Muhallas and localities of Kasi

Kasi is a very old city and it has a significant population of people of many castes and classes, of various states and regions, even of nations other than India. There are many muhallas and localities in Kasi that have their own identity. They have their old and well known names too.

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The image above left is the main lane/road of Bans Phatak that rises from Godowlia and goes on to Chowk. The one to the right is of the main lane of Daal Mandi that goes on to meet Nai Sadak. As far as I can guess, bans means bamboo, and phatak means gate; the literal meaning of the locality will then be “a/the gate of bamboo”. Similarly, daal means pulses, and mandi is the market place for selling it. As far as I know, the place was not famous for things of leguminous nature. There must be stories behind the nomenclature.


The image above is of the main road of Pandey Haweli. The haweli means mansion so the place must have (had) a mansion of somebody who was important and had the surname Pandey. The nearby locality of Tilbhandeshwar takes its name from the central temple/deity of the locality. Sonarpura means the abode of goldsmiths. Bangali Tola, even today is the place where the Bengalis live in Kasi, as a very highly dense population. Shivala means the temple of Lord Shiva. I don’t know which temple lent its name to the locality, because there’s no temple as central and popular as the Kedar or Vishwanath Temples there.

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Nawab Ganj main road can be seen in the image to the left above, and Kedar Ghat lane to the right. Now, nawab is some kind of baron and gunj means the locality established by him or in his name. Kedar Ghat is a famous temple ghat that one reaches walking on. The places close to the localities above are: Durga Kund, Kabir Nagar, Assi, Gurudham Colony, Mansarovar, Hanuman Ghat and Hadar Bag.

Durga Kund means the pond of Goddess Durga. Kabir Nagar takes its name from the famous poet-saint Kabir. Assi is the defining south end of Varanasi: the name of the nullah that meets Gangaji on the last pucca ghat with the same name. Gurudham means the abode of the guru. Mansarovar is from some lake or pond. It’s also the name of the famous mythical and geographically located lake of Mansarover near the Kailash mountain range. Hanuman Ghat, once more takes its name from the central temple of the area, and Hadar Bag must be Bengali in origin. Bag means garden and Hadar means belonging to one Hada.

Lohatiya (loha means iron) has shops selling iron wares. Gilat and Thatheri Bazar must have been some sort of markets for various things. Maidagin, Beniya and Macchodari get their names, as Professor Eck  points out in City of Light, from the lakes that used to be there once. So does Moti Jheel, that means the lake of the pearl or pearl lake.


The gali from which this snap was taken is Gauri Ganj. As Gauri is one of the avatars of Durgaji, it is a very confusing name for a predominantly Muslim locality. So is Madan Pura. Now, gunj may mean some kind of market, and pura must derive from the Sanskrit puri or dwelling/city. So, localities named on Hindu gods and persons now have a nearly negligible population of Hindus.

It would be really interesting to know how the names of localities in Kasi were thought and given, by whom and when, and how did the places change with time.


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