Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in India, is also one of the most sacred cities as well. Mostly popular as a site of pilgrimage, Varanasi is also a popular tourist spot. Every year a huge chunk of visitors visit Varanasi with a lot of faith and belief. Some want to wash away their sins whereas some visit here to attain salvation. Furthermore many visit here to be born in a new way, while others visit here to die. Yes! That shows how weirdly versatile this location is. And if there can be one location that is even more intriguing here that is the Manikarnika Ghat.
As we all know Varanasi is known for its innumerable Ghats. One of the most popular ghats here is the Manikarnika Ghat Kashi. Manikarnika Ghat Banaras is the ghat that mingles the line between life and death. That is how significant it is for the visitors here. If there can be a different kind of experience in Varanasi you can observe that in Manikarnika Ghat. A unique combination of life and death and salvation, the Kashi Manikarnika Ghat is one of a kind.
If you are interested to know everything about the Manikarnika Ghat then keep on reading this article. Here I will mention everything about the Manikarnika Ghat. It will be a helpful read for you if you are planning a trip to Varanasi. The Manikarnika Ghat should definitely be a part of your itinerary then.
Location: Manikarnika Ghat – Manikarnika Mahashamshan Ghat, near Lalita Ghat, Ghats of Varanasi, Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Timings of Manikarnika Ghat: Open 24 hours
How to reach Manikarnika Ghat
If you are traveling by flight then the nearest airport to reach the Manikarnika Ghat is Varanasi airport. The airport is around 25 km away from the ghat. It would take you around an hour to reach Manikarnika Ghat from the airport.
While travelling in a train the nearest railway station is the Varanasi Cantt Railway Station. It is around 6.9 km away from the Manikarnika Ghat. You can reach the Ghat from the railway station in about 35 minutes.
The Manikarnika Ghat is located between the Dashashwamedh Ghat and the Scindia Ghat. You can travel by road also if you want to reach the ghat. Get buses from the nearby cities to reach the Ghat. You will have to reach the Godolia Chowk first. Auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, cabs are available to reach here. Furthermore from Godolia Chowk you will have to walk further. No cars are allowed beyond that point. From Dashashwamedh Ghat or Scindia Ghat you can reach via a boat ride as well. That is also a good option to reach there.
One of the oldest ghats in Varanasi, Manikarnikla Ghat is a ghat where people visit to attain salvation or moksha. In the heart of the sacred city Manikarnika Ghat is a cremation ghat. Usually a cremation ground is located away from the city in the outskirts. But in Varanasi the Manaikarnika Ghat is located just in the centre. Varanasi is one of the cities in India that is famous for death and salvation. A lot of legends and myths are related to this ghat as well. Furthermore people believe that a visit to this Ghat or dying here would directly free them from the cycle of life and death.
This ghat is located just at the confluence of Assi Ganga that marks the southern boundary and the northern boundary of Ganga at the confluence of Varuna. On the southern end of the Ghat, usually huge piles of wood are seen stacked up. These woods are primarily used for the cremation here. At every other corner you might see a Purohit or Priest performing the last rites of some family. Almost around 200 cremations are recorded on a single day here in Manikarnika Ghat.
However along with being a cremation ghat the Manikarnika Ghat is also a Teerth sthan or site of pilgrimage. It holds religious significance as well for the devotees. At various times the emperors of Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar had made a lot of temples here. Majority of the temples found here are dedicated to Lord Shiva. Some of them are
- Manikarnika Shiv
- Tarakeswar Shiv
- Rani Bhavani Shiv
- Ratneshwar Shiv
- Siddhivinayak Shiv
- Rudreshwar Shiv
- Vishnu Pilgrimage
- Avi Mukteshwar
Manikarnika Ghat Story in Hindi
Previously known as the Manikarnika Kund, this ghat was paved in 1730 by Sadashiv Naik with the help of Peshwa Bajirao. There are legends and myths associated with this Ghat. According to the Kashi Kand previously this kund was known as the Chakrapushkarani Kund. It was believed that this ghat was created by Lord Vishnu’s Chakra when he performed Tapasya for Lord Shiva. There is a special spot known as the Vishnu Charan Pafkuka Chabutra. It is believed to be a place where the footprint of Lord Vishnu is observed.
Furthermore according to the Matsya Purana this Ghat is one of the top 5 ghats in Kashi. It is believed that here Lord Shiva himself repeats the Taarak Mantra in the ears of the devotees who choose to die here. Lord Shiva therefore directs the departed soul to a world of salvation transcending the cycle of life and death. This belief is something that makes it a special location for cremation.
However there is another legend according to scriptures. It is believed that once Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati were bathing in the kund. While doing so Lord Shiva’s Mani and Devi Parvati’s Karnika fell here. From there the ghat got its name Manikarnika.
Another Manikarnika Ghat story is related to the creation of Shakti Peeth. It is when Devi Sati sacrificed her life to a yajna pyre, Lord Shiva was furious. He started his dance of destruction with the corpse of Devi Sati. It is then that Lord Vishnu sent his Chakra to cut Devi Sati’s Body into pieces. Furthermore the earring of Devi Sati fell at this spot and the ghat was named the Manikarnika Ghat.
Legend of Manikarnika Ghat
The Manikarnika Ghat is also known as the Mahasamshan Ghat. Furthermore it is said that the cremation flame here never goes off. However it is believed that Kashmiri Lal founded this Samshan ghat during the 18th century. He was the first one to practice cremation here also. According to popular belief once there was some argument between Kashmiri Laal and the Chandal regarding the cremation of his mother. He therefore bought his mother’s body in Manikarnika Ghat and performed her last rites. From then the ghat also became an important cremation ground. Previously it was only a Teerth Ghat.
Rituals and activities in Manikarnika Ghat
Both from a religious as well as cultural viewpoint the Manikarnika Ghat holds a lot of importance. As it is a cremation ground, cremation is observed here. Along with that people are also seen here bathing in the water. On special occasions like Surya or Chandra Grahan and Karthik Poorinima there are more people visiting here. Also occasions like Sankranti, Ekadashi, Ganga Dussehra and Bhai Dooj are celebrated here.
Furthermore, not just cremation, the Manikarnika Ghat is also known for performing other Hindu rituals and poojas as well. During the Kartik month Ramleela is performed here which attracts a lot of visitors. The Manikarnika Ghat is visited by a lot of tourists but it is not really a tourist spot. However there are options to observe the last rites happening in the Ghat. But it is not something that any person would like to observe as a part of tourist activities. There are boat rides from Dashshwamedh Ghat to Manikarnika Ghat as well which are popular.
Best time to visit
Winter is ideally the best time when you can visit here. From the months of October to March the weather remains most pleasant here. Furthermore the summer can be a little too hot and humid. Especially during peak summer months the temperature gets very high. However the monsoon season is not at all recommended for a visit here. Furthermore during the months of July to August the rainfall can dampen the travel spirit. Boat rides will be restricted due to rain and thunderstorm activities as well. So to enjoy the best of the Ghat plan your visit accordingly.
Nearby places to visit from the Manikarnika Ghat
The Manikarnika Ghat Varanasi is located at a location where it is in close proximity to a lot of tourist attractions. Some of the popular tourist spots that you can visit here are
- Manikarnika Cremation Ground
- Manikarnika Kund
- Kachori Gali
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple
- Baba Mohan Nath Temple
- Kashi Karvat Temple
- Tarakeshwar Temple
- Jalasen Ghat
- Scindia Ghat
- Dashashwamedh Ghat
- Lalita Ghat
- Man Mandir Ghat
- Ramnagar Fort
- Alamgir Masjid
- Chaukahndi Stupa
- Dhamek Stupa
- Nepali Temple
- Assi Ghat
- Banaras Hindu University
We all know the general rule of life and after life. Some believe that people are born again after their death and that is the result of their Karma. You can imagine the belief of a human being visiting here with the faith that they can get rid of the cycle of life and death if they die here. It is this belief that makes this Ghat one of a kind. Here death is not fearful. People are willingly visiting here to die to attain moksha. Furthermore many people have it as their last wish to be cremated at this location. Not necessarily a tourist spot, a visit to the Manikarnika Ghat Varanasi can be wholesome and life changing.
You may find yourself asking questions of life and death. What is known is, a visit to a spot like this would make you value life even more. You may even want to reflect on all the deeds that you are indulging in throughout the lifetime. Furthermore you will understand how small a life is. And therefore we should live life to the fullest. So whenever you are visiting Varanasi make sure you visit this Ghat. The air here smells different, the atmosphere also looks different. You must experience that yourself. Let me know if this article on Kashi Manikarnika Ghat is helpful for you. And also let me know when you are planning a visit to Varanasi.