Ghats of Lucknow: added charm to city’s landscape
Volume: 13, No: 10 ; October-2019
Lucknow is more than just a city – it’s an experience wherein everything unfolds into its own unique charm. The city is famous for its heritage that includes historical monuments that can mesmerize you with their architecture, food that can feed your soul and refined culture (vernacularly known as ‘tehzeeb’) quite unique to Lucknow. However, Lucknow has many more aspects to add to its beauty. One such is being its landscape. When drawing the picture of Lucknow’s landscape, the first thing which adds to the picture is River Gomti – the lifeline of Lucknow and the serene ghats (piers/jetty) which spread along with it. River Gomti, a looping river of the Ganges is one of the rivers that do not carry the burden of being “holy”, yet is revered as older than the most sacred river Ganges, that fertilized the Baghs (gardens) that sent medieval travelers into paroxysms of ecstasy. Nowhere else but on the southern banks of the Gomti could a unique interaction between a Persian dynasty, Indian natives, European adventurers and the East-India Company could have led to a tumultuous phase of history between 1732 and 1947, of which in 1857 the bloody siege of the Residency was a climax of all times.
You would be surprised to know that the flow of the river dictated the site of the architectural extravaganza like the Asfi Imambara, Sheesh Mahal, Dilkusha Palace and La Martiniere. All major Muslim monuments in Lucknow are actually built on the banks of Gomti, co-existing with Hindu ghats making another example of Awadh’s composite culture – Ganga-yamuni tehzeeb.
Ghats of Lucknow
The ghats that sit along the River Gomti, although not much talked about, are sights to explore. If you have wandering feet and a roving eye, you must not miss exploring these ghats of Lucknow. We enumerate a few renowned ones:
One of the ancient and sacred places in Lucknow, Kudia Ghat is one of the most famous ghats in Lucknow, located amidst peaceful surroundings. The ghat is named after Saint Kaundilya who is said to have set up his Ashram here during early times. The ghat was renovated in 1990. Here you can view a Shiva Temple built hundred years ago. The ghat has several attractions located nearby – like an age-old Iron Bridge – the heritage monuments of Lucknow, Clock Tower, Rumi Darwaza, Imambara, which add a lot more significance to this ghat. During the evenings this ghat comes alive with people coming here to take a stroll and indulge in the tranquillity of the place.
Kartik Poornima (full moon day in the ninth month of Hindu calendar colloquially known as Kartik) is an auspicious occasion for Hindus. On this day, the Hindus ensure a holy dip in any of the rivers they can reach. In Lucknow, during Kartik Poornima, devotees throng various ghats and the ghat which is considered most prominent to take this sacred dip is Devraha Ghat. The ghat derives its name from Baba Devraha who established the ghat.
Famous for Shani (God of Saturday) and Jhulelal (Incarnation of Lord Varuna) temple, Karounda Ghat spreads beside Devraha Ghat. The Sindhi (Hindu Migrants from Sindh, now in Pakistan) community in Lucknow mark the occasion of Chetti Chand, birth anniversary of Saint Jhulela on this Ghat. During the rituals, the devotees offer prayers in the Jhulelal Temple located here.
Another old ghat of Lucknow situated near Patang Park (Kite Park) was renovated by Rhini Devi Chunni Devi Trust. The Saraswati Temple located here is the major attraction, while Ganga snan (sacred Ganga bath) or Kartik Poornima witnesses huge crowds when people come here to take a holy dip in Adi Ganga (River Gomti is referred as ‘Adi Ganga’, being considered older than Ganges) , the mythological identity of River Gomti. Bhandara (community meal distribution) is also organised during the occasion.
Famous for its reclining Hanuman Temple, this ghat takes its name from Panchwati of Ramayna period where Sita lived in exile with Rama and Laxman. There was a lot of vegetation and greenery surrounding this ghat as Sita’s panchvati had vast flora around it.
Lallu Mal Ghat
This is almost hundred years old ghat, situated beside the Daliganj Bridge on River Gomti. Kartik Poornima, Chhat Pooja, Pitra Paksh and Amavasya draw huge crowds on this ghat. Well maintained, Lallu Mal Ghat has verandas, shelves and a Dharamshala (pilgrim lodge) where pilgrims can stay. Constructed by Lallu Nal Bhagwan Das Omar Vaishya this place is flanked by eighty year old Mahadev Narmadeshwar Temple on Kaccha Ghat and Pahadi Ghat.
Situated near the University of Lucknow this ghat is mainly used for the immersion of Goddess Durga and Ganesha idols. After Durga Pooja and Ganesha Pooja (festivals where idols are placed for worship and then immersed in rivers) and other regular occasions, the worship is not considered fruitful unless the idol of the deity is immersed in the rivers. Chhat Pooja, Makar Sankranti and Kartik Poornima or Ganga Snan also draw huge crowds to this ghat. Lucknow Municipal Corporation has developed Jhulelal Park on the ghat which has become the undeclared official place for all kinds of protests, hunger strikes, meetings and other such activities for voicing dissent on any subject.
However, no more ‘visarjan’ (idol immersion) activities are being carried out in the river Gomti. Instead, the Municipal Corporation of Lucknow arranges makeshift ponds on the bank during the time of such festivals to immerse the idols so that the river remains undisturbed and no environmental harm occurs without disturbing any traditions of immersing the idols in the river water.
Situated on the other side of Gomti, Pipra Ghat is considered as the old cremation ground of the city. Managed by the cantonment the present cremation ghat came up in 1960, known as Baikunth Dham or Bhainsa Kund. Now only about 10-15cremations are performed here in a month, as lot of activities have shifted to the new cremation centres that have better facilities and also electric crematorium. A temple built in 1950 in honour of Bharat Mata is another distinctive feature of this ghat.
Bhainsa Kund or Baikunth Dham Ghat
Baikunth Dham ghat is also known as Bhainsa (water buffalos) Kund, and has a fable behind it. One story goes, water buffalos while fighting fell into a pond here giving the place its name, while another version says, this area of Gomti bank was the grazing ground for water buffalos and the river here was shallow, just apt for buffalos to bathe in the water of Gomti river. Yet another relates to the version of water buffalo being the transport of Yamraj (God of Death), thus this cremation ghat is known as Bhainsa Kund. Some fifteen years ago the ghat had scarce facilities but a corporate house, Sahara renovated it with all the necessary arrangements for a modern cremation ghat.
Also known as Muktidham, Gulala Ghat is another old place for cremation and burial. This ghat has Hindu Lord Mahakal, Lord Shiva and Lord Bhairon temples. Arrangement and availability of the material required to perform the last rites is available within it and usually people of old city use this as their preferred cremation ghat instead of Baikunth Dham.
Kala Kothi Ghat
Famous for its Shani Temple, Kala Kothi Ghat is located near the Kudia Ghat. Temples dedicated to Lord Hanumana, Goddess Kali and Lord Kal Kuteshwar Mahadev are located here. The Ghat is named after a building located nearby named, Kala (art), which was earlier famous as Qila Kothi (palace). During the times of Nawabs, music and dance performances were regularly held at this kothi. A Shiva temple was established by the second Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh – Dr. Sampoornanad.
Chat Mela Ghat
The Ghat is a part of the famous Laxman Mela ground in Lucknow, Laxman mela ground itself is a bank. It is the Ghat where two day fair is held on the occasion, thus it gets its name. Chhat Puja is a festival predominantly celebrated by people hailing from the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh and all of Bihar.
New River Front Development
There is a modern time riverside attraction added to the city – Gomti Riverfront – just a modern-day celebration of river and an improvised entertainment ghat. It was built under the pursuit of renovating and development of River Gomti as a public space. The lush Green surroundings, which include park, cycling track and riverside structures, have been created keeping with International Standards. The park stretches over 2 km in the area. The predominant enchantment of the place is the musical fountain, which can be seen from both aspects of the river. It lets the visitors experience the splendor of River Gomti. It has become a favored recreation spot in the city owing to its pristine location and serene environs. A walk or a leisurely stroll here is an activity that visitors can look forward to.
Every place has a story to tell and so does these ghats. So, when you are in Lucknow and looking around for some aesthetic experience – you can set out with us to explore these hush ghats of Lucknow.