The Manikarnika Ghat, like all the other ghats in Varanasi, is surrounded by a fascinating mythical story that also explains how it got its name.
When Goddess Adi Shakti, or Goddess Sati, leaped into the flames and immolated herself, Lord Shiva is said to have transported her burning remains to the Himalayas. He was engulfed in interminable grief there. Lord Vishnu, moved by his misery, unleashed his Divine Chakra (one of his weapons), severing Goddess Adi Shakti’s body into 51 parts. Each of the locations where her fragments fell on Earth was designated as a Shakti Peeth. Because her earrings dropped at this ghat, it was designated as a Shakti Peeth and named Manikarnika, as Manikarna means earrings in Sanskrit. It is where the idol of Manikarnika Devi is situated.
Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi and has been given the highest ranking among other ghats by Hindu sacred books. If a person is cremated here, it is said that he immediately attains moksha (salvation). The Scindia Ghat and the Dashashwamedh Ghat surround it.