"Manikarnika Ghat (Bis.)" Top 5 Page for this destination India Things to Do Tip by Hmmmm
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The Manikarnika Ghat is the other cremation ground, which is more popularly used by the people. Since Shiva is said to have resided in Varanasi, the entire holy area is considered Mahashmashana (great cremation ground). It is said that the funeral fires never die at the Manikarnika ghat, and in my experience this seems to be the case. Fires burn all day and all night, prayers and sung all day and night, and the smell of fire wafts over the ghats all day and all night.
Doms are the untouchables, who handle the corpses at cremation grounds. Though the Doms belong to a lower caste, their services are invaluable for the dead to be released from their physical bonds. I was told that the leader of the doms is given the title of `Raja’ or king. His house is Huge, and the locals imply that he only cares about money. The doms are allowed to collect the jewellery left behind after a cremation, when the body's ashes are cast into the Ganga.
I was told that being cremated at Manikarnika ghat is very very auspicious. It is definately one of the most expensive places in all of India to be cremated. One must pay for everything. Most notably is wood, that is shipped up the Ganga on boats. One buys it by weight. There are three kinds of wood. All are different prices. Banyan is the most expensive, Mango is the cheapest. I assume this controlled by the Raja or the Dom King.
Manikarnika Ghat is definately an exercised in Humility, Humanity, mortality and the circularity in Life. I thought that I would be shocked as I saw a dom break the legs of a burning corpse and throw them back in the fire. But I wasn't. I was just thrust into a state of semi-meditation. I was forced to confront the very thing that we never like to confront: Death. It wasn't shocking. It was peaceful, comfortable. I felt the words of Bryce Courtney; Life is tick, tock, tick, tock, death. And that is the way it is.
I feel one owes it to themselves to spend a day at Manikarnika Ghat.
Directions: Just follow the labyrith of lanes in the old city, or better still follow a procession of sorts - odds are they are heading toward the ghats. Fact the walk is outstanding.
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