat  
64 Raja Gwalior Ghat  
65 Mangala Gauri Ghat (also known as Bala Ghat)  
66 Venimadhava Ghat part of the Pancaganga Ghat and also known as Vindu Madhava Ghat
67 Pancaganga Ghat  
68 Durga Ghat  
69 Brahma Ghat  
70 Bundi Parakota Ghat  
71 (Adi)Sitala Ghat This is an extended part of the preceding ghat
72 Lal Ghat  
73 Hanumanagardhi Ghat  
74 Gaya/Gai Ghat  
75 Badri Nayarana Ghat  
76 Trilochan Ghat  
77 Gola Ghat Since late 12th cent. this site was used as ferry point and was also known for a number of granaries (gold)
78 Nandesvara /Nandu Ghat  
79 Sakka Ghat  
80 Telianala Ghat  
81 Naya/Phuta 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.
82 Prahalada Ghat  
83 Raja Ghat (Bhaisasur Rajghat) / Lord Duffrin bridge / Malaviya Bridge
84 Adi Keshava Ghat
Sant Ravidas Ghat
Nishad Ghat (divided from Prahalada)
Rani Ghat
Shri Panch Agni Akhara Ghat

Popular ghatsEdit

According to the puranic sources, there are five key ghats on the riverfront, important because of their association with a defining feature of the holy city of Kashi: Assi Ghat, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Panchganga Ghat and Adi Keshav Ghat.[6] .

Assi GhatEdit

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 name is given as it is the 80th ghat. PM MODI launched water ATM on 17th sep ,2015 on occasion of PM bithday.[7]

Dashashwamedh GhatEdit

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, during Dasa-Ashwamedha yajna performed 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 GhatEdit

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 GhatEdit

 
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 GhatEdit

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 GhatEdit

 
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 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.

Bachraj GhatEdit

 
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 them is a very ancient temple of Tirthankara Suparswanath.

OtherEdit

  • The Maan-Sarowar Ghat was built by Man Singh of Amber.
  • the Darbhanga Ghat was built by the Maharaja of Darbhanga
  • Tulsidas wrote Rāmacaritamānasa at Tulsi Ghat.
  • The Chet Singh Ghat, with a magnificent fort-like palace, is named after Chait Singh. The first raja of Benares was Balwant Singh, and his illegitimate son was Chet Singh. Chait Singh became Maharaja by bribing the Nawab of Awadh and secured his legacy over Balwant Singh’s nephew Mahip Narayan Singh. Chet Singh’s legacy followed by political squabbles with Governor General Warren Hastings. In the year of 1781, Warren Hastings sent his army to Chet Singh’s fort and Chet Singh managed to escape, while Hastings’s army was fighting outside the fort.[8]
  • 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 ghatsEdit

 
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.[9] 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.[10] In 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 ghatsEdit

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.[12][13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rob Bowden (2003), The Ganges, ISBN 978-0739860700, Heinemann
  2. ^ Diana Eck, Banaras: CITY OF LIGHT, ISBN 978-0691020235, Princeton University Press
  3. ^ Jaini, Padmanabh S. (2003). Jainism and Early Buddhism. Jain Publishing Company. pp. 523–538.
  4. ^ Sunithi L. Narayan, Revathy Nagaswami, 1992, Discover sublime India: handbook for tourists, Page 5.
  5. ^ Ghat definition, Cambridge dictionary.
  6. ^ Shankar, Hari (1996). Kashi ke Ghat (1 ed.). Varanasi: Vishwvidyalaya Prakashan.
  7. ^ Mishra, Rajnish (2017). Ghats of Varanasi (1 ed.). New Delhi. p. 51. ISBN 978-1521414323.
  8. ^ https://www.tripadvisor.in/Attraction_Review-g297685-d8492039-Reviews-Chet_Singh_Ghat-Varanasi_Varanasi_District_Uttar_Pradesh.html
  9. ^ Diana Eck, Banaras - City of Light, ISBN 978-0231114479, Columbia University Press
  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 linksEdit