Varanasi, earlier known as Benares, is one of the holiest cities of India and is identified by its numerous temples and ghats. Kashi, as it is traditionally called, is highly revered by Hindus and Jains. The famous ghats of Varanasi are set on the banks of the Ganges, a river held sacred by Hindus. The ghats offer themselves as preferred site for performing a variety of religious rituals. River Ganges, or the Ganga, holds a special significance in Hinduism and devotees look upon it as a goddess or a divine being. It is believed that Ganga was sent to the earth to help civilization flourish and so is considered to be a lifeline for humankind in more ways than one. It is the presence of the Ganga, along with other beliefs, that make Varanasi a holy city.
To facilitate easy access to the river, the city has many ghats, which are basically a series of steps which lead to the water. There are close to a hundred ghats along the river Ganges. Most ghats are associated with legends or mythology while some ghats are privately owned. Morning boat ride on the Ganges across the ghats is a popular visitor attraction. Most of the ghats are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two are exclusively for the purpose of cremation.
Of the 87 well-known ghats of Varanasi Mansarovar Ghat is one of the prominent ghats.
Mansarovar Ghat was built by Raja Man Singh of Amber around 1585 AD. Inspired by the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet, the king created a pool and named it Mansarovar Kund. Devotees believe that visiting this Kund is as auspicious as visiting the Mansarovar Lake itself.
In due course of time the nearby ghat also came to be known by the same name. Over the years Mansarovar Ghat was rebuilt several times by descendants of Raja Man Singh. Later the government also contributed to its upkeep. Eventually as the Ghat gained prominence it was cemented so as to handle the increasing footfall. Sadly, this resulted in the pool shrinking in size. Ultimately, it got reduced to a well and is now known as Mansarovar Kupa.
Later, part of the Ghat was bought by the Kumaraswamy Mutt. Now the Mutt has built several rest houses and praying areas for pilgrims.