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 (particularly in the holy city of Varanasi) where stairs exist to access the Ganges River. 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. [ [http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_6-1-2005_pg7_23 Funeral pyre to be set up in Lahore - Daily Times Pakistan] ] The numerous significant ghats along the Ganges are known generally as the 'Varanasi ghats' and the 'ghats of the Ganges'. In Madhya Pradeshin western Indiathere are further significant ghats along the Narmada River.
When capitalized the term Ghats is used in reference to mountain ranges; thus the proper nouns
Western Ghatsand Eastern Ghatsrefer to two coastal ranges which converge in southern India, separated by the Deccan Plateau. Writers may also refer to a "Ganges River Ghat" running along the southern side of that same river and traversing eastern India towards Bangladesh. As Hindus recognize this river as Ganga, a goddess manifestation of the Mother, her 'steps' can be said to be metaphorical, poetic elevations of the goddess body.
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