The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Bhonshala Ghats
25º 18.822’ North and 83º 00.921’ East (Nageshvara Temple). 25º 18.811’ North and 83º 00.924’ East (Lakshminarayana Temple).
Exact location on a map
Bhonshala Ghat, Nageshvara
0.022ha (Bhonshala temple compound)
The ancient name of the Bhonshala ghat was Nageshvara, which was referred into the Girvanana-padamanjari, a 17th century text. The temple of Nageshvara is in the closed vicinity (house No. CK 1/ 21); Nageshvara is one among the twelve Jyotira lingas distributed all over India. In ca 1780 Maratha king ‘Bhonshala’ of Nagpur made this ghat, and later in 1795 he made the steps of stone slabs. After his name the ghat is named as Bhonshala Ghat. The ghat is mapped on the Prinsep’s map of Banaras. In 1965 the government of Uttar Pradesh has repaired and re-built the ghat area. In the late 18th century, a temple was built inside the compound of the Bhonshala palace (CK 1/ 13), called Lakshminarayana. Later in early 19th century a temple called Raghurajeshvara (Shiva), was added in the compound. These were built by Indirabai and Gangadhar Rao of Pune. Both of these temples contain predominantly images Lakshmi and Narayana, followed by images of Shiva. The architectural style of both the temples is the very similar. On the upper part of the spire on both the temples are miniatures of ascetics and mendicants. The Uma-Maheshvara and Shiva with his drum and snake are among the pertinent images on the wall of Lakshmonarayana temple. At many places the image of snake has been engraved in a distinct way. This reflect to the tradition of snake worshipping in Varanasi in the past and also the existence of Nageshvara, one of the forms of Shiva as the lord of the snakes. While on the wall of Raghurajeshvara different forms of Vishnu are notable.
Present state of conservation
Except by the Nagpur Estate temple trust and the local public organisations, those work on their own ways, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats.
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 palace and temple are owned by the Nagpur Estate Temple Trust; the ghat area by the Municipal Corporation.