The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Dashashvamedha Ghat and nearby Temples
Location[edit | edit source]
25º 18.385’ North and 83º 00.616’ East (Dashashvamedha Ghat, a, lower part). 25º 18.416’ North and 83º 00.650’ East (Dashashvamedha Ghat, b, upper part).
Exact location on a map[edit | edit source]
Dashashvamedha Ghat: Lower (a) and Upper (b).
Area[edit | edit source]
0.54ha (the ghats and nearby area; in two parts)
Historical/cultural/natural significance[edit | edit source]
Dashashvamedha Ghat is the most important and active ghat in respect to historicity and continuity of traditions. This ghat is divided into two parts (a and b, lower and upper sites, respectively); in between the two parts is the Prayaga Ghat which replicates the holy city of Prayaga (Allahabad), lying 128km west. This ghat is presumed to be the first historically recorded site associated with the Bhara Shiva Nagas king of the 2nd century CE, who after defeating the Kushanas performed the horse sacrifice to please their lineage deity Shiva. In the ancient puranic mythology this ghat has been eulogised as Rudrasara (“the water site of the Rudra/ Shiva”). According to another ancient mythology, lord Brahma (“the Creator”) performed ten (Dash-) horses’ (-ashva) sacrifice (-medha) at this site, hence the name. The Four-headed Brahmeshvara linga (b, upper site) is taken to be evidence for the veracity of the story. The Kashi Khanda (KKh, 52.1-10; 61.38) records many verses describing glory of this ghat. Till 18th century this ghat was widely spread, which later get divided into many ghats like Ahilyabai, Shitala, Prayaga and Ghoda Ghats. The other important divine images include Varaheshvara, Abhaya Vinayaka, the Ganga (“goddess”), and Bandi Devi. These images and shrines are linked to several important pilgrimage journeys. Balaji Bajirao built the present form of this ghat in 1738-40, and later in 1775 by Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore Estate. The present stone staired structure was built by the government of Uttar Pradesh in 1965.
Description and History and development[edit | edit source]
On both parts of the Dashashvamedha Ghat there are shrines of the Mother Ganga, river goddess. Walking around one can get an idea of religious activities and the associated shops selling ritual items. The next adjacent ghat (to the site b) was formerly known as Ashva/ Ghoda (“horse’) Ghat in the memory of the patron horse used in the horses’ sacrifice ritual held in the 2nd century. In 1979 in order to honour the first president of the Republic of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad (1950-1962), the ghat was named the Rajendra Prasad Ghat. On 10th light-half of Jyeshtha (May-June) the worship of the Ganga is celebrated on grand scale in the Ganga temple at the top of the ghat. This sacred day commemorates the coming of the Ganga on the earth (I.e. at Haridvara). The sacred bath on the occasions of solar and lunar eclipses, and also on the starting day of bath-ritual period in the months of Pausha and Magha (December-January), are important festive occasions at this place.
Present state of conservation[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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.
Ownership[edit | edit source]
Both sites of the Ghat (a and b)belong to the Municipal Corporation.