India is a country of ghats: the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats. India is a country of ghats on rivers and lakes for example the Munikurmika Ghat in Benares. Ghat is a word of Indian origin: Hindi. Ghat has four distinct meanings:
- Ghat is a mountain pass in India.
- A chain of mountains especially either of the Ghats ranges
- A broad flight of steps leading down to a river landing for ritual bathers. A broad of flight of steps that is situated on an Indian riverbank and that provides access to the water especially for bathing, for offering a prayer in the river, or for any other religious ritual. A flight of steps leading to a lakeside.
- Ghats in plural sense refer to a level area at the top of a river ghat on which Hindus cremate the dead such as in Benares.
The archaic spelling of ghat is ghaut
Ghats in upper case refers to proper nouns such as the two mountain ranges along the coasts of southern India: the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. The Western Ghats are higher and longer than the Eastern Ghats.
Ghat is a mountain pass, and usually the roads passing through the ghats in southern and western India are eponymously named by adding ghat: Mahabaleshwar and Pancgani Ghat Roads in Sahyadri range in the Western Ghats, Kalhatti Ghat Road in Tamil Nadu, Kadapa Ghat Road and Tirumala-Tirupati Ghat Road in Andhra Pradesh among others. But in northern India, the ghats are usually referred as mountain passes.
“The temples and shrines, ashrams and pavilions that stretch along the river for over three miles are golden in the early morning. They rise majestic on the high riverbank and cast deep reflections into the waters of the Ganges. Long flights of stone steps called ghāts, reaching like roots into the river, bring thousands of worshippers down to the river to bathe at dawn.” –BANARAS: CITY OF LIGHT by Diana L. Eck
In the Nilgiris district of Tamil in southern India, there are five ghat raods to reach its headquarters Ooty. Ooty, Kotagiri, Coonoor, and the other towns and villages in the Nilgiris district are connected to the surrounding towns of Tamil Nadu, and the states of Kerala and Karnataka, in southern Indian through five ghat roads. Most of the Nilgiris district is located in the Nilgiri Hills, which is part of the Western Ghats. The ghats roads to the district pass through forests and steep slopes and contain a number of sharp hair-pin bends. The major five ghat roads to the district are: Ooty-Kotagiri Ghat Road, Coonoor Ghat Road, Gudalur Ghat Road, Sigur Ghat Road, and Manjur Ghat Road.