The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Prayageshvara and Shulatankeshvara Temples
25º 18.388’ North and 83º 00.629’ East (Prayageshvara Temple). 25º 18.397’ North and 83º 00.631’ East (Shulatankeshvara Temple).
Exact location on a map
Prayageshvara at Prayaga Ghat Shulatankeshvara Temple (House no. D 17/ 111).
0.039ha (the ghats and nearby area)
-- The lower (a) and upper (b) parts of the Dashashvamedha Ghat get bifurcated by another ghat, the Prayaga Ghat which replicates the holy city of Prayaga (Allahabad), lying 128km west. It is believed that doing rituals and taking sacred bath here provide exactly the same relgious merit as those at Prayaga. Up to early mid 19th century a drain from Benia Talab to Godaulia (i.e. referred as Godavari from which derived Godaulia) before meeting to the Ganga was bifurcated into two streams and get separated by a small island. Later the drain has been filled up and converted into Godaulia-Dashashvamedha road – as existing today. This old route is shown on Prinsep’ map of 1822. After passage of time the old island converted into another ghat, Prayaga Ghat.
The temple at Prayaga ghat is utterly defunct, and mostly used only by boatmen who store their gear in its sanctum. Climbing on the porch of Prayaga ghat temple one can have an overview of the riverfront landscape. For the whole month of Magha (January-February) devotees, mostly ladies, use to take bath at this site. The ghat was renovated and built by queen of Dighapatia (Bengal), H. K. Devi in the early 19th century; which can be verified by the inscriptions available on the steps. Queen also built Prayageshvara temple at the same time. The temple consists only of an inner sanctum (garbhagriha). The inner sanctum consists of the images of the Pancayatana, viz. Vishnu, Surya, Ganesha, Durga and Shiva. The upper part of the temple is in the Nagara style. In 1977 Lalitanarayan Khandelvala (Bhagalpur, Bihar) has built the closeby steps with the marble. Close to it is the shrine of Shulatankeshvara, a huge linga, showing a self-manifested Shiva linga. This image replicates the patron deity of Prayaga. The inner sanctum is surrounded by about hundred lingas, almost all of them are votive established by the rich devotees. Other important images include Narayana, Hanuman, Bhairava, Kshetra Devi Ghantankara and Ganesha (Abhaya Vinayaka, one among the 56). 8.History and development (as under Col. 5):
Present state of conservation
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
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 temples are owned by their Temple Trusts; the ghat area by the Municipal Corporation.