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Kashi Vishwanath Temple | History, Architecture & facts of Kashi Vishwanath

Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a famous and holiest of the 12 Jyotirlinga temple, located on the banks of the River Ganga and the presiding deity here is Lord Vishweshwara, a name that means Lord of the Universe. In this place, Lord Shiva is present in the form of a Jyotirlinga, pillar of light, giving utmost solace to devotees. A place of supreme divinity, this temple is much revered by Shavites and ardent pilgrims who arrive here form all corners of the country and the globe. During Mahashivratri, this place comes alive with devotees who throng here with flowers, coconut and other religious offerings.

It is a place that is visited by pilgrims and also saints due to its huge spiritual power and the importance with which it has been praised and mentioned in the Purana. Such is the power of this place and the temple that when the word Kashi is said, vibrations are felt throughout the body. Such is the importance of Kashi that when mother earth was created the light first fell on Kashi.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishwanath Temple | Image Resource : upload.wikimedia.org

Enjoy the majestic beauty of Varanasi when making a trip to the Kashi Vishwanathan temple. It is a lovely place, filled with greenery and infused with the old style of living. A very spiritual place, it is filled with aractises, each of which reflect ancient Indian rituals and traditions. The food here is fabulous with traditional roti with a side dish being served. As you explore each of the temples here, you will find the entire place to be one that is mesmerizing, drenched in spirituality, beckoning devotees from all over.

Varanasi is known for its lovely temples and is revered in the Upadnishads, Brahamanas and Puranas but the kashi Vishwanath temple is the shining star among all owing to the fact that Lord Shiva resides here in the form of a Jyotirlinga. It is said that those who come to this particular Jyotirlinga temple and pray with utmost devotion attain salvation and liberation from cycle of life and death.

When you enter the temple, you will be stunned with its marvelous architecture. It is indeed a stunning sight to see such a huge space of filled with utmost fabulous carvings, imagery and sculptures. Such is the sight of ancient architecture that you will be left wondering and how skillful the artisans and craftsman of yesteryears were in bringing about a fabulous look to their temple structure.

One of the most interesting traditions followed here is that of the celebration of Rangabhari Ekadashi. Here Lord Shiva in the form of Vishwanathan, come to Kashi and with him is a cow who is none other than Mother Bhagwati. During the celebration of this festival, dozens of damroos vibrate and their sound echoes throughout the place. This tradition has been followed for the past 200 years. Similarly on Basant Panchami, the Tilak ceremony is carried out, while on, Shivaratri, marriage ceremony is conducted between Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati and on Rangbhari Ekadashi day, Goddess Parvati leaves with Lord Shiva. Each of the traditions are religiously carried out fastidiously and have been done so for the past centuries.

The marriage ritual is carried out in a grand way with the Pradhan Archak Pandit Shashibhushan Tripathi and seven archaks under him performing it according to Vedic rituals. It is indeed a fabulous sight to view and such is the intricacy of the ritual that you will love experiencing it from the beginning to the end.

History of Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirling

There is an interesting history behind this city, which is that Lord Shiva’s mother-in-law felt that her son-in-law needed a proper home for settling down. Lord shiva entrusted the task of finding this to Nikumbja in Kashi. Once settled Goddess Parvati was so happy that she offered food to everyone and that is why she is called Annapoorni. At this point even Lord Shiva gets food from here, disguised as a beggar.

An ancient Indian legend has it, on the day of creation of Mother Earth the first light ray was shown to Kashi. There are also other legends which state that Lord Shiva actually stayed in the city in the form of “Lord Kalabhairava” as the guardian of the city. It is also a place that has one of the 52Shaktipeeshams, wherein Sati’s left arm fell here.

An interesting story about Kashi is that it is not actually on Mother Earth but actually floats on it. It is said that the city rests on the trident of Lord Shiva, with Vishweshwara temple in the middle, Aumkareshwara Temple in the North and Kedareshwara temple in the South. It is also said that the city is guarded by eight Kaal Bhairavs. The temples for these Gods are situated in the eight cardinal directions and they protect the divinity of the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Architecture of Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The original structure dates back to the 11th century, but it was destroyed by Qutb-al-din Aibak in 1194 CE. However, a Gujarati merchant rebuilt it during Delhi's Sultan Iltutmish (1211–1266 CE) reign. However it once again faced demolishment by Hussain Shah Sharqi and then further by Sikandar Lodh between the 14th and 15th centuries. However Raja Man Singh and Raja Todar Mal rebuilt it during the time of Akbar.

However this structure too faced destruction under Aurengzeb’s rule in 1669. He built the the Gyanvapi Mosque here in the place of the structure. The current structure was built by Ahilyabai Holkar in 1780 just adjacent to the well. It was in 1828 that Baiza Bai, built a low-roofed colonnade which included some 40 pillars in the Gyan Vapi area. The next structural development occurred between 1833 and 1840 when the boundary of the well, ghats and temples was set in place. Inside you can see the statue of the nandi bull given by the Raja of Nepal. Various noble families contributed in different ways to the temple’s structure with Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire contributing one tonne of gold plating to the dome.

Most unusual aspect of the temple is its three domes, each of which are covered in gold plate, thus rendering it a majestic and unusual look, one that is indeed breathtaking, lovely and enchanting. The temple’s current structure is a little distance from its original site and it was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar. The gold plating seen on the dome was contruibuted by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh of Punjab.

The main shrine as a beautiful Shiva Linga which is fabulously decorated and such is its beauty that it beckons you right away. Along with it are many smaller shrine, each of which are located in the Vishwanath galli, such as those of Lord Vishnu, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Kaalbhairav, Vinayaka, Sanishwara.

As with other temples, this temple has a congregation hall or Sabha Griha which leads to the Garbha Griha or sanctum Sanctorium. What is most stunning about the Jyotirlinga is that it is shining in dark brown color and placed on a silver platform. The gold spire that stands on top of the dome has a flag and trident.

The majestic beauty of the Kashi Vishwanath is unparalleled as it has seen structural contributions from many people. As you walk inside, you can enjoy both the simplicity and antiquity of the place. Beautiful as it is, this temple is a very sacred place, one that engulfs you in its spirituality as much as it does with its majestic sculptures and various shrines. Come here to enjoy any of the many celebratory events that are conducted every year. Lovely and divine are the best ways to describe the impressive beauty of this landmark Shiva temple, which beckons people in thousands every day,.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple Facts

  • There is a well, known as the ‘Well of Wisdom’ and it is located between the temple and the adjacent mosque.

  • It was in this well that the idol of Lord Shiva was place when devotees came to know that Aurangzeb was going to destroy the temple.

  • Daily about 3000 devotees enter the temple but on special days, where poojas are carried out, the number rises to about 10000

  • Most spectacular is the evening aarti which is really beautiful and a wonderful sight for the ardent devotee

  • Close to the temple is the weavers village where the famous benaras sarees are woven

  • Important places closeby that are a must to visit include the Dhamek Stupa, Dashashwamedh Ghat, 1750’s Ramnagar Fort and Sarnath Museum

How to Reach Kashi Vishwanath

Air – Reach the Varanasi airport by flight and then take a cab or bus to reach the temple

Rail – Reach the varanasi main railways station, else any of the stations at Chaukhandi, Shiupur Kashi, Jalalganj, Manduadih, Varanasi Junction and reach the temple via bus or cab

Road – Varanasi is well connected by a network of road to various key cities close by. Take nay such buses to reach Varanasi and then arrive at the temple via local bus or taxi.

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