Vishnu Temple, Benares.
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Vishnu Temple and the Manikarnika ghat at Varanasi from the 'Earl of Jersey collection' was taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s. Varanasi is considered to be one of the Saptapuri, or the seven sacred cities. It is situated on the Ganges River at a place where it bends to the north, considered to be an auspicious direction. Much of the religious life of the city revolves around the ghats. Hindus believe that bathing here purifies them of sin. The modern city is congested with narrow lanes only a few feet wide. The large number of temples in the city is partly due to the fact that endowing and building a temple is seen as a meritorious act.
This is the main cremation ghat of Varanasi. In the middle of the Ghat is the Manikarnika kund (tank) which was said to have been dug by Vishnu with his discus and filled with his perspiration from the exertion of creating the world. There are footprints of Vishnu set in a circular marble slab on the ghats. According to legend, Shiva's mani (crest jewel) and his consort Parvati's Karnika (earring) fell into the kund while bathing thus came the name of the ghat.