No Man Steps in the Same River Twice
Rivers are a lifeline for India’s rural population. The banks of a river serve many purposes. In transportation, they are ferry landing points, in agriculture a source of nourishment for their crops, for fishermen bread-and-butter, for villagers a source of sustenance, and for the seekers of peace and devotion a sanctuary of their religious beliefs.
There are many myths and stories associated with rivers that have made them sacred. In India, these places are called ghats, or a flight of steps leading down to a river. Lord Krishna, as a new-born baby, was carried across the flooded Yamuna river in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh; Shivalingas used for prayer are found at Omkareshwar next to the Narmada and Kaveri rivers in Madhya Pradesh; a dip in the Ganga at Haridwar all round the year or at the delta of the sacred river at Gangasagar in West Bengal during Makar Sakranti every January washes away one’s sins of a lifetime.
A thumbnail sketch of some holy places revered by Hindus:
UJJAIN INDIA’S GREENWICH
Ujjain is considered to be India’s ‘Greenwich’ as a prime meridian passes through it. According to ancient astronomers, the Tropic of Cancer passes through the city giving it an energy that makes a pilgrim’s journey a spiritual revelation.
Many bathing ghats are located along the banks of the Kshipra river at Ujjain located in Madhya Pradesh. Shri Ram Ghat, also known as Ram Ghat near the Harsiddhi Temple is the most ancient bathing ghat and is the most visited one during the Kumbh Mela held here every 12 years.
Narsingh Ghat is to the right of the famous Kark Raj Temple opposite Bhukimata Temple. The speciality of this temple is that it is located at the place where the Tropic of Cancer passes through Ujjain. This ghat was developed for devotees who come for Simhasth Mahakumbh for their holy bath. To reach this ghat a 500-metre-long road extends from the right side of a bridge located on the Ujjain-Chintaman Road.
Every 12 years during the Kumbh Mela along the city’s elaborate riverside ghats, thousands of devotees worship Goddess Kshipra, symbolizing purity, clarity and chastity.
The Nava Grah temple is a unique temple dedicated to the nine planets of the solar system. Located on the Triveni Ghat, it is a centre of attraction.
The three Mangalnath Ghats are near the bridge of Mangalnath Temple, on the right and left banks of the Kshipra. Siddhwat Ghat is near Siddhawat Temple, on the river’s left bank.
Rinmukteshwar Ghat is near Rin Mukteshwar Temple with an ancient statue of Lord Shiva’s main host Virbhadra. Other ghats are Bhukimata Ghat, Kabir Ghat, Datt Akhada Ghat, Chintaman Ghat, Prashanti Dham Ghat and Sunheri Ghat.