The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Upper part of Manikarnika Ghat
25º 18.714’ North and 83º 00.883’ East (Manikarnikeshvara Temple). 25º 18.702’ North and 83º 00.869’ East (Siddhi Vinayaka Temple).
Exact location on a map
Brahmnal, near Manikarnika Ghat
0.09ha (the ghats and nearby area)
-- Located at the top and reached by the steeply ascending lane south of the water pool is the temple of Manikarnikeshvara (Gomath Ashram, Brahmnal, CK 8/ 12), which is the first of the 108 shrines in the Panchakroshi pilgrimage route. It is located two storeys below the courtyard of the monastery. Here, the notion of the golden age becomes manifest as the pilgrim descends into the dark underground, down to the original, the “real” soil of the world. Says Eck (1982: 246), “The lingam of this temple – set dramatically underground at the bottom of a deep shaft – could at one time be reached by a tunnel originating on the ghat”. About 40m from the entrance point to the above ascending lane one will meet the shrine of Siddha (“perfection”) Vinayaka/ Ganesha (Brahmnal, Manikarnika Lane, CK 9/ 1) the right. He is the guard of the east and the giver of bliss, success and relief from the curse of Yama (the god of death). He is the 8th among the 56 Vinayakas who protects the city at all the 56 conjunctions made of 7 round spiral layers and 8 cardinal directions. Built in ca 1850 by the king of Amethy (Awadh, Uttar Pradesh), this Shiva-Durga temple is distinct with its five deep-red spires and gilded pinnacles. The temple is on a raised ground, ca 3.5m high from the nearby bank. Clambering up a side staircase, one passes under the Naubatkhana, where images of musicians are chanting praises of the goddess. On the right side of entrance is a fine bronze lion of Durga, and on the left Shiva’s bull. In the inner sanctum is the image of Mahisasuramardini. In the different portions of the temple there are images of the forms of Vishnu, like Varaha, Narasimha, Balarama, Krishna, and also are the goddess images of peacock riding, Vina carrying, and lion riding. No where on the wall there is any image of Shiva. There are many images depicting the life incidences of Krishna. The temple is an example of the Pancayatan style, the centre as the core and four other attached temples at the four corners. The quiet and cleanliness inside are a relief from the bustle, sloppiness and dirt, and somewhat sordid atmosphere of more popular Banaras shrines. 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.