The Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi, and is revered by Hindus as a Shakti Peeth. It is believed that Sati Devi's earrings had fallen at this spot when her husband Shiva carried her corpse and performed the Tandava, the dance of destruction across the universe. Lord Vishnu then cut her body into 51 parts which fell on Earth and formed sacred sites, known as Shakti Peethas, where devotees could pay obeisance to the goddess.
The Manikarnika Ghat is the main burning Ghat and thus, held as the most auspicious place of cremation for Hindus. Above the steps of the Ghat is a tank known as the Manikarnika Well. Mythology holds that the goddess Parvati dropped her earring here. Shiva dug the tank to recover it, and filled the depression with his sweat.
The smoke that envelops Manikarnika Ghat and elegiac chants sung here at all hours of the day lend it a macabre magnificence as a spot where death rituals are performed in all their glory. It is also believed that the current era of human life (Kalyug) will come to an end if the the eternal flame, burning on this ghat should douse.
At the Brijrama Palace, arrangements can be made for guests to visit Manikarnika Ghat by boat. While the trip to Dashashwamedh Ghat combines a brief visit to this Ghat, special trips can also be arranged on request.