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As used in many parts of South Asia, the term ghat (Bengali: ঘাট ghaţ, Hindi: घाट "steps") refers to a series of steps leading down to a body of water. In Bengali-speaking regions, this set of stairs can lead down to something as small as a pond or as large as a major river.

In English- and/or Hindi-speaking areas 'ghats' refers to the areas, in the holy river-side cities like Haridwar, Varanasi) where stairs exist to access the Ganges River. The numerous significant ghats along the Ganges are known generally as the 'Varanasi ghats' and the 'ghats of the Ganges'. In Madhya Pradesh in western India there are further significant ghats along the Narmada River.

Shamshan ghats

Burning ghats of Manikarnika, at Varanasi, India
Burning ghats in Kathmandu, Nepal

Ghats such as these are useful for both mundane purposes (such as cleaning) and religious rites (ie., ritual bathing or ablutions); there are also specific 'Shamshan ghats' or 'cremation ghats' where bodies are cremated waterside, allowing ashes to be washed away by rivers, noted ghats are Nigambodh Ghat in Delhi by the Yamuna River, and the Manikarnika Ghat at Varanasi.[1]

Other uses

In Marathi, ghat is a term for a difficult passage over a mountain.[2] One such ghat is the Bhor Ghat connecting the towns Khopoli and Khandala, on NH 4 about 80 km north of Mumbai.

In many cases, the term is used to refer to a mountain range itself, as in the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.

References

  1. ^ Funeral pyre to be set up in Lahore - Daily Times Pakistan
  2. ^ Navneet Marathi English Dictionary, published by Navneet Publications (India) Limited, Mumbai. 400028. [1]



1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

GHATS, or Ghauts (literally "the Landing Stairs" from the sea, or "Passes"), two ranges of mountains extending along the eastern and western shores of the Indian peninsula. The word properly applies to the passes through the mountains, but from an early date was transferred by Europeans to the mountains themselves.

The Eastern Ghats run in fragmentary spurs and ranges down the Madras coast. They begin in the Orissa district of Balasore, pass southwards through Cuttack and Puri, enter the Madras presidency in Ganjam, and sweep southwards through the districts of Vizagapatam, Godavari, Nellore, Chingleput, South Arcot, Trichinopoly and Tinnevelly. They run at a distance of 50 to 150 m. from the coast, except in Ganjam and Vizagapatam, where in places they almost abut on the Bay of Bengal. Their geological formation is granite, with gneiss and mica slate, with clay slate, hornblende and primitive limestone overlying. The average elevation is about 1500 ft., but several hills in Ganjam are between 4000 and 5000 ft. high. For the most part there is a broad expanse of low land between their base and the sea, and their line is pierced by the Godavari, Kistna and Cauvery rivers.

The Western Ghats (Sahyadri in Sanskrit) start from the south of the Tapti valley, and run south through the districts of Khandesh, Nasik, Thana, Satara, Ratnagiri, Kanara and Malabar, and the states of Cochin and Travancore, meeting the Eastern Ghats at an angle near Cape Comorin. The range of the Western Ghats extends uninterruptedly, with the exception of a gap or valley 25 m. across, known as the Palghat gap, through which runs the principal, railway of the south of India. The length of the range is Boo m. from the Tapti to the Palghat gap, and south of this about 200 m. to the extreme south of the peninsula. In many parts there is only a narrow strip of coast between the hills and the sea; at one point they rise in magnificent precipices and headlands out of the ocean. The average elevation is 3000 ft., precipitous on the western side facing the sea, but with a more gradual slope on the east to the plains below. The highest peaks in the northern section are Kalsubai, 5427 ft.; Harischandragarh, 4691 ft.; and Mahabaleshwar, where is the summer capital of the government of Bombay, 4700 ft. South of Mahabaleshwar the elevation diminishes, but again increases, and attains its maximum towards Coorg, where the highest peaks vary from 5500 to 7000 ft., and where the main range joins the interior Nilgiri hills. South of the Palghat gap, the peaks of the Western Ghats rise as high as 8000 ft. The geological formation is trap in the northern and gneiss in the southern section.


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