The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Shitala Temple and Ghat
25º 18.375’ North and 83º 00.591’ East (Shitala Temple, centre).
Exact location on a map
Shitala Temple and the Ghat
0.042ha (the ghat and nearby area)
-- The Ghat is known after the Shitala temple (house No. D 18/ 19). This ghat marks the southern limit of the Dashashvamedha Ghat. In ca 1740-42 the Ghat was made stone stepped by the patronage of queen Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore (central India), under the direction of Nayayana Dikshita, the preceptor of Bajirao Peshva -I. Later this portion of Ghat called Shitala Ghat. In 1831 James Prinsep described this Ghat by the present name. According to puranic sources, close to the bank exists one of the Jala Tirtha, eulogised as Dashashvamedha Tirtha. The ghat was renovated and repaired by the government of Uttar Pradesh in 1958.
=== Description and History ===: In the temple compound of the Shitala there are two puranic images of Shiva, viz. Dashashavamedheshvara and Dashahareshvara. The uniqueness of the temple is its flat roof; it is without spire. Rectangular in shape there are entrances from the three sides in the compound, the main one is from the northern side; however the entrance to the temple is east-facing. There are many small shrines in the compound, containing images of Durga, Kali, Annapurna, Santoshi Mata, Umamaheshvara, Bhairava and Rama (panchayatana). In the main shrine on a raised platform is the image of Durga. On the 8th light-half of lunar months of Chaitra, Vaishakha, Jyeshtha, and Ashadha (March-July) and Ashvina (September-October), people celebrate the festival of Shitala Ashthami (“8th day”). The same festival also occurs at Adi Sitala (ghat no. 71) in the north. . Another important occasion happening at this ghat is the special worship after the newly married couples. The couple and close family members (mostly women) come here for the completion of vow taken by mother of the groom to present “ar par ki mala” (garlanding the Ganga), from west to the east bank through the help of a boat. The garland is knotted at the site at west bank, and slowly the boat passes and the rope with marigold flowers is dropped in the river. Reaching to the other end the garland will again be fixed there. That is hoe devotees garland the mother Ganga river. After performing rituals there, the family returns by the same boat and finally performs the concluding rituals in the temple of Shitala. Performance of the Ganga Arati (offering oil lamps to the Ganga) in the evening and morning is also an old tradition.
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 Shitala temple complex owned by the Shitala Temple Trust; the ghat area by the Municipal Corporation.