The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Bhadaini - Janaki and Anandamayi Ghats
25º 17.511’ North and 83º 00.388’ East (centre of Bhadaini Ghat)
Exact location on a map
Bhadaini- Janaki and Anandamayi Ghats
By its location in the neighbourhood of Bhadaini, the ghat is called by that name. In 1907 a water supply pump was opened here by the Municipal Corporation of Varanasi, that is how the ghat is also called as Jalakala Ghat. The water Pump is still in working condition, of course a new water pump has been opened nearby. The slope of the water works towards the Ganga river was made of brick, and ghat area was left as natural ground. In 1997 the ghat was made pucca by the municipal Corporation. Historically, this ghat was part of an old ghat called Lolarka Ghat, which was eulogised in the puranic literature. In the earlier literature the area was known as Bhadra Vana (“forest of the Bhadra Tree”), characterised by two images, viz, Bhadreshvara Shiva and Bhadra Vinayaka (Ganesha). The latter two images are in the nearby shrines. At this ghat no religious activities is performed.
Earlier the present Janaki Ghat was a natural open ground, and known for the Hayagriva Keshva whose shrine was in the upper part. The built-up structure was first made by Rai Girdhara Lal in ca 1860, that is the ghat was given a name as Girdhar Lal Ghat. In 1870 queen Rani Kunvar of Sursand (Sitamarhi district, Bihar) purchased this ghat and made it partly pucca and also built a shrine containing an image of Janaki (Sita, wife of Lord Rama). Since then the ghat is called Janaki Ghat. In 1917 Thakur Asarphi Singh, a senior member of the Sursand estate made repairing and renovation. There are stone steps from ghat to the neighbourhood. In the upper part the queen has built two temples (house no. B 2/82 and B 2/ 85) dedicated to Vishnu and Shiva. At this ghat too a little religious activities are performed.
Earlier mentioned Imaliya ghat after passage of time called Ananadamayi Ghat. This ghat was made pucca by Rai Baldeo Sahai in ca 1942. In 1944 the noted female ascetic Mata Anandamayi has purchased this ghat and developed the upper part for her ashrama. Later in 1945 the lower portion was made pucca by Shiv Prasad Gupt. There are two important buildings on the upper part of the ghat built by Anandamayi. The one runs as Ananadamayi Ashram (no. B 2/ 291), and contains the temple of Annapurna and Shiva, and also a big hall of yajna. The other attached one used as Anandamayi Kanyapith (no. B 2/ 294), a residential school for girls to have occult and spiritual education together with general education
Present state of conservation
Except by the three trusts directly taking care of the three properties, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The trusts maintain their properties according to their own perspectives without specific plans.
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 three specific properties along the ghat are owned by the respective trusts; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.