The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Mir Ghat
25º 18.549’ North and 83º 00.653’ East (Mir Ghat, centre).
Exact location on a map
This ghat represents two old sites of Jarasandheshvara and Vriddhaditya, which were converted by Mir Rutam Ali in 1735. The 17th century text Giravana-padamanjari mentions Jarasandheshvara Ghat. Of course the images of Jarasandheshvara and Vridhhaditya are plastered in the old walls of the lanes, in the name of these two images most of the pilgrims of Pancakroshi or Antargriha Yatra throw flowers and raw-rice in the Ganga. In one of the letters written by Sadashiva Naik, the representative of the Peshvas, reference of Mir Rustam Alsi is mentioned who patronised to build the ghat. In other sources it is also mentioned that the founder of the king family of Banaras, Balwant Singh has destroyed the fort of Mir Rustam Ali at Mir Ghat and by its debris built his fort across the river, Ramanagar, in 1763. After passage of time the ghat is commonly called Mir Ghat; even James Prinsep (1822) as mentioned it by this name. The shrines and images in the vicinity are Vriddhaditya, Asha Vinayaka, Yajna Varaha, Ananda Bhairava, Bare Hanuman and Vishalakshi (“The Wide-Eyed”, one of the 52 Shaktipithas). Another important site is Dharmakupa, consisting of a sacred well surrounded by five temples and small shrines; in one of the temples there are images of Divodasheshvara, Vishvabahuka, and Vindhyavasini. The nearby temple of Dharmesh is associated to the myth of Yama’s (Lord of Death) power over the fate of the dead everywhere on the earth, except in Kashi (KKh, 78, 79, 81). The temple of Vishalakshi is one among the two temples built in pure Dravid Style marked with a large number of miniature statures, poses, spire, inner sanctum, circumambulatory path. There are two monasteries at the ghat. The one called Bhajanashram (D 3/ 24) provides shelter to Bengali widows, and serves as hospice, and managed by Ganapatrai Khemaka Trust of Kolkata. The other monastery belongs to Sikh Panth, which provides free food everyday (bhandara) and distribute medicine to the poor.
Present state of conservation
Except by the temple trusts directly taking care of its properties, there are no specific action plans, programmes and strategies for conservation and preservation of the ghats. The trusts maintain their properties according to their own perspectives without specific plans.
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 trusts; the houses and other properties by the inhabitants; and the ghat area is owned by the Municipal Corporation.