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Kashi Vishwanath

Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi

Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi

Varanasi is the city of thousand temples. The main temple in Varanasi is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Varanasi. Situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi, the temple of Vishwanatha can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple enshrines the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple attracts visitors not only from India but as well as from abroad.

History of Kashi Vishwanath Temple

It is believed that the Jyotirlinga in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple goes back to the time of the epics. According to a legend, the Lord Shiva manifested himself in the from of a lingam at 12 holy cities in India, Varanasi being one of them. These lingams were known as Jyotirlingams. The city was destroyed in 1193 by Mohammed Ghori and nearly 600 years later ended with the plunder of Banaras by Warren Hastings. Due to all these happenings, the temple was rebuilt a number of times. The original temple was located across the road. This temple was destroyed in 1669 by the Emperor Aurangzeb who built the Gyanvapi Mosque on this place. The traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. Aurangzeb built the Gaynvapi Mosque by using columns from the original temple razed by him. Even today the western wall of the mosque show the minarets towering 71 meters above the Ganges of a temple which had very intricate and fine artwork on it. Both the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and the Gyanvapi mosque are adjacent to each other. When the temple was destroyed by the Aurangzeb, the original Jyotirlinga was removed and hidden in a wellby a priest. The present temple was constructed by Rani Ahilaya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in 1776. In 1835, at the instance of the Sikh ruler of Lahore, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the temple Shikhara was gilded with gold leaf. Gold plating was done on its 15.5 meter high spire. One ton of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. Due to its Gold Shikhara this temple is also known as the Golden Temple. This temple was renovated by Maharani Khaneti, wife of Sudarshan Shah in 1857. Various great saints like the Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities have visited this Temple.

About The Temple

There is a well called Jnana Vapi i.e. wisdom well which is located to the north of the main temple. As one enters the temple from the southern side then on the left side there are three temples in a row one behind the other, Vishnu Temple, Virupakshi Gauri Temple and Avimukta Vinayaka Temple. A cluster of five lingas enclosed in a temple is called Nilakantheshvar temple. To the right just near the entrance is the temple enshrining a linga called Avimukteshvara. There is a controversy regarding the original Jyotirlinga at the place, which suggests that not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara is the original Jyotirlinga. Just above the Avimukteshvara Vinayaka are temples of Shanishchara and Virupaksha. Near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a well known as the Gyan Kapur Kuan (well of knowledge). The Vishwanatha temple consists of a mandapa and a sanctum. Inside the sanctum a linga is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. The Linga is of black stone. This Linga is about 60 cm. high and has 90 Cm. Circumference. Close to this shrine is a temple of Sanischar (Saturn) and the Annapurna Temple. During the Aaratis, Shiva is decorated with leaves shaded under huge cobra. It is the belief of the people of Banaras that Baba Vishwanath is responsible for the happiness and sadness of the lives of the people of Banaras.

New Vishwanath Temple

The New Vishwanath Temple is located in the campus of the Benaras Hindu University. As a replica of the original temple, this temple was built by the Birlas, the industrialist family. The temple is open to people of all religions and creeds.

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