The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Bundi Parkota and Shitala Ghats
25º 19.028’ North and 83º 00.197’ East (Shitala Devi temple, K 20/ 19). 2. Exact location on a map: Bundi Parkota and Shitala Ghats, down stream of the river. 3. Area (in ha) of proposed property: 0.02ha (three separate properties)
Formerly this ghat was known as Adi Vishveshvara as referred in the Giravanapada-manjari in the 17th century, and later as Raj Mandir Ghat. In ca 1580 this ghat was partly made stone stepped by the king of Bundi (Rajasthan), Raja Rao Surajan ‘Hada’. The reamins of the great palace built by him are still visible along the ghat. Again in mid 19th century repairing was made and portion of it built stone stepped. Close to the ghat is a temple of Vishveshvara, which given the name to the ghat. Till the early 20th century the Bundi Parkota ghat extended up to (Adi) Shitala ghat, but later the portion in close affinity to Shitala named after her, i.e. Shitala Ghat. This is an extended part of the Bundi Parkota ghat, and was also built by king ‘Hada’ in ca 1580. Later on, in 1772 the ghat was repaired by Narayana diskita. In the early 19th century the king of Bundi, Raja Rao Pritam Singh has re-built and repaired this ghat. In 1958 the government of Uttar Pradesh has repaired the two ghats and set out the nameplates. It is believed that the image of Shitala is the original image of Nageshvari (“oddess of snakes”). There are three goddess images on the same altar, vis. Narayani, Shitala and Nageshvari. Karnaditya Tirtha and Sankha Madhava are other puranic sacred spots. There are also some Sati stones in the vicinity.
=== Description and History ===: -- Like that of the other Shitala temples, on every 8th light-half of the months of Caitra, Vaishakha and Ashadha (March-July) festivities take place in honour of mother goddess. The worship of Shitala (“coolness”) has its ancient history in Bengal. She is worshipped in the hope that she will preserve her worshippers from the skin diseases like small and chicken poxes. Where there is an old shrine of Shitala, there should certainly be nima, margosa (Melia azadirachta). The nima is a very strong herbal tree providing coolness to the victim of small and chicken poses, and still very commonly used in herbal or alternative medicine. Shitala is the goddess of that healing spirit. That is how her worship helps to awaken the nature spirit for the well being of the devotees. The soft branches of nima are also used as truth brush in most parts of the village India.
Present state of conservation
Except by the 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 temple is owned by their Temple Trusts; the ghat area by the Municipal Corporation.