Holy Ghats of Benaras Varanasi on river Ganga,(India)
The city of Benaras or Varanasi or Kashi has always had religious and spiritual significance in ancient India. The city is on the banks of the Holy River Ganga (Ganges). The banks of river Ganga has steps leading to the river. These river front steps are called as "Ghats". The city has a total of 87 Ghats which are used for bathing in the river, religious ceremonies and even cremation rituals. People often use these Ghats to ride a boat over the river Ganga. This boat ride takes you from Dasaswamedh Ghat to Harishchandra Ghat. One can also walk across different Ghats since the water levels are constantly low.
Below is a list of all the Ghats in benaras -
Mata Anandamai Ghat
Adi Keshava Ghat
Badri Nayarana Ghat
Bauli /Umaraogiri / Amroha Ghat
Bundi Parakota Ghat
Cheta Singh Ghat
Ganga Mahal Ghat (I)
Ganga Mahal Ghat (II)
Gauri Shankar Ghat
Harish Chandra Ghat
Karnataka State Ghat
Shri Guru Ravidass Ghat
Mana Mandira Ghat
Mangala Gauri Ghat
Old Hanumanana Ghat
Raj Ghat built by Peshwa Amrutrao
Raja Ghat / Lord Duffrin bridge / Malaviya Bridge
Raja Gwalior Ghat
Rajendra Prasad Ghat
Rana Mahala Ghat
Tripura Bhairavi Ghat
Some of the ghats are known from the time of Puranas. Some of these ghats have been dated to the 17th century. Most of these ghats have been created during the reign of the Marathas, Scindias, Holkars and Peshwas. The families are still patrons of some of the Ghats. A few Ghats are also privately owned.
Not only are these Ghats used for spiritual and religious enlightenment, they are extremely popular tourist attractions. Throngs of photographers visit this place from all over the world.
Pilgrims and Yogis come here during early morning to perform their morning Pujas during sunrise. At sunset a maha aarti (river worship) takes place. This grand ceremony is held at the Dhashashwamedh Ghat.
Manikarnika Ghat Dashashwamedha Ghat Tibetan Temple in Sarnat
Let us look into details some of the well known Ghats of Benaras:-
Dasaswamedh Ghat - It would not be wrong to say that this is the most famous Ghat in the city. It is considered the oldest Ghat and the Ganga Aarti takes place here.
Manikarnika Ghat - This Ghat is also known as the burning Ghat since cremation rituals are held here. It is believed that the fire at this Ghat has been constantly burning since 2500 years.
Harish Chandra Ghat - This Ghat is named after the king Harish Chandra who resolved to always speak the truth. Devotees believe that if one is cremated here, he/she attaines Moksha (salvation). This Ghat is also known as "Adi Manikarnika"
Assi Ghat - This Ghat is at the furthest south corner where the river Assi meets river ganga. There is a peepal (Ficus religiosa) tree underneath which is a shiva lingam. This is a highly visited place and people are seen worshiping Lord Shiva.
Tulsi Ghat - This Ghat is named after the famous poet and saint Tulsidaas. In the hindu month of Kartik (Oct-nov), a krishna worship ceremony is held here.
Chet Singh Ghat - This is the place where Maharaja Chet Singh fought the Britishers in the 18th century.
Darbhanga Ghat - A perfect example of great architecture is the Darbhanga Ghatwhich has a palace that was built in 1990s by the royal family of Bihar. Next to it is Munshi Ghat that was built in 1912 by the then finance minister of Bihar Narayan Munshi.
Man Mandir Ghat - Maharaja Maan Singh of Jaipur built this Ghat in 1600s. This Ghat has a palace that shows full blown Rajput architecture. Sawai Jaisingh II added an astronomy observatory in 1730.
Scindia Ghat - Although this Ghat is near the burning Manikarnika Ghat, it is a calm and peaceful place. It is under the patronage of the Scindia's (Shinde). The biggest attraction here is a Shiva temple which is partially submereged in water.
Bhosale Ghat - This Ghat houses a imposing looking stone building that is distinctive of the Maratha style.
Dattatreya Ghat - This Ghat is well known for housing the footprint of a Brahmin saint whose name was Dattatreya. There is a small temple for the saint nearby.
Panchganga Ghat - This is the place where five rivers Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Kirana, and Dhutapapa meet. This place is well known for the Alamgir mosque that was built by Aurangzeb.
Raj Ghat - This place is also known as Adi Keshava Ghat because it is home to the Adi Keshav Vishnu mandir. It is said that Shree Vishnu first landed here in Benaras.
Besides these, there are other famous Ghats like Kedar Ghat, Mansarovar Ghat, Mir Ghat , Lalita Ghat etc. It is impossible to explain about each Ghat and its significance in any article. Visitors and devotees are encouraged to visit these Ghats and experience their beauty,wonderful ambience, lights and the colorful crowd. For people interested in Soul searching or Spirituality or even hobby photographers; the Benaras Ghats have something to offer for everyone.
Major festivals - The Ganga festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated here. Chath Puja (Sun god worship) rituals include fasting and praying to the sun while standing in the water. During the hindu festival months (Sep-Nov), these Ghats draw in huge crowds. Raam Navami, Dassera, Diwali, Shivratri and Karthik Purnima are also big ceremonies here.
How to Reach
By Train - Benaras is well connected on the railway line with all the major cities of the country. Major railways stations are Benaras Junction, Mughal Sarai and Manduadih.
By Air - The nearby airport is Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport
By Road - Travel operators and state transport buses run at scheduled times. Visitors can take a tuk-tuk from the bus station to the banks of Ganga.
Temples like - Gauri Maata temple, Kaal Bhairav temple, Durga temple, Saarnath temple
Benaras Hindu University
Content By Ananya
Vajreshwari Yogini Devi and Natural Hot Springs,(India)
Location: Bhiwandi Taluka, Thane District, Maharashtra
Located on the banks of Tansa river, about 80 kilometers from Mumbai is a town called Vajreshwari. This town was earlier called Vadvali. It was renamed after a temple - Shree Vajreshwari Yogini Devi Mandir. The temple is situated in a hilly area, said to be formed due to volcanic eruptions.
Originally the temple was built in a neighboring town of Gunj but had to be moved to this town after Portuguese invasion.
Main Deity:- The main deity at this temple is Goddess Vajreshwari, holding her mace,sword and trident. The idol is saffron in color. There are also shrines for Goddess Renuka, Saptashrungi Mahalakshmi (similar to Vani temple), Kalika Devi and Parshurama. Also, there are smallers shrines for Lord Shiva, Shree Ganesh, shree Hanuman and Dattatreya.
Legend:- The story of this temple is as follows -
During the ancient times a demon named Kalikut created problems for the sages. In order to put an end to their misery sage Vashishta performed a Yagna ritual. During this yagna, an offerring of Ghee (clarified butter) needs to be made to please the Gods. Somehow, an offering was not made to Lord Indra. Angrily, he threw his divine weapon (Vajra) into the Yagna fire. Fearing destruction, the sags prayed to to Chandi (Shakti or the Goddess of Power). The goddess appeared as vajreshwari and swallowed the vajra. She also killed Kalikut.
Architecture:- Mainly, the temple is a stone structure, built like a fort The construction is very similar to Bassein fort. It is necessary to climb up a few steps to reach the main shrine. At the entrance is a big golden idol of a Tortoise (the Kurma avtar of Vishnu).
Outside the main hall, there is a Yagnalay (a placec where fire rituals are held). The Goddesses wear traditional jewellery and have a silver umbrella that shelters them.
One interesting aspect of this location are the natural hot water springs in this area. Scientists say that since this is area is close to a Volcano, the water of these springs flows hot. The springs are named Agni, Surya, Raama, Sita and .
Festivals/Prayers:- Navratri, Ram navami, Durga Puja are the biggest festivals here. In the month of Chaitra - a huge fair is held during new moon days. This pilgrimage place sees a lot of devotees during the fair.
Devotees believe in the curative powers of the springs and also mention that the waters wash away all sins.
How to Reach:-
By Air- Nearest airport is Mumbai airport
By Rail- Nearest railheads are Thane (central line) and Virar (western line)
By Road-Maharashtra state transport buses run from Vasai and Virar stations.
Website:- Shree Vajreshwari Temple
Note: images courtesy -various sites from google