The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Durga and Brahma Ghats
25º 19.029’ North and 83º 01.126’ East (Durga Ghat, centre). 25º 19.067’ North and 83º 01.145’ East (Brahma Ghat, centre).
Exact location on a map
Durga and Brahma Ghats
In the northern side of the upper part there is a temple of Brahmacarini Durga (no. K 22/ 17), from where the name of the ghat derived, i.e. Durga Ghat. The 17th century text, Giravana-padamanjari has described this ghat. In 1742 Narayana dikshita, a guru of Peshvas, had purchased land from local resident fishermen and built two ghat: Durga and succeeding one, Brahma Ghats. This was rebuilt and repaired in 1830 by Nana Phadanavisa, a finance secretary (Divan) of Gwalior Estate, whose building at the top of the ghat is known as Phadanivisa Wada. At the ghat exist the two water-front sacred spots, i.e. Markandeya and Kharva Narasimha Tirthas, and at the top is the shrine of Kharva Narasimha. In 1958 the government of Uttar Pradesh has repaired and rebuilt the ghat. The steps from the ghat leading to the upper part are built in an archetypal frame, i.e. after nine steps there lies a platform, the steps symbolise the nine forms of Durga. This ghat is an active place for religious festivities, and also for annual competition of fighting, wrestling and mettle in the month of Karttika (October/November)..
The existence of the 13th century image of Brahma in the climbing steps and temple of Brahmeshvara (no. K 22/ 82), together honoured by giving name to this ghat as Brahma Ghat. According to a tale when first Brahma came to this city, he had settled at this ghat. Together with Durga Ghat this ghat was made pucca by Narayana Dikshita in 1742. There are two lanes of climbing steps, and both are made on the archetypal frame. In the lane leading to Brahmeshvara Shiva temple, each after five steps there is a platform; the number five symbolise the five gross element of organic reality controlled by Shiva (i.e. earth, water, fire, sky and air). In the lane leading to Brahma, each after four there is a platform; the number four symbolise the four mouths of Brahma, i.e. four directions. There are two water-front sacred spots near the bank, viz. Bhairava and Vindu Madhav Tirthas. One of the notable buildings is Shri Kashi Math Samsthan: Sudhindra Tirtha Svami, belonging to Gauda Sarasvata Brahmin community of south India. On the terraces of this monastery are the temples of Vindu Madhava (II) and Lakshmi Narasimha. It is believed that in the 8th century when Shankara came to Kashi, he stayed here.
Present state of conservation
Except by the temple organisation that taking care of its properties, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The temple trust maintains its 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 properties along the ghat are owned by the respective trust; the houses and other properties by the inhabitants; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.