Manikarnika Ghat

Manikarnika Ghat (मणिकर्णिका घाट) is one of the holiest among the sacred riverfronts Ghat, alongside the river  Ganga. It is believed that a dead human’s soul finds salvation Moksha, when cremated here. Thus, scores of the elderly across the whole country seek to walk up to its edges and spend their last days absorbing the charisma of the ghat – which makes even death painless and insignificant to be pondered upon.

In India, death is considered as a gateway to another life received as a result of our past actions karma

Manikarnika Ghat in 1922. Temples are L to R: Baba Mashan Nath, Lower level: Tarkeshwar and Rameshwaram, upper level: Tripur Sundari and Ganesh

It is one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi. The Manikarnika Ghat is mentioned in a Gupta inscription of the 5th century. It is revered in Hindu religion. When Mata Sati (Aadi shakti Mata) sacrificed her life & set her body ablaze after Raja Daksh Prajapati (one of the sons of Lord Brahma) tried to humiliate Lord Shiva in a Yagya practised by Daksh. Lord Shiva took her burning body to the Himalaya. On seeing the unending sorrow of Lord Shiva, Vishnu sends the Divine chakra to cut the body into 51 parts which fall on earth. They are called “Ekannya Shaktipeeth”. Lord Shiva established Shakti Peeth wherever Sati’s body had fallen. At Manikarnika ghat, Mata Sati’s Ear’s ornament had fallen.

Hindu mythology teaches that the ghat is especially sacred and that people cremated there receive Moksha. As the myth goes, Vishnu, after several thousand years of tapasya, trying to please Shiva, to convince him to not destroy the holy city of Kashi when he destroys the world, managed to do so.

Lord Shiva along with Parvati came to Kashi before Vishnu to grant him his wish. Vishnu dug a kund (well) on the bank of Ganga for the bath of the couple. When Lord Shiva was bathing a Mani (Jewel) from his earring fell into the kund, hence the name Manikarnika (Mani: Beads Karnam: Ear Angad: Ornament). There is another myth about the ghat: the ear jewel from Lord Shiva fell down while he was dancing angrily, which fell on the earth and thus Manikarnika Ghat formed.

The well  the ghat is called Manikarnika Kund and was built by Lord Vishnu.


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