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Ghat usually a landing place at a riverbank or bank of a pond which is used by people (particularly Hindus) for bathing and other purification rituals. At the death of a Hindu, his/her nearest relations perform some purification rituals like shaving and bathing at the bank of a river or pond. This ritual is canonically called ghat and from this term has originated the general term ghat which is a place-name not only for bathing but also for communication and businesses. For this instance it is used as a landing place, where people and goods land from a boat or ship; usually also considered as a river-side trading point, where different river crafts such as country boats, steamers, launches can berth. The size of ghat differs widely depending on the importance of its location.

Boats moored at a ghat

For the traditional economy every major ghat was a pseudo-port where merchandise were loaded and unloaded.During Mughal period every substantive ghat was farmed out annually. Such farmers were then known as ghatwals. A ghatwal used to maintain his ghat and ensured security of the people visiting it by boat or otherwise. For his services the ghatwal collected fees from the users of the ghat.

The system of leasing out ghats to farmers was abolished under the Cornwallis Code of 1793. During the British period the most important ghats of Dhaka city were Sadar Ghat, Zinjira Ghat, Sair Ghat (now called Soari Ghat), Pagla Ghat and Mirpur Ghat.

Ferrying services developed at suitable points along both sides of the big rivers for transporting vehicle, goods and people are also called ghats. Aricha, Nagarbari, Daulatdia, Mawa and Bahadurabad ghats of Bangladesh are the best examples of this type. [Mohd Shamsul Alam]