Ghats in Varanasi -The Ultimate destination of Pilgrims
(Part - II)
“Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” - Mark Twain
Manikarnika Ghat has a great significance not only in Hindu mythology and way of life but also in the philosophies of life and death. Manikarnika is basically a cremation Ghat. It is the most important and main cremation Ghat of Varanasi. Usually, cremation Ghats are placed outside the main town, as they are considered inauspicious. It is most interesting in Varanasi that, this doesn't stand true in the case of Varanasi, where Manikarnika is situated quite in the middle of town itself. This is precisely because the entire city of Varanasi is considered a "Maha-Shmashan" or the Great Cremation Ground.
According to the Hindu mythology, being burned here provides an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths. Lying at the center of the five tirthas, Manikarnika Ghat symbolizes both creation and destruction.
At Manikarnika Ghat, the mortal remains are consigned to flames with the prayers that the souls rest in eternal peace. There is a sacred well at the Manikarnika Ghat, called the Manikarnika Kund. Manikarnika Kund is said to be dug by Lord Vishnu at the time of creation while the hot ashes of the burnt bodies’ makes one remember the inevitable destruction of everything in the world.
|Lord Shiva's Temple at Manikarnika Ghat|
It is believed that Lord Shiva utters tarak mantra on the ear of the dead so that he immediately attains salvation.
Lalita Ghat is one of the main ghats on the Ganges River in Varanasi. The ghat is named after Hindu Goddess Lalita and was built in early 19th century by King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah. Lalita Ghat is famous for the Nepali Temple, dedicated to Pashupateswara Siva, which is a Nepali-type wooden temple with interesting sculptures.
Also here is a Vishnu temple dedicated to Ganga Keshava.
Scindia 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. According to tradition, Agni, the Hindu God of Fire was born here.
Pancha-ganga Ghat & Bindu Madhava Temple
Beneath this Ghat, the Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Kirana, and Dhutapapa Rivers are said to meet. It is one of the five main ghats in Varanasi. It is considered especially auspicious to bathe here during the month of Kartika (Oct-Nov), and even more so on the full moon day of Kartika.
The famous Alamgir Mosque was built at this ghat by Aurangzeb in the 17th century, after he destroyed the major Bindu Madhava Temple that used to be here. The present Deity of Bindu Madhava is in a small temple by the mosque. It is located just above the Pancha-ganga Ghat. There is a boat stop here, one can go by boat and walk up to the temple.
Beside the main Ghats there are more Ghats there to be specified... The best time to visit the ghats is at dawn, when the river is lined with bathers and worshipers; it is very peaceful.
Dandi Ghat is the ghat of the Dandi Panths holy men. At Hanuman Ghat there is a temple dedicated to Hanuman. Hanuman Ghat is where Vallabha Acharya, who was a Vaishnava saint; spread the glories of Sri Krishna, is said to have been born in the 16th century.
At Kedar Ghat there is a well half-way up the ghat called Gauri Kund, which is named after Lord Siva’s wife, which is said to have healing properties. At this ghat is the Kedareswara Siva-linga Temple.
Manasarovar Ghat is named after the holy lake which is found at the foot of Mt Kailash in Tibet. Man Singh of Jaipur built it.
At Chausatti Ghat is the temple dedicated to the Chaumsathi (64) Yoginis, which has deities of Durga and Kali.
The distinctive looking Bhosale Ghat was built by the Maratha ruling family of Nagpur, who belonged to the Bhosale family. It's a substantial stone building with small artistic windows at the top.
At Mir Ghat there is the Vishalakshi (“Wide-eyed Goddess”) Temple. This temple is a shakti pitha and is said to mark the place where a part of the body of Sati, the wife of Lord Siva, fell.
At Someswara Ghat there is a temple of the moon, and every kind of disease is supposed to be healed here.
Munshi Ghat is an interesting ghat to look at.
Darbhanga Ghat is one of the most visually appealing, and architecturally impressive ghats. It features an imposing palace built in the early 1900s by the royal family of Bihar. Adjoining it is Munshi Ghat, constructed in 1912 by Sridhara Narayana Munshi, finance minister of the State of Darbhanga.
At Dattatreya Ghat, there are the footprints of a sadhu of the same name.
Ahalya Bai Ghat is named after the Maratha queen of Indore.
|Ahalya Bai Ghat|
At Rama and Laksman Ghat there is a Rama and Laksman Temple. The king of Jaipur built it.
Next is Gai Ghat; has a cow made of stone on it.
Trilochan Ghat, where is located the Siva temple of Tri (“three”) Lochana (“eye”), who has three eyes. Also in this temple Varanasi Devi is worshiped, the city-goddess of Varanasi.
The important Raj Ghat (also called Adi Keshava Ghat) is the northern most ghat. Located here is the Adi Keshava Vishnu Temple, which is located where the Varuna River flows into the Ganges. Lord Vishnu is said to have first put his feet here when he came to Varanasi.
That's all for today. I shall come with more stories of Varanasi and other destinations of India very soon. Till then, good bye! Take care of yourself and your family.