Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat
Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat is one of the most ancient ghats located in Varanasi. It is also referred to as the cremation ghat because Hindus believe that if a dead body is cremated here, the person attains moksh. This means they are freed from the cycle of rebirth and death. Furthermore, their body becomes intermingled with Lord Shiva.

Manikarnika ghat in Varanasi has a unique history behind its naming. Legend tells us that when Raja Daksh Prajapati shamed Lord Shiva at the yagya, Mata Sati self-immolated herself and as Lord Shiva carried her body away to the Himalayas, two of her earrings fell off and landed in this very spot. The name ‘Manikarna’ is derived from Sanskrit meaning literally “earrings,” hence giving us an insight into why it’s called Manikarnika ghat!

An intriguing legend is associated with the dawn of Manikarnika Ghat; it all began when Lord Vishnu prayed for thousands of years to appease Lord Shiva and save Kashi from destruction. Impressed, both Shiva and Parvati descended upon Kashi to grant his wish. As an offering, Lord Vishnu dug a well or kund for them to take their bath in. It’s believed that while they bathed, one of Shiva’s earrings fell into the kund which was then fondly named as ‘Manikarnika Kund’ and subsequently so did its adjacent ghat — ‘Manikarnika’. The same kund is also recognized by Cakra – Pushkarini Kund. It is said that this Manikarnika Kund is even older than the River Ganges. It is also considered that Lord Vishnu’s Charanapaduka, that is, Lord’s footprints is placed in a white marble slab in the ghat since Lord Vishnu had spent a considerable time at the ghat.

One of the renowned tales behind Manikarnika ghat states that when Lord Shiva was immersed in his tandav – or furious dance- an earring from His ears descended onto earth and formed this eternal Ghat. To this day, it remains as a testament to its sacred history.

According to the fourth story, goddess Parvati craftily hid one of her earrings in the ghat and tasked Lord Shiva with discovering it.

As the fifth mythological story goes, Lord Vishnu created Manikarnika Kund to remind people of our mortality. Any individual who sees the hot ashes of dead bodies in this kund will come to understand that death is an inevitable part of life and symbolizes both its fragility and immortality.

The majestic Manikarnika ghat boasts a temple of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, erected by the Awadh Maharaja in 1850. Having earned its place as one of the most visited temples in Varanasi, however, it is also unfortunately among the most polluted sites there.

Manikarnika Ghat can be a disturbing encounter for visitors who are not familiar with Hindu cremation. If you have the courage, you can take a guided tour of the ghat for an additional fee and let priests show you around piles of burning wood, as well as bodies in cloths awaiting their turn to be cremated. The atmosphere may seem extremely eerie at times due to its sights and smells; however, haggling is highly encouraged when speaking with priests!

Manikarnika ghat may not be the ideal place for a peaceful retreat, but it’s definitely worth visiting if you want to go deeper in your understanding of Hinduism’s view on life and death. It is an eye-opening experience to witness first hand how devotees respond with acceptance and reverence towards the concept of rebirths and deaths.

To experience the special atmosphere of cremation ceremonies, visit between 8 am and 7 pm. At this ghat, more than 300 bodies are cremated daily – it’s so popular that boats become highly sought after by sunrise and sundown! Don’t miss out on a unique opportunity to observe these memorable occasions up close.

If you plan on visiting the Manikarnika Ghat, winter is your optimal time to go. October through March are considered the enjoyable months of this season while the peak monsoon period from July to August should be avoided at all costs.

By Rail
Manikarnika Ghat is conveniently located only two kilometers away from Kashi Railway Station, providing an easy and reliable means of transportation.

By Air
The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, located only 25 kilometers away from Ghat, is your closest air transport hub. You can easily book a taxi for the journey!

By Bus
The Kashi Bus Depot is the closest bus stand to the ghat, so you can hop on a bus there for your journey.

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