Rajgaut. Benares. Sepr. 1814.
Artist: Smith, Robert (1787-1873)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of Raj Ghat at Varanasi (Benares) by Robert Smith (1787-1873) dated September 1814. This is one of 27 drawings (29 folios) of views made during a march from Benares (Varanasi) to Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, probably en route for Almora in 1814. Inscribed on the original cover is: 'No. XIII. Ganges & Luknow'. Captain Robert Smith was a military engineer with the East India Company and was in India from 1805 to 1833. He designed a number of buildings in India and also repaired various Indian monuments including the Kutb Minar and the Jami Masjid at Delhi.
Varanasi is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. Situated on a great bend in the River Ganges, the river banks are lined with continuous stone steps or ghats. Each of the hundred ghats has a lingam and occupies its own special place in the religious geography of the city. Early morning bathers occupy the ghats as do Brahmin priests offering puja and people practising meditation and yoga. Hindus regard the Ganges as amrita, the elixir of life, which brings purity to the living and salvation to the dead. Raj Ghat is the northernmost of the ghats of Varanasi.