Manikarnika Ghat is one of the most famous and revered Ghats in Varanasi. Located on the banks of the river Ganga, it is considered to be one of the oldest and most important Ghats in the city. The ghat is known for the practice of Hindu cremation. It is believed that those who pass away in Varanasi and are cremated at the Manikarnika Ghat attain salvation and are freed from the cycle of rebirth and death.
Fuelled by this belief, thousands over the last many centuries have travelled to Varanasi, with a desire to die there.
It is a belief that Lord Shiva has given the blessing of eternal peace to this ghat.
The most significant thing about this ghat is that there is an ever-burning flame at the Temple, which is believed to have been created by Lord Shiva, and has been burning for over 3500 years!
At any given point of time, a funeral pyre is always burning at Manikarnika Ghat. Fires have never been quenched in Varanasi. When you are at the ghat, you feel this strange, accumulated energy of life and death. You don’t feel sad or terrified here, just a strange beautiful realization that that comes over you, – Life is so temporary so why do we concern ourselves with insignificant things?
There are many mystical tales associated with Manikarnika ghat.Legend is that Lord Shiva gave the boon of eternal peace to this ghat. With this, any departed soul that gets its last rites performed at this place, attains Moksha. Varanasi is perhaps the only city where people wish to die, as it gives them a chance to attain salvation.
There are a few more myths around how the Manikarnika came to be named so. One being that There are a few more myths around how the Manikarnika came to be named so. One being that Bhagwaan Vishnu dug a well (which is now known as the Manikarnika Kund) for Shiva and Parvati to bathe in. When Shiva was taking a bath, one of his earrings fell into the well and since then it has been known as Manikarnika (Mani refers to the jewel in the earring and Karnam to the ear).
At the Manikarnika Ghat, death is celebrated. Remorseful chants are sung every hour of the day and smoke engulfs the area day and night as dead bodies are cremated for eternal peace. This place will give you a serenity of mind and soul. It gives awareness of yourself. This place makes you feel that everything is so unreal and temporary while experiencing the most realistic feeling of being. Isnt that strange! One has to feel it to believe it.
With all its mystical aura, Manikarnika ghat certainly is a place where death is considered sacred. It helps one to shed one’s fear of death on a psychological level. Manikarnika reminds you of the inevitability of death and how temporary everything really is.
Here is a video of Manikarnika Ghat: