The Banarasi Ghats: Just a Picture

Banaras, Kashi, Varanasi all sounds very mystical to my ears. When we talk about the holy place the first thing which rings is Kashi Vishwanathan Temple (one of the 12 Jyotirlinga) along with the ghats and the very famous and mesmerizing Ganga Arti.

Varanasi also known as Banaras or “The Holy City of Kashi” is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. The city is on the banks of the holy river Ganga and also the favourite city of Hindu deity Lord Shiva. This city has been the cultural centre of North India for several thousand years and also has witnessed the creation of the famous Banaras Hindu University (one of the largest residential universities in Asia)

But when we talk about Banaras the first thing which comes to the mind is its Ghats (87 of them) on the banks of river Ganga. They are undoubtedly the most valuable assets of the city. All these ghats hold some significance. I did not had a chance to visit all 87 ghats but did come across some popular ghats like Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Lalita Ghat and Assi Ghat. These Ghats depicts a perfect picture of life which shows movement of human life, culture, belief, tradition which starts from early in the morning and stops only in the late night.

Since we are speaking about ghats, I couldn’t help but notice how the river Ganga affect the people of the city. People from different walks of life come here, do there jobs and go back home. For many of us Ganga is holy river. People come here to wash their sins off. But for people who stay here, for them Ganga also become a medium to earn money. They take you on boating, many people teach swimming and yoga to young kids on the ghats.

But at the same time it pains me to point out that on one hand we take Ganga as a holy river and worship them and on the other hand we pollute the holy river. Tonnes of garlands and flowers(which are offered to gods) are thrown in the water. There are cow dungs which are lying on the ghats. People washing their clothes on the ghats. This is more than enough to tells us what is the importance of such holy river in our faiths and beliefs.

According to the Hindu religion, King Bhagiratha did tapasya (penance) to please Lord Shiva to bring down Ganga to earth so that he could find salvation (moksh) for his ancestors who were cursed by a seer. As Ganga has a strong flow, it was impossible for anyone except for Lord Shiva to contain her destructive impact. Thus Ganga descended to earth through the locks of Lord Shiva’s hair with a gentle force to make earth a pious and fertile land to live and to wash away sins of humans and give them moksh. With such holy and divine cause we don’t even think twice before polluting the holy river. It is all circle of life, we get what we deserve and the same is determined according to your doings in life. Your doings also include polluting the sacred environment.