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 Scindia Ghat is one of the prominent ghats.
One of the most picturesque ghats of Varanasi, Scindia Ghat, is unique in more ways than one. It is identified by the tilted Shiva temple, which lies partially submerged in the Ganga. The sheer weight of the ghat which was built more than 150 years ago caused the temple to tilt and move deeper into the water. It is believed the temple is sinking continuously since then and it will eventually be submerged in the water.
The Ghat is named after the Scindias, who built it in 1830. Scindia Ghat, also known as Shinde Ghat, borders the famous Manikarnika Ghat to the north. Above the Ghat, several of Kashi’s most influential shrines are located within the tight maze of alleys of Siddha Kshetra (Field of Fulfillment). These shrines are dedicated to Annapurna, Ankatha, Mritunjay Mahadev, Tulsi Manas and Sankatmochan.
According to tradition, Agni, the Hindu God of Fire was born here. Hindu devotees at this place offer prayers to Vireshwara, the Lord of all heroes, in the hope of being blessed with a son. Devotees arrive at the Ghat early in the morning for meditation and prayers. People come to this Ghat from all the corners of the country for taking a holy bath in the river Ganga in the belief that this will rid them of all their past sins.
There is always a steady flow of sightseers who come to get a view of the submerged temple. Boating alongside Scindia Ghat is also a favourite tourist attraction. Boat rides are recommended as early morning or late evening activities.