The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Lal Ghat and Hanuman Garhi Ghat
25º 19.198’ North and 83º 01.232’ East (Lal Ghat, centre). 25º 19.049’ North and 83º 01.210’ East (Gopreksheshvara temple). 25º 19.228’ North and 83º 01.261’ East (Hanuman Garhi Ghat, centre).
Exact location on a map
Lal Ghat and Hanuman Garhi Ghat
The southern part of Lal Ghat was made pucca in ca 1812 by the king of Tijara (Rajasthan); a large house there is a testimony to his noble task. In 1935 Baldeodas Birla purchased the ghat area and the nearby buildings for his stay in Kashi. He built the ghat pucca and also a mansion there. He has also made a distinct ghat called Gopi Govind Ghat at the top of which exists a rest house for pilgrims, and also many other buildings (K 4/22, 23, 44 and 45). In the upper part attached to a niche the inscription reads “Lal Ghat Vishnupad rebuilt in 1935 by Raja Baldeodas Birla”. In one of the buildings runs Baldeodas Birla Sanskrit School, the nearby other used as dormitory for students. Food and shelter, both provided free of cost to students and ascetics from the Birla Trust. The northern and southern portions of the ghat were open earth till 1988 and were used as site for washing cloths by washermen. After construction of these portions complete pucca by the irrigation department of the government of Uttar Pradesh the practice of washing cloths reduced. The most prominent temple of this area is Gopreksheshvara. In the whole month of Magha (January-February) this ghat and temple attract a good mass of devout Hindus for sacred bath and worship in the above temple.
Till 1950 Hanumangarhi Ghat was southern part of Gai Ghat. A holy man Shyamalal Mahatyagi, resident of Bihar and having affinity to the Hanumangarhi temple of Ayodhya, was living here who built a Hanuman temple. After passage of time this has been called as Hanumangarhi Ghat. In 1972 one of the disciples of Shyamalal, named Tekacand Shahu has made the ghat pucca. In 1980 another disciple, Ramana Mahatyagi has built a commemorative monastery in honour of his guru called Mahatyagi Ashram that runs the temple and the ashram. In this ashram together with proving food and shelter to students of Sanskrit, there is an arrangement for giving education and training in Yoga, Tantra, astronomy and old Sanskrit texts. In the upper part are the wrestling site, the Ganga Akhara, and a memorial Sati stone.
Present state of conservation
Except by the two trusts that taking care of its properties, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The trusts maintain 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 trust related properties along the ghat are owned by the respective trusts; the houses and other properties by the inhabitants; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.