Manikarnika Ghat, Benares (U.P.)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of Manikarnika Ghat at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh by an unknown artist between 1780 and 1820. Inscribed on the front in ink is: 'Munakana Ghat at Benares.'
The river banks at Varanasi 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. Manikarnika Ghat is Varanasi’s pre-eminent cremation ground and is perpetually crowded with funeral parties, as well as the Doms, its Untouchable guardians. The sacred well of Manikarnika Kund is said to have been dug by Vishnu with his discus and filled with his perspirations from his exertions creating the world, at the behest of Shiva.