The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Agnishvara (Naya), Ganesha and Mehta Ghats
25º 18.839’ North and 83º 00.890’ East (Agnishvara, Patni Tola).
Exact location on a map
Naya-Ganesha and Mehta Ghats. ==== Area ==== 0.21 ha
Agnishvara (or Naya) ghat is named after the puranic water-front tirtha in the Ganga, called Agni Tirtha, and also the same name temple (Patni Tola CK 2/1). This linga and tirtha are described in the Giravana-padamanjari, a 17th century text. In Prinsep’s map (1822) this ghat is mentioned as Gularia Ghat which was made partly pucca a few years before. According to the KKT (p. 122) as mentioned in the Linga Purana, in the Ashtayatana Yatra, pilgrimage to eight directional lingas, this ghat is eulogised as the site for initiation and concluding rituals. Between Scindhia and Ganesha Ghats there exist five puranic sacred spots at the water-front, viz. Vighnesha, Vira, Candra, Kala and Angara. In 1965 the government of Uttar Pradesh built this ghat pucca. Till 1985 this ghat was used as the centre of marketing sand and wood which were transported here by boats, however this practice has been banned here. -- In puranic literature this ghat is also referred as Vighneshvara Ghat. During 1761-72 Madhorao Peshva has built the northern part of the Agnishvara Ghat pucca. In 1807 Amritrao Peshva has further made extensive repairing, made the ghat fully pucca, and also built Amrit Vinayaka Ganesha Temple. After the name of the temple the ghat is called as Ganesha Ghat. At the nearby bank exists the puranic water-front spot of Ikshvaku Tirtha. At the upper part there are temples of Bhadreshvara and Nagesha Vinayaka. On the 9th dark-half of Bhadrapada (August/ September), at this ghat holds a special religious fair as part of sacred bath and worship of Ganesha. This is dominated by the Maharashtian pilgrims. This is a active ghat where local residents take bath every day, followed up by the morning rituals. -- Till 1960 Mehta Ghat was a portion of the southern part of Rama Ghat. According to the puranic sources there existed two water-front sacred spots, viz. Maitravaruna and Mautta Tirtha. In 1960 a rich merchant of Kolkata, Ballabharam Saligaram Mehta has purchased this area and built a hospital in 1962. In commemoration of his services to Kashi this ghat is called Mehta Ghat. Further, in the same year the Municipal Corporation of Varanasi has made the ghat repaired and extended. This ghat is well known for the Sangaveda Vidyalaya (‘school of the Sanga Veda’), where teaching is performed in Sanskrit medium; and students have to strictly follow the rules of chastity, celibacy, yoga and meditation and to live a life of monk. Of this kind this is the only school, perhaps in whole of India. This area is dominated by Maharashtrian people.
Present state of conservation
Except by the temple organisations and the hospital taking care of its properties, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The temple trusts maintain their properties according to their own perspectives.
Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property
It is expected that by the support of active people participation, awareness to save the age-old rich heritage, and development under the Master Plan (and its judiciary control) the ghat heritage will be protected and conserved for the better befit to the society.
The temple related and hospital properties along the ghat are owned by the respective trusts; the houses and other properties by the inhabitants; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.