ghats of benares

Subahe Benaras

61. 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 latter one. The Varanasi Municipal Corporation made this ghat pucca in 1960s. there are three water-tirth as along this ghat: Maitravaruna, Marutta and Iksavaku.

62. RAMA GHAT:

This ghat has association with the Rama Tirtha and the shrine of Vira Ramesvara. 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 Chitra(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.

63. JATARA GHAT:

64. RAJA GWALIOR GHAT:

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

65. MANGALA GAURI GHAT:

This was built by Balaji Pasava-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 Gabhastisvara, 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 Raghavendresvara, and Carcika Devi.

66. VENIMADHAVA GHAT:

This is the part of the Pancaganga 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 alace 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 Laksmanabala building and still it attracts a thousand of devotees and pilgrims for glimpse and worship.

67. 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 Vadanta, Ramananda (CF 1299-1411) to whom Kabira (1398-1623) a great reformist bhakit 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 (Todara Mala?), the finance secretary of the Mughal King Akbar. In c. 1735 Bajirao Pesava-I together with Sadasive Naik rebuilt and repaired it. Again in 1775 renovations and repairing were done by Sripatirao Pesava, and Pant Pririnidhi of Andha. There are eight water-front sacred tirthas at the ghat: Pippalada, Vindu Makha, Mayukharka, Jnanahrda and Pancanada. There are two monasteries at the ghat, viz. Sri and Ramannada.

At the ghat, close to the riverfront, 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 is 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-triests) 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.

68. 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 Divana of Gwalior State, whose building at the top of the ghat is know as Phadanavisa Wada. At the ghat exist Marakandeya and Kharva Nrsimha Tirthas, and at the there is a shrine of Kharva Nrsimha. On the full-moon day of the month of Karttika youngmen make show fighting and mettle.

69. 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 Sansthana:Sudhindra Tirtha Svami.

70. 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 Sesa Madhava, Karnadity and Laksmi Nrsimha.

71. (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 Nagesvari Devi ("Snake Goddess") and Narayani. Karanaditya Tirtha at the bank and Sankha Madhava are other sacred spots. There are there Sati stones of memory in the vicinity. Like that of the earlier Sitala Ghat, on every 8th light-half of the months of Caitra, Vaisakha, Jyestha and Asadha (March-July) festivities take place in honour of mother goddess.

72. 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 Givinda Ghat at the top of which exists a pilgrims'rest house made by him.

73. HANUMANAGARDHI GHAT:

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

74. GAYA/GAI GHAT:

This ghat records a reference in a 17th century txxt, 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 : Bagesvari Devi, Nagesvari Devi("Snake Goddess"), Mukarnirmalika Devi("Pure-Faced Goddess") and Samhara Bhairava.

75.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 nagesavara tirtha, Nagesvara, Nagesa Vinayaka and Nara-narayana Kesava. 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 pausa(dec.-jan.), a special festivity in honour of Visnu in the form of Nara-Narayana is celebrated. Also, on 3rd light-half of Vaisakha(Apr.-May) there takes a sacred bath ceremony.

76.TRILOCANA GHAT:

The name derives after famous image of Shiva, Trilochana ("Three-Eyeed"), whose lingam is known as Trilocanesavara. 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 rituala. The renovations and repairings were done by Narayana Dixsit in c. 1772. Later around 1795 Nathu Bala of Pune made the ghat pucca.

77. GOLA GHAT:

Since late 12th cent. this site was used as ferry point and was also known for a number of granaries(gold), 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 Kesava (Visnu).

78. NANDESAVARA /NANDU GHAT:

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

79. 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 HaridashanSavasrama Trust (Mukimgung). Most parts of the ghat are occupied by washermen.

80. 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.

81. NAYA/PHUTA GHAT

In medieval digests a sacred water-front site, Gopratara Tirtha, and an image of Gopratatesvara 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.

82. PRAHALADA GHAT:

This is the named after Prahalada, a great mythological devottee 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 Nisada 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 Prahaladesvara, Prahalada Kesava, Vidara Narsimha, and Varada and Picindala Vinayakas. Around the northern site exists Mahisasura Tirtha, Svaralingesvara,Yajna Varaha and Sivaduti Devi. On 14th light- half of Vaisakha (April-May), a grand festive celebration to honour the appearance of Nrsimha ("Lion-Man" incarnation of Lord Visnu; i.e. 4th among the ten) is performed on massive scale in the temple of Prahaladesvara.

83. 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.

84. ADI KESHAVA GHAT:

In Ghadavala inscription (c. C.E. 1100) this ghat was referred as Vedesvara Ghat. This is assumed to be the oldest and the original (Adi) site of Lord Visnu ( Kesava). The temple complex of Adi Kesava has a pleasant pastoral setting on he bank above the confluence of the Varana 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 favourite 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 Kesava or a dip in the Ganga at the Varana confluence: (Niyogi 1959: app. B as in Eck 1982:233). The ghat was made pucca in 1790 by a Divan of Scindhia State.

According to a flok legend the five most sacred water-fron holy spots represent the bodily parts of the Lord:" Asi is the head; Dasasvamedha is the chest; Manikarnika is the naval; Pancaganga is the thighs; and Adi Kesava is the feet" (Eck 1982:233). This reminds that Vianu first placed his holy feet here in Varanasi. His foot prints (Carana Paduka) in the Adi Kesava temple symbolize that occasion; another foot prints are at Manikarnika Ghat.

Bathing at confluence of the Varana and the Ganga and paying visit to Sangamesvara ("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 Sangamesvara. If a man shall become pure taking his bath at the confluence of the divine river and then worship Sangamesa, whence need he fear rebirth".

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

Between Prahalada and Adi Kesava Ghat (from south to north) there are ten water-tirthas lying along the bank: Sankha Madhava, Sasa, Laksminrsimha, Gopigivinda, Vindara Nrsimha, Yajna Varaha, Mara- Narayana, Vamana, Pranava and Dattatreyesvara. And between Adi Kesava Ghat and confluence of the Varana there are twelve water-tirthas: Aditya Kesava, Ambarisa, Narada, Garuda, Mahalaksmi, Padma, Gada, Cakra, Sankha, Ksirabdhi, Svetadvipa and padodaka.

In the vicinity of Adi Kesava temple are located two Vinayakas: Cinatamani ("relieving worry") and Kharva ("the dwarf"), and jnana Kesava ("wisdom"), P/rayaga lingam and Kesavaditta ("Kesava-Sun").

The barth day of Vamana ("the Dwarf"; 5th incarnation of Visnu among the ten) is celebrated on massive scale in the Adi Kesava 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.