Named after the goddess of bliss, Lalita Devi, the Lalita Ghat is situated near the Assi Ghat, the Manikarnika Ghat, and the famous and busiest Dasashwamedh Ghat- all found in the cultural city of Varanasi along the Ganges River. Lalita Devi is but one of the many epithets or nicknames of the goddess Parvati who is the Divine Mother and wife of Lord Shiva.
Lalita Ghat was built in 1841 by the late King of Nepal in the northern part of Varanasi that leads directly to the Ganges Keshav Temple located just a few steps away. The reddish wooden temple has a typical architectural design seen in most Kathmandu-style temples with a golden top, a symbolic trident of Lord Shiva and a bell used to call all worshippers. The round towers of the temple, called ‘chhatri’, are of typical Mughal architectural influence. Inside the temple, tourists will readily see the image of Pashupateshvara, one of Lord Shiva’s manifestations at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, Nepal. Erotic scenes are carved on wood embellishing the four doors and archways of the temple that was further decorated by geomagnetic architectural frames.
Just like any other continuous line of ghats leading to the Ganges River, Lalita Ghat, although smaller compared to its larger neighbor ghats, is another bathing spot for devotees and pilgrims who often partake in the traditional and ritualistic dip in the holy waters of the river Ganges. The belief that the miraculous river can absolve devotees and pilgrims of their sins before they are ready to worship their deities makes the whole vicinity of Varanasi, including Lalita Ghat, as one of Hinduism’s pilgrimage sites.
The ghat is affiliated with the lingam or a manifestation of Lord Shiva’s presence of Ganga Kesava, as well as the shrines of Lalita Devi, Ghagirath Tirtha, Gangatitya and Kasi Devi. Bathers, usually assisted by pilgrim priests, go directly to worship the gods and goddesses after spending time in ghat. The site is also known to be one of the favorite spots for painters and photographers. It was believed that Lalita Ghat was the location of the “Bathing Scene at a Ghat on the Ganges at Benares” immortalized in the 1840 oil painting by Sir Charles d’Oyly.
Although the ghat itself is narrow, it stands clearly visible and useful. The ghat can easily be seen through boat rides navigating the holy waters of the Ganges River. In order to reach the site, it is recommended to hire an auto-rickshaw or walk through the other ghats instead of navigating through the gullies, which can be dangerous at times. There are many landmarks to take note of to distinguish the place from the other ghats surrounding the vicinity such as the Nepalese Temple and the lingam where flowery offerings float in its water fountain.
The best time to visit Lalita Ghat is during religious and cultural festivals, where people come and enjoy the gaiety of musical shows, parties and games. The nearby Assi Ghat also provides some merriment to visitors of Lalita Ghat. Nevertheless, the site encourages peaceful meditation amongst visitors, devotees and pilgrims on typical days and a celebratory ambiance during festivals.