The ancient Kedar Ghat is one of the most important ghats in Varanasi and among the five special ghats that pilgrims are required to bathe in as part of the Panchatirthi Yatra.
The ghat is believed to be very closely related to the holy city of Kedarnath in the Himalayas, which is home to one of the most sacred Shiva temples, the Kedareshwara. Shiva is worshipped there by the name of Kedarnath, or Lord of Kedar Khand, the historical name of the region.
There are quite a number of smaller, less active ghats as you go up the river from the Assi Ghat towards the Kedar Ghat. The main highlights include the Tulsi Ghat, named after one of India’s greatest vernacular poets, the fortress-like Chait Singh Ghat, which was the site of a skirmish with the British, and the Harischandra Ghat, the city’s second – and reportedly oldest - cremation ghat.
For colorful scenes of daily river life, you should ask your guide to point out the Prabhu Ghat and Lali Ghat, which are very popular with the city’s laundrymen (dobi) who lay out their washing on the steps of the ghats, and the Jain Ghat and Nishadraj Ghat, which are home to large communities of boatmen. The Dandi Ghat with its staff-bearing ascetics also plays host to some vibrant scenes of the river’s spiritual life.
One of the most important bathing spots in Varanasi, the Assi Ghat lies on the confluence of the Ganga and Assi rivers and by tradition marks the southern boundary of the city.
Though little more than a stream today, the Assi is believed to have sprung from this spot when the goddess Durga threw her sword (asi) into the ground after killing the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha.
The Ranamahal Ghat was built by a raja of Udaipur, Rajasthan, and is located south of the Dasashvamedha Ghat between the Darbanga Ghat and Chousatti Ghat.
The palatial Darbanga Ghat was built by the Raja of Bihar, then known as Darbanga State, in 1915. Also known as the Brijrama Palace, the building is in the middle of being converted into a luxury hotel.
Getting ThereIf you plan to visit Talakad, Somanathapur, Tirumakudalu Narasipur, and Nanjangud from overseas, the best option is to fly directly to Bengaluru International Airport and then take road transportation from there.
Mysore has recently opened an airport, though the number of flights is quite limited at the time of writing this book, with only one flight per day from Bengaluru.
I’ve put the final touches to my latest eBook on Talakad, Somanathapur, Tirumakudalu Narasipur, and Nanjangud this weekend and plan to publish it within the next week.
While sorting through my materials, I came across some clips of the Nanjangud Nanjundeshwara Temple that I took on my visit there and have spliced them together into the video above.
The small rustic village of Tirumakudalu Narasipur is obscure by just about any standard, but that doesn’t deter it from making some rather grandiose claims about itself, including (just like Nanjangud) that it is “Dakshina Kashi” or the Varanasi of the South. You can read more about this subject here.
In addition to the Agasthyeshwara Temple, Tirumakudalu Narasipur is also home to a number of other sights including a sacred 2,000 year old fig tree and the Gunja Narasimhaswamy Temple. You can find more information on these attractions here.
Other AttractionsThere are a number of other temples in T Narasipur, the most important of which is the Gunja Narasimhaswamy Temple on the right bank of the River Kapila. Dedicated to Narasimha, the man-lion avatar of Vishnu, this is a large structure built in Dravidian style and features a tall entrance tower (gopura) and four-pillared main hall.
Inside the temple is a large idol of Narasimha carrying a weighing balance with a seed from a Gunja plant (Abrus precatorius), which apparently signifies that this area is holier than Varanasi itself.
In addition to making his own Shiva-linga, the sage Agastiya is also believed to have founded the Agasthyeshwara Temple, an ancient temple in the village with elements that date back at least a thousand years to the Chola and Ganga periods.
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