The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Ganga Mahala and Rivan Ghat
25º 17.396’ North and 83º 00.377’ East (centre of Ganga Mahala Ghat)
Exact location on a map
Ganga Mahal, House No. B 2/ 1
This is the extended part of the Asi Ghat, characterised by the palatial building made in ca 1830 by the patronage of the king of Banaras, Prabhunarayan Singh. A stone steps between Asi and palace separates the two ghats. The architectural style of this palace is a wonderful mixture of Rajput style and the local traditional style.
A little further down extension was made by addition of another palatial house called Rivan Ghat which can distinctively be marked by the royal symbol at the gate opening towards the ghat. This building has two parts, the one part of palace and the other one auxiliary house. This ghat was earlier named after Lala Misir, a family priest of the king of Punjab Raja Ranjit Singh. In 1879 the king of Rivan has purchased this and made sufficient repairing. The northern and the southern porches are based on the joints of pillars. Both the sides there are stone steps. In 1955 the king of Banaras has donated this palace to Banaras Hindu University that uses it as dormitory for students of performance art and music. During 1985-2000 the ghat was fully covered by the siltation during annual flood. Thanks to a NGO, under the direction of Shanti Lal Jain, that the silt has been fully recovered and now there exists open space. Some of tea shops have occupied the area.
Present state of conservation
Except by the royal trust looking after Ganga Mahal, and the Banaras Hindu University, 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. The two institutions maintain their properties according to their own perspectives. However, the Ganga Mahal is better looked after by the foreign organisations.
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 Ganga Mahal palace is owned by the Maharani Trust of the king of Banaras; and the Rivan Mahal palace is owned by the Banaras Hindu University; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.