View www.VaranasiTourismTravels.com in a larger map

Manikarnika Ghat

Location

Manikarnika Ghat is located close to Kashi Vishwanath Temple at the bank of River Ganga.

How to Reach

You can reach Manikarnika Ghat by alighting at Chowk. Chowk can be reached by car, auto rickshaw etc. Since no vehicles are allowed in the narrow lanes around Kashi Vishwanath Temple so you have to walk for 5-10 minutes through these lanes to reach Manikarnika Ghat.

Highlights

Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest, most sacred and the main cremation Ghat of Varanasi. Manikarnika Ghat is the Mahashamshan (meaning: "great cremation ground") and is the primary site for Hindu cremation in the city. Adjoining the Ghat, there are raised platforms that are used for death anniversary rituals. It is said that Lord Shiva’s chest jewel (Mani) and His wife Goddess Parvati’s an earring (karnika) fell here in the sacred pool, hence named as Manikarnika. According to a myth related to the Tarakesvara Temple besides the Ghat, Shiva whispers the Taraka mantra ("Prayer of the crossing") in the ear of the dead. It is believed that cremation at Manikarnika Ghat ensures a safe place in Heaven, as the cremators of this Ghat are believed to have the patronage of Lord Shiva. Current Ghat as a permanent river side embankment was built in the 1302 and has been renovated many times since then. Since Lord Shiva, the lord of Destruction, is said to have resided in Varanasi, the entire holy area is considered Mahashamshan.

It is said that the funeral fires never die out at the Manikarnika Ghat. According to the Hindu mythology, being burned here provides an instant gateway to liberation from the cycle of births and rebirths. There is a sacred well at the Manikarnika Ghat, called the Manikarnika Kund and it 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. After River Ganga recede every year, the pool is full of soil deposits. The Kund is re-dug and its surroundings are cleaned and painted with bright folk art depicting the presiding goddess, Manikarnika Devi. Manikarnika Temple is an attraction for the pilgrims. There is also a small shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu over here which is marked by his footprint which is also called Paduka. Tarakeshwara Lingam over here remains flooded with people all round the year.

Usually the location for cremation is outside the main city elsewhere as it is considered inauspicious but this doesn’t stand true in case Varanasi because Manikarnika Ghat is located in the middle of the city. This is because entire Varanasi is supposed to be considered as Mahashamshan. There are various shops near the Ghat for goods used during cremation such as ghee, clothes, wood, sweets and other offerings. There are Doms at Ghat to carry out cremations and are considered as guardian of dead. Please note that photography is strictly considered offensive here so please avoid doing that as this might lead to unwanted troubles.