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Ghat, is a strikingly picturesque object, and does not fail to arrest the attention of every visitor to this quarter of the city. In its external appearance, it is altogether unlike the shrines erected by the Hindus for the practice of their religion.
To the south of the Man-Mandil Ghat is the Dasasamedh Ghat, a spot exceedingly venerated by the natives of the city, as well as by pilgrims and devotees, and much frequented for its supposed sanctity. It is one of the five celebrated places of pilgrimage in Benares. The other four are Asi Sangam, Manikarnika, Panchganga, and Barna Sangam. These five places, in addition to their proper attractions, are associated together, and furnish the devotee with a complete course of pilgrimage, in the same manner as a journey to Jagannath, or Gaya, or Benares, or Hardwar, is regarded as such. Proceeding from Asi Ghat or Sangam, at the extreme south of the city, the pilgrim, having already performed proper religious ceremonies at this ghat, arrives at Dasasamedh, and worships the gods in the temple there, and, passing thence to Manikarnika, bathes in the well. Having done this, he advances to Panchganga, and on to Barna Sangam, the northern extremity of the city, at both which places he bestows the customary offerings, and pays reverence to the deities peculiar to them. He has thus traversed the city from south to north, having kept upon the bank of the river throughout the whole distance, and passed over every ghat. This pilgrimage is called the Panch-tirth, to perform which is considered a very meritorious act.
The legend connected with the Dasasamedh temple and ghat, as the foundation of the sanctity of both, and on account of which the Hindus regard them as the very gateway to heaven, must not be omitted here. It is another of the legends connected with the famous Divodas. It is said that Siva and Gauri (his wife) were sitting together, one day, on the Mandarachal mountain, when the former exhibited great distress of mind at not having received any intelligence from Benares for some time. The city was then in the hands of Raja Divodas, who, as already narrated, on accepting its sovereignty, had expelled from it all the gods, and Siva, the head of them all, amongst the number. Although Siva had sent several persons, successively, to inquire into the state of the city, yet none of them had returned; inasmuch as, on reaching it, every one had been so captivated with its tranquillity and blessedness, as to have been powerless to quit so happy a region. In his anxiety, Siva thought to himself, that, should I send Brahma (the first god of the Hindu triad), who is a dear friend of mine, he will, without fail, bring me word again about its condition. He then fixed his thoughts on Brahma, who, in obedience to the secret summons, was immediately at his side. On arriving, Siva unburthened his mind to him, and wished him to proceed to Benares, and, when there, to devise some plan for the expulsion of Raja Divodas from the government of the city. Brahma was quite ready to do what he could towards assisting his friend, and so took his departure for Benares, mounted on a goose. On reaching the holy city, he was enraptured with its appearance. He went all about it, and visited its temples, bazars, and ghats, with ever-increasing delight, and, at last, selected a spot for his own residence, and transformed himself into the form of an aged Brahman. After a time he sought an interview with the Raja, and was received by him with much respect. The Raja begged he would ask of him whatever he wished to have. Brahma replied to this kind solicitation, that he would take nothing from him, but that he had come to Benares for the performance of ascetic rites. While conversing together, it struck Brahma, that, if he could cause the Raja to commit a sin, no matter how small, he would‘ be obliged to lay down his authority over the sacred place, and to quit the kingdom. He, therefore, requested the Raja to give him all the essential materials for a special sacrifice, hoping that some little mistake would be made in the number or quality of them. These materials consisted of water taken from twenty-seven wells, leaves plucked from twenty-seven trees, and a multitude of other ingradients, twenty-seven times told, and derived from twenty-seven different sources. The Baja, in reply, said, “Good, take materials, not for one sacrifice merely, but for ten.” Presently, Brahma left the Baja, and went and sat down upon the banks of the Ganges, where materials for ten such sacrifices were brought to him. Not one ingredient was missing; all were perfectly complete. Brahma then offered the ten sacrifices; and at each of them, a horse was consumed. The spot on which the ten sacrifices were offered Brahma called Dasaswamedha Ghat, or ghat of the ten horse-sacrifices,—from data, ten ; aéwa, a horse; and medlla, sacrifice,—which became, thenceforward, in Hindu estimation, a place of eminent sanctity, and endued with the power of conferring a multitude of blessings on all who sacrificed and bathed there. Brahma constituted Dasasamedh the prince of places of pilgrimage, equal to Prayag (Allahabad). Should a Hindu, therefore, wishing to proceed to Prayag, at the time of the meld or religious festival there, not be able to undertake the journey, he may, at this ghat, obtain all the merit which he would have acquired, had he actually completed the pilgrimage to Prayag, and bathed at the sacred junction of the Ganges and the Jumna. Brahma also dedicated two images in honour of Siva, one of which he called Dasaswamedheswar, and the other, Brahmeswar. The former is a plain black stone, of enormous dimensions, being not less than five or six feet in girth, and three or four in height, in front of which is a bull, also of large proportions. The other image is much smaller. Whoever worships Dasaswamedheswar will, it is supposed, escape all future transmigration; and his soul, instead of passing into a man, a mouse, or a frog, will go straight to paradise,—-that is, the heaven of Siva. In like manner, he who worships Brahmeswar will,