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Ghats of Varanasi

Ghats of Varanasi

Assi Ghat :-

This is most popular ghat of Varanasi. It defines the tradition and culture of Varanasi. It involves the south region of the city. This Ghats has early literature in various books like Purana, kurma purana, matsya purana, kasha khanda, and padma purana. There is a belief or myth that Goddess Durga staining the demons namely Shumbha-Ashumbha had thrown her sword and where the sword had fallen in that place there developed a big stream of water that is known as Assi River. So this Assi River as a part of Ganga become famous as Assi ghat.

Assi ghat, the southernmost ghat, is one of the famous holy ghat in Varanasi. This ghat has a great importance in Hinduism. Pilgrims all-round the globe use to take bath before paying their homage to lord Shiva. The place is named Assi ghat as it is located at the union of the River Ganga and Assi River. A huge Shiva lingam under the peepal tree and also an Asisangameshwar lingam in a small temple are there. This ghat is also famous for the significant events like solar and lunar eclipse, Probodhoni Ekadashi and Makar Shakranti. Assi ghat is one of the most famous and visited Ghats of the Varanasi for tour and tourism. Tulsi Das, an Indian poet had written the greatest work of Hindi literature i.e. Ram charitmanas here. Now there is Sangeet Sangoshthi initiated by new NDA government and PM Modi especially for rejuvenation of decaying Ghats. There has been several restoration works since the new government has taken place. In Sangeet Sangoshthi Musicians of Varanasi and emerging artists perform well engaging tourists for longer duration. Many Foreign Ministers have been guests at Sangeet Sangoshthi of Assi Ghat. From Mr. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese PM to Mr. Narendra Modi have participated in Sangeet Sangoshthi and Aarti at Assi Ghats. At the home-coming of any foreign dignitary these Ghats are tight with security and make hardly visited for locals and even tourists.

Adi Keshava Ghat or Raj Ghat :-

This ghat of Varanasi is referred as Vedeshwara Ghat in Ghadavala inscription. This is assumed to be the oldest and the original (Adi) site of Lord Vishnu (Keshava). The ghat is located at the confluence of Ganga and Varuna rivers. AdiKeshav Vishnu Temple is a holy shrine here. AdiKeshav Ghat holds immense religious and historical importance. These days it is called as Raj Ghat as well. The ghat was made ‘pucca’ by Divan of Scindia. The ghat is on the bank of river Varuna and the Ganga. There is also a temple of Lord Adi Keshava, said to be one incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is unique as it is the only temple that has Lingam even though it belongs to Lord Vishnu.

Ahilyabai Ghat :-

At the place of an old site of Kaivalyagiri Ghat, Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore made it a ‘pucca’ ghat in 1778. She also re-built Vishveshwara temple in 1777. Ahilyabai Ghat is important because it is named after its constructor Ahilyabai Holkar which is first of its kind as neither of Ghats has been named after a human name.

Bhadaini Ghat :-

This Bhadaini ghat was founded in year the 1909 by Greves, the British Resident. This ghat supplies water to whole Varanasi City. Bathing and other ritualistic activities are not allowed here. There is wall made of brick at the corners of the ghat.

Bhonshala Ghat :-

In 1780, Maratha king Bhonsale of Nagpur made this ghat and thus named after him. Two important shrines nearby Bhonsale Ghat are Yameshwara temple and Yamaditya temple. Entry of women to Yameshwara Temple is restricted as they are considered to be delicate while temple traditions have preserved a culture that needs courage and vigour as Yama is the Lord of Death. This ghat is another example of contributions of Maratha rulers to the very lifeline of Varanasi. It is nice to see all supreme gods of Hindu Mythology are seen on any of Ghats. There is no ghat that does not have any temple or shrine around it. From birth to death all are important such is the diversity of Indian Culture

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Cheta Singh Ghat :-

This ghat has a historical importance. This place is a witness to the battle between Warren Hastings troops and Cheta Singh in 1781 A.D. In the 19th century this ghat was taken over by Maharaja Prabhu Narayan from the British. In past, this ghat was also called Khirkighat, but now it is divided into 4 parts namely Niranjani, Nirvani, Shivala, and Cheta Singh Ghats.

Chausatthi Ghat :-

This ghat provided shelter to a great Sanskrit scholar, Madhusudana Saraswati. The temple of Chausatthi Devi is at the top of the ghat. Located next to DigpatiyaGhat and to the south of Dashaswamedh Ghat, Chausatthi Ghat is named after the Chausath Yogini Temple. Chausath in Hindi means sixty four (64).

Dandi Ghat :-

This ghat was made pucca by Lalooji Aggarwal. This ghat was recognized by Sherring in 1968. This ghat is very clean for taking bath. There is idol of Dandi ascetics with the sticks carrying in their hand on this ghat.

Since the temple enshrines statues of sixty four ‘yoginis’ (lady assistants of Goddess Kali), it is called Chausatthi. The Chausath Yogini (Chausatthi) Temple is highly revered by the Hindus but non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple. Hindu devotees reach the temple on the new moon day of the month of Chaitra month to take a holy dip in the Ganga. The steps of the Chausatthi Ghat lead to Chausath Yogini Temple on the top of the Chausatthi Ghat. Hence, this ghat is a bathing ghat with great religious and historical importance.

Darbhanga Ghat :-

Darbhanga Ghat is between two famous Ghats of Varanasi- Chousatthi Ghat and Babua Pandey Ghat on the bank of the Ganges. This ghat is primarily dedicated to various religious rituals related to cremation. A magnificent building and a grand Shiva Temple in Nilakantha area exists along the ghat. The shrine of Kukuteshwara lies at the top of Darbhanga Ghat. Darbhanga Ghat has an important place in Varanasi tourism. People from across the country come to perform last rites of their dear ones.

Dashashvamedha Ghat :-

Dashashvamedha ghat is the most important ghat in Varanasi. This ghat is one of the most visited ghat and probably the most spectacular ghat. The ghat has retained its beauty with the various Hindu God temples and religious sites. And the thing which attracts huge crowd is the Aarti of the Ganga. At the evening time this Ghat gives a heavenly look.

In Aryan culture Dashashvamedha Yajna would be performed to claim supremacy of one ruler on other. Dash in Sanskrit means 10and Ashwa mean Horses thus the Dashashvamedha Ghat is the site of performance of Dashvamedha Yajna in which 10 horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma. Sacrifice in ancient times didn’t always mean killing of animals. Sacrificed horses were left to roam all over empire. Those who chose to pass the horses were believed to have accepted the supremacy of Performer Ruler. Those who didn’t want to accept they tied the horses and a battle would be fought between the rulers. Who won the battle they ruled over other.

Durga Ghat :-

This famous ghat of Varanasi on the banks of the Ganges is associated with the Brahmacharini Durga temple. Brahmacharini in Hindu Mythology translates to celibate Goddess. At the ghat exists Markandeya & Kharva Nrisimha Tirthas. Durga Ghat was built by Narayan Dikshit, a saintly figure, in 1772. Durga Ghat is known for its religious importance and offers definitely its bit in Varanasi tourism.

Gularia Ghat :-

This ghat derived its name from a Gular tree, a species of Deciduous Forests found in India. This tree is not present at this time. LalooJi Aggarwal made this ghat pucca. There is debris of old houses present on this ghat on the stairs.

Ganga Mahal Ghat(I) :-

Ganga Mahal Ghat derived its name on the palace of former Maharaja of Banaras at the North side of the Assi ghat. There is very beautiful carving on the ghat that signifies the grandeur of Rajputas’ living and local architectural culture of 16th century A.D. This palace of Maharaja of Banaras was built in 20th century A.D.

Gai Ghat :-

The reference of Gai ghat is found in the text of Girivana Manjari, a 17th century treatise. A huge image of a cow (gaya-gai), symbolizing the Mother Earth, exists at the ghat. Due to cow image, this ghat is termed as Gai Ghat. In the ancient times, Gai ghat was indicative of southern-most limit of Varanasi city; in the vicinity still there exists the symbolic relic of that period, Patna Darwaja named so because people from Varanasi marched to Patna the Capital of Bihar from this Gate. During early 19th century, the ghat was made 'pucca' by Balabai Sitole of Gwalior.

Gola Ghat :-

Since late 12th century, Gola Ghat was being used as a ferry point and was also known for a number of granaries and warehouses. The semi circular or egg-like shape of the granaries gave the ghat its name. This site was an important commercial place prior to construction of the bridge at Raja Ghat in 1887. Gola Ghat finds mention in Puranic literature as Pisegila Tirtha. At the top of Gola Ghat exists the shrine of Bhrigu Keshava (Lord Vishnu). Still boat keepers take it as ferrying point for either banks of Ganges.

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Hanuman Ghat :-

This ghat is very famous and popular as it derived its name from the famous Hanuman temple established here by saint Tulsi das in 18th century A.D. In ancient times, Lord Rama established this ghat and hence, this ghat then called by the name Ramesvaram ghat. Now at this time, it is a well-known Juna Akhara. Lots of ascetics and hermits are living in this temple. At the side of this ghat, there are residences of South Indians.

So there are lots of other more Ghats in the Varanasi city to explore and people have more to know about this Varanasi city.

Harish Chandra Ghat :-

This ghat is named after a mythological king Harish Chandra, who once worked for the perseverance of truth and charity in the cremation ground. This ghat is one of the famous and oldest ghat and also one of the two cremation Ghats in Varanasi. In Hindu mythology it is believed that if a person is cremated at this ghat, that person gets salvation or “moksha”. This ghat see hundreds of cremation a day accept in rainy season when Flood water poses a risk to performing elaborate last rites

Janaki Ghat :-

Janaki ghat is built by the Maharani Kunwar of Sursand (Bihar) in 1870 A.D. In the past year, this ghat is named as "Nagamber ghat". Later on, there is pucca construction on this ghat and this ghat then named as Janaki ghat. People bath here as it has Religious importance but if it is safe and clean. Janaki Ghta has its name from Goddess Sita whose another name was Janaki as she was the daughter of King of Janak.

Jain Ghat :-

The previous name of Jain ghat is Vaccharaja ghat, but in 1931 this ghat was taken over by the Jain community and they made a pucca construction on that ghat, hence named as Jain ghat. Jain community perform religious activities on that ghat and also take bath on the South region of the ghat, but on the Northern region of this ghat, lives Mallaha (boatman) families. This gives different bent to the Jain ghat.

Khori Ghat :-

This ghat is also known as Ganga Mahal Ghat. Five temples on top of Khori Ghat are worth noticing. View of the ghat and the Ganges from these temples is magnificent.

Kshemeshwara Ghat :-

Kshemeshwara Ghat is also called as Someshwara Ghat. In ancient times, this ghat was known as NalaGhat. On the top of the Someshwara Ghat is a temple of Lord Shiva, known as Kshemeshwar Mahadev. Mythologically, one of the 'Ganas' of Lord Shiva, named Kshemak, installed 'Lingam' at this place. The Kshemeshwar Lingam is located in a house belonging to Kumar swamy Mutt of Kedar Ghat. The followers of Kumara swami made a monastery in 1962 at the upper side of the stairs.

Lalita Ghat :-

This ghat is named after the famous goddess Lalita in Kashi. Goddess Lalita is one of the incarnations of Goddess Durga. Though the ghat is made of red sandstones but continuous negligence in upkeep has resulted in various fissures and filth all around. This ghat is dotted with several temples. The well-known 'Lingam' of Ganga Keshav and shrines of Gangatitya, Kashi Devi, Lalita Devi and Bhagirath Tirtha are affiliated to Lalita Ghat.

Besides Religious importance Lalita Ghat has prominence from the perspective of Varanasi tourism. Varanasi Tourism Department have identified Lalita Ghat among the seven most prominent Ghats of Varanasi. Lalita Ghat is considered as the constellation of Ghats from Vishnu Ghat to Rajrajeshwari Ghat.

Mata Anandamai Ghat :-

In earlier year, this Ghat was popular as 'lmalia Ghat', but in the ruling of British in 1944, Mata Anandamai bought this area from British so its name was then changed into Mata Anandamai Ghat. She built this Ghat as pucca and also run an Ashrama. Lots of religious activities were performed in this Ashrama. There they teach Yoga to spiritualism and many things related to Culture and Religion.

Mahanirvani Ghat :-

This Ghat is very popular as famous Akhara is present here. The name is derived from the Naga Saint as Mahanirvani. This Ghat is located on the North side of the Nirvani Ghat. The Maharaja of Nepal made 4 Shiva temples here on this Ghat. This Ghat is also famous because the Acharya Kapil Muni of Sankhya lived on this Ghat in 7th century A.D. who is a legendary. Also near this Ghat, the home of Mother Teresa is situated.

Manikarnika Ghat :-

This Ghat is well known for being a place of cremation. Manikarnika Ghat is the oldest Ghat of Varanasi and also the main cremation Ghat of Varanasi. In Hindu mythology, it is believed that the Ghat is especially sacred and the people cremated here receive moksha. Here manikarnaika kund is very famous, and this kund was built by Lord Vishnu. At this place Goddess Parvati’s ears fell after Lord Vishnu dissected her corpse into pieces. Thus the name Karnika came as Karna translates to Ears in Sanskrit Language. This Ghat finds almost 100-500 cremations per day besides minimum 50 on usual days.

Mehta Ghat :-

The Ghat got the name after the construction of V.S. Mehta hospital in 1962 AD. The Varanasi Municipal Corporation made Mehta Ghat 'pucca'. Earlier, Mehta Ghat used to be a part of Rama Ghat. In 1960, Ballabhrama Saligarama Mehta of Bengal (Kolkata), an affluent merchant, bought out this area, constructed a hospital here in 1962 AD and established Sangaveda Vidyalaya to foster Sanskrit and 'sanskriti' (culture). There are three Water-Tirthas along Mehta Ghat: Maitravaruna, Marutta and Ikshavaku. This area is dominated by Maratha people.

Niranjani Ghat :-

This Ghat originally was a part of Cheta Singh Ghat. The name of this Ghat derived from Niranjani Akhara which was established by Naga Saint in 1897. This Ghat is also famous for 4 temples at its bank that has paduka (footprints) of Niranjani Maharaj, Ganga images, and Durga Gauri Shankar. This Ghat has not much religious importance and people are not used to bath here.

Nepali Ghat :-

Nepali Ghat is a part of Lalita Ghat. The Ghat was patronized by a Nepalese. In 1902 AD, Nanhi Babu built the Ghat 'pucca'. The area is predominantly inhabited by the Nepalese residents and is called as 'Little Nepali Island'. The stair-case from Nepali Ghat leads to Nepali Temple, popularly known as Kathwala Temple because it is of wooden built of Nepalese Architectural Style.It was built in 1843 AD as per traditional Nepalese temple architecture by the then King of Nepal Rana Bahadur Shah. Even the workers who carved this temple were brought from Nepal.

Nepali Ghat is frequented by the tourists and the pilgrims to view Nepali Temple. The temple, built of termite-resistant woods from Nepal, is an exquisite carved in woodwork. The temple is surrounded by tamarind and peepal trees. Striking resemblance of the Nepali Temple with Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is noteworthy. The Shiva Lingam housed in Nepali Temple is also called "Pashupatinath". Foreign visitors are charged INR 15 which is utilized in the upkeep of the shrine. Students study 'Sanskrit' here.

Nishad Ghat :-

In the earlier time, this Ghat is a part of Prabhu Ghat in half 20th century, but now a number of boatmen can be seen here with their small boats and nets. One of the boatman families built a temple on this Ghat and that temple is named as Nishad Raj Temple on the bank of this Ghat. Nishadraj was the boatman who ferried Lord Rama to cross river in exile. He is said to be the Chief God of boatmen community.

Panchkota Ghat :-

In the earlier time, this Ghat is a part of Prabhu Ghat in half 20th century, but now a number of boatmen can be seen here with their small boats and nets. One of the boatman families built a temple on this Ghat and that temple is named as Nishad Raj Temple on the bank of this Ghat. Nishadraj was the boatman who ferried Lord Rama to cross river in exile. He is said to be the Chief God of boatmen community.

Ram Ghat :-

Ram Ghat, associated with religious activities, is located near Harsiddhi Temple, about 6 kms north to Benares Hindu University (B.H.U.). Ram Ghat, built by the king of Jaipur comes alive with decoration on ceremonial & auspicious rituals during Ram navami festival which is held on the 9th day of Chaitramonth. Ram Ghat is associated with the Ram Tirtha and the shrine of VirRameshwara. Two other close-by water-tirthas are Kala Ganga Tirtha and Tamra Varsha Tirtha.

Rewan Ghat :-

Though the Rewan Ghat of Varanasi holds importance from historical perspective but from religious and social point of view, it is of lesser importance. Rewan Ghat was initially built by the royal priest of Maharaja Ranjit Sing of Punjab. His name was Lala Mishir and, hence, the Ghat then was called as Lala Mishir Ghat.But, later on in 1789 AD, King of Rewan bought Lala Mishir Ghat and re-fortified (made 'pucca') it. Since then, the Ghat got re-christened as Rewan Ghat. The concretized stairs have both the corners built on 'Ashta Pahal' concept of architecture to protect the Ghat from the currents of the Ganges. The King of Rewan later in 20th century donated this Ghat to Benares Hindu University. Rewan Ghat is also very popular Ghat that was built by the Lala Mishir who is a Purohita or Chief Priest of King Ranjit Singh of Punjab. This Ghat is an extended version of the Assi Ghat.

Shivala Ghat :-

This Ghat is divided into various small Ghats. This Ghat has an importance in the mid nineteenth century. There is a temple of Lord Shiva which was built by Nepal King Sanjay Vikram Shah in 19th century, and a math named as Brahmendra Muth that was built by Kashi raj.

Sankata Ghat :-

Sankata Ghat of Varanasi, named after Sankata Devi Temple, is a famous Ghat largely resorted for religious bathing and sacred rituals on the occasion of Yama Dvitiya. King of Baroda had prepared Sankata Ghat in late 18th century but was made 'pucca' by the widow of Beniram Pandit in 1825. Also, they constructed the temple structure of Sankata Devi Temple. At the top of Sankata Ghat lie two temples of Yameshwara and Harish chandreshwara. At the top of Sankata Ghat, in the just adjoining by-lane towards Varanasi city, are there shrines of Katyayini and Siddheshvari goddesses; three Vinayakas- Harishcandra, Chintamani and Mitra; and Vasukishvara. Sankata Devi Temple holds tremendous reverence and faith of the people of Varanasi and is visited by the devotees to seek favour of the deity to avoid any danger in life or to alleviate any present crisis. Sankata Devi is of later origin and a local deity of Varanasi. The popular belief of people of Varanasi in SankataDevi, makes Sankata Devi Temple the most powerful temple. The temple is located high above the Sankata Ghat. The Sankata Ghat is named after the deity and the temple and Ghat are approached through the convoluted lanes of the city. Sankata Devi means 'Goddess of Dangers'. She is the Goddess who vanquishes dangers for her devotees.

Tulsi Ghat :-

The Tulsi Ghat derived its name from the famous poet Tusidas who wrote Ram charit manas. Its past name was Lolark Ghat as per evidence of Girvana padamanjari and Gaharwa Danpatra (17cent.A.D.). This Ghat was made pucca by Baldeo Das Birala in year 1941. It is said that Tulsidas chose this Ghat to wite Rama charita manasa as he had dreams of Lord Hanuman at this Ghat which motivated him to write Rama charita manasa.

Vaccharaja Ghat :-

This Ghat is popular as it is believed that seventh Jain Tirthankar of Suparshvanatha was born here. This Ghat was constructed as pucca by a merchant Vaccharaja in later half of 18th century. So, this Ghat is known as Vaccharaja Ghat. Most of the Jain community lives here at the bank of this Ghat. Going upward to the bank of river Ganga, there is an image consists of Siva, Ganesh and Ganga riding on her vehicle crocodile.

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