Assi Ghat is the southern most ghat in Varanasi where the Rivers Assi and Ganges join in confluence. It is a quiet ghat, popular with students from the close by Benares Hindu University, Hindu worshippers who bath before paying homage to Lord Shiva in the form of huge lingam situated under a peepal tree, and tourists who desire a quieter experience than that in central Varanasi.
Its origin is again bound up in Hindu folklore. The first legend states that after slaying Shumbh-Nishumbh, goddess Durga threw her sword away, and where it landed resulted in the emergence of a big stream ( the river Assi). Secondly, legends say that Lord Rudra was furious with Asuras. This fury has led him to slay eighty Asuras in a day. Eighty in Hindi would translate to Assi. So the place where these Assi (eighty) Asuras were slain, has been named as Assi Ghat.
Besides the river Ganges/Hooghly and traversing both sides of the mighty Howrah Bridge in Kolkata can be found the Mullick Ghat Flower Market, one of the largest flower markets in Asia. Both flowers and colour play substantial roles in the world of Hindu worship and everyday, in a fascinating spectacle of humanity, vendors and buyers meet to fulfill the spiritual requirement for flowers over west Bengal.
The market starts around 4 am in the morning with flower sellers from adjacent areas of Kolkata gathering with their colourful merchandise. The sellers displayed their merchandise – roses, marigolds, sunflowers, garden balsams and other flowers lay in all their colourful glory. There is utter chaos everywhere, the market is overcrowded, but the experience of seeing such a vibrant market is altogether unique. Quite obviously, the market becomes all the more booming during the festive and marriage seasons.
Mudras are gestures used in classical Indian dancing in order to visually convey both inner feelings as well as external events or activities. They also have a spiritual association where they facilitate the flow of energy in the subtle body and enhance the internal spiritual journey.
The alluvial mud plains of the river Ganges allow, for a matter of months, a magical canvas city to be fashioned which attracts up to 100 mllion visitors over its short lifespan. Following the visitors’ departure the river swells again with monsoon rains and the city returns to its natural subterranean landscape, all traces of human occupation swept aside in the currents. At the heart of the temporary festival-city-landscape is a confluence of rivers where the Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical underground Saraswati come together in a flourish of colour and energy. This is the spiritual heart of Prayag, today known as Allahabad.
The road to the island of Ganga Sagar, and its annual festival celebrating Makar Sankranti on 14th January, begins at the Esplanade bus station in Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal and ends at Harwood Point ferry crossing some 70 kilometres away.