Where the Varana and Asi rivers join the Ganges, a beautiful city was built there in the ancient times. It was named Varanasi. Varanasi, a prime place of pilgrimage, a tribe called kasha used to live. Therefore, Varanasi was also known as Kashi. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. Hence it acquired special importance. A king called Deivodas expanded this area.
Benares is also considered to be one of the Shakti Peethas of India. It is believed that the left hand of Sati fell at Varanasi, and that Annapurna or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here.
Apart from these temples, there are five other sacred spots in Benares. The Asi-Ganga sangamam, at Lolarka houses a temple to the Sun God. The rivers Ganga and Varana converge at a spot where there is a shrine to Kesava. The Panchaganga Ghat houses a temple to Bindu-Madhava. It is believed that five rivers Kirana, Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati and Dhuta-papa converge here. The Dasaswamedha Ghat where it is believed that the ancient kings performed the aswamedha sacrifice ten times and took a dip in the Ganga.
The last of the sacred spots is the Manikarnika Ghat. Legend has it that Vishnu dug a pit with his chakra, and the sweat created during his meditation filled the pit. Shiva shook his head and his jeweled earring fell into the pit, hence the name Manikarnika. Tradition has it that those that die at Benares and get cremated at the Manikarnika ghat, get liberated from the cycle of life and death.
Varanasi is located in Uttarpradesh, in the Gangetic plains. Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is situated in Kashi and famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi this holy place is very dear to Lord Shankar. It is said in the scriptures than this place was forever destroyed when the earth was submerged under water (Pralaya). It is so because Lord Shiva holds this place by his Trishul. Those who come and die here attain liberation. It is said that Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the one’s who is going to die, here. He resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated .
In Kashi, in the north, the Durkarkhand with south, Kedar Khand, in the middle, Vishweshwar Khand are situated. In this Vishwanath is situated. The original Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath is a not available. The old temple was destroyed as a result of the mughal invasion and Aurangazeb built a mosque in place of it. The ancient idol of Vishweshwar is situated in Jnana-Vapi.
The new temple was built at a distance from the original one by the Queen of Indore Queen Ahilyabai. Other than this Shri Karpati constructed a new temple near the Ganges. One can stand a bit far from the place and worship Lord Vishweshwar.
Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the highly revered shrines of Lord Shiva. Located in the holy city of Varanasi, Vishwanath Temple rests on the western banks of Ganges. Varanasi is a small city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in India. With 3500 years of documented history, this holy city is acclaimed to be the oldest living city in the world. Earlier, Varanasi used to be known as Kashi, perhaps this is the reason the shrine is popular as Kashi Vishwanath.
Vishwanath Mandir is known for comprising one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (Linga of light) of Lord Shiva. The presiding deity is known as Vishwanath or Vishweshwara, suggesting the "ruler of the world". In the sanctum sanctorum, the holy 'jyotirlingam' is placed in a silver alter. This sacred 'Lingam' of Lord Shiva captures the main devotional focus of Varanasi. Thousands of devotees and pilgrims come of offer their obeisance to Lord Shiva. Vishwanath Temple has been mentioned in the holy scriptures for numerous times. In the Hindu religion, the temple is regarded as one of the most important places of worship. As per the Hindu folklore, the temple must be visited once in the entire lifetime. A holy dip in Ganga River along with the 'darshan' of Lord Vishwanath is regarded as the leading way to 'Moksha' (salvation). Due to the reason, people seek to visit the place at least once in their life span.
In the complex, there are several shrines dedicated to Mahakala, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri. Hindu mythology states Vishwanath Mandir since the earliest times. In the Shaiva philosophy, the temple had been a central part of worship. Kashi Vishwanath Mandir has received many eminent Hindu saints like Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Gurunanak.
A Belief regarding Kashi Vishwanath
Kashi (Varanasi) is said to be the city created by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. As per the mythological legends, Varanasi is the spot, from where the first 'Jyotirlinga' emerged from the earth's crust and flashed towards the heaven. The act was done to announce the final call of supremacy amongst the Hindu Gods by Lord Shiva. In the temple complex, there is a well by the name of Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well), where it is regarded that the original lingam lies hidden.
Due to long interrupted history of invasions, the original temple has not yet been traceable. Possibly, the temple has got damaged during various invasions. In 1780, the present structure of the temple is said to have been constructed by Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore. In 1835, the temple spire and dome were covered with 1000 kgs of gold that was donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. From the year 1983, Vishwanath temple is under the management of Uttar Pradesh Government. The Shiva temple has been mentioned in Puranas including Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana. In 11th century A.D., Hari Chandra reconstructed the temple. Muhammad Ghori destroyed it along with other temples of Varanasi during his raid in 1194. Reconstruction of the temple started soon after. This was demolished by Qutb-ud-din Aybak. After Aybak's death the temple was again rebuilt. In 1351 it was destroyed again by Firuz Shah Tughlaq, who also had Hindu holy works translated in Persian.The temple was rebuilt in 1585 by Todar Mal, the Revenue Minister of Akbar's Court.Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed Gyanvapi Mosque, which still exists alongside the temple. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. The current temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.The temple spire and the dome are plated with 1000 kg of gold donated by the mighty Jatt Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, in 1835.
As Puran says Kashi Vishwanath Baba is divided in to 3 parts of Trishul Kedareshwar Vishweshwar MahaMritunjay.According to puran the person who stays at the end of his life time gets moksha. Kashi Vishwanath gives tarak mantra to get moksha. People who live in kashi get Aarth, Dharma, Karma, Moksha. The Temple is also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city.This is the holiest spot in the city.
More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens.
The original temple was destroyed by aurangzeb who built a mosque in its place, but the traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque.The present temple was built by Maharani Ahilya Bai of Indore in the year 1776 and the gold plating on the towers of the temple was provided by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Indore.
To the side of the temple is Gyan-Kupor('The well of Knowledge'). It is believed that the Shiva Lingam removed from the original temple was hidden in this well to protect it from Aurangazeb and it still lies there. Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple.
The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well) and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple had jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the (Jyoti-r)Ling from the invaders..
The Varanasi city is addressed with vivid names such as ancient city of ghats, cultural capital and so on. Varanasi becomes immensely sacred due to the existence of Mahadev (Lord Shiva). The never ending joyous spirit of the city is in close proximity with the essence of Kashi Vishwanath.
Displaying a gesture of impeccable harmony, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and a Mosque in Varanasi co-exists in the same premises. The tough security protocols at the temple entrance have not been even close to affect the spirit of devotees to visit their Lord.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple registers a stunning visit record that tolls to around 3000 visitors every day. At certain occasions, the numbers reach lakhs. The temple entrance is through a narrow street surrounded by unique, souvenir shops and guards.
Importance of the temple
The temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places of worship in Hindu religion and most of the leading Hindu saints, including Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Gurunanak have visited this site. A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (liberation). Thus, people from all over the nation, try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage the temple, and the pilgrimage would also include a visit to the temple at Rameswaram in South India, where people take the water samples of the Ganges to perform prayer at the temple and bring back the sand from near that temple. Due to the immense popularity and holiness of this temple, hundreds of temples across the nation have been built with the same style and architecture.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Architecture
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple Banaras consists of a mandapa and a sanctum, besides many subsidiary shrines. The sanctum has a linga made of black stone and is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. On the southern entrance of the temple, there are three temples in a row one behind the other, dedicated to Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri and Avimukta Vinayaka. There are a group of five lingas enclosed in the temple called Nilakantheshvar temple. Shanishchara and Virupaksha temples are seen just above the Avimuka Vinayaka temple. There is another linga called Avimukteshvara which is seen on the right, near the entrance. Some people suggest that original Jyotirlinga at the place is not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara Jyotirlinga.
There is a well called Gyan-Kupor (the well of Knowledge), located beside the temple. Legend has it that when the Shiva Lingam was removed from the original temple, it was hidden in this well to protect it from Aurangazeb.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Daily Schedules and Timings
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi opens daily at 2:30 am. Aarati is performed five times, daily. Mangala Aarti is from 3 am to 4 am. Then it is opened for devotees from 4 am to 11 am. From 11.30 am to 12 noon, mid-day Bhog Aarti is done. Again from 12 noon to 7 pm, devotees can worship.
From 7 pm to 8.30 pm, evening Sapta Rishi Aarti is done. After that devotees can visit till 9.00 pm, when Sringar/Bhog Aarti starts. After 9.00 pm, devotees can worship from outside only. Shayan Aarti starts at 10.30 PM and the Kashivishwanath Temple closes at 11 pm.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Festivals
Mahashivratri is celebrated in a grand manner at Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (February or March) every year.
Places of Interest near by
Varanasi Ghats - Devotees take a ritual bath in the ghats and perform puja to the rising sun. Notable among them are Varanasi Ganga Ghat, Kedar Ghat, Tulsi Ghat, Mansarovar Ghat, Dasaswamedh Ghat, Panchaganga Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Manmandir Ghat, Dandi Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat.
Famous temples - Annapurna Bhavani Temple (Goddess Annapurna Temple), Tulsi Manas Temple, Goddess Durga Temple Varanasi, the ancient Kal Bhairava Temple Varanasi, Bharat Mata Temple, Dhundhiraj Ganesh Temple (one of the oldest temples in Varanasi), Chausatthi Devi Temple, Dharmesha Temple on Mira Ghat, Kedareshvara Temple, Mahamrityunjaya Temple (Maha Mrityunjaya Temple), Nepali Temple (Kathwala Temple), New Vishvanatha Temple, Sankat Mochan Mandir, Goddess Shitala Temple, Vakratunda Vinayaka Temple near Rana Mahala Ghat, and Vishalakshi Mandir (one of the holy Shakti Peethas).
Getting there and Around
By Air - Babatpur Airport, also known as Varanasi Airport or Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport (IATA - VNS, ICAO - VIBN), is the nearest airport situated just 18 km north-west of Varanasi city. Varanasi lies on the daily air tourist shuttle route linking other major tourist places in India such as Khajuraho, Agra and Delhi.
By Rail - The city is linked by trains with all metros and major cities across the country - New Delhi (760 Kms.), Bombay (1509 Kms.), Calcutta (735 Kms.), Madras (1970 Kms.) , Lucknow (286 Kms) . There are three railway station - Kashi, City and Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment), which is the main station and has computerised booking. There are not many trains running directly between here and Delhi or Calcutta but most Delhi to Calcutta trains do pass through Mughal Sarai, 18 km south of Varanasi. This is about 45 minutes by bus or shared autorickshaw. From Varanasi Junction, expresses take 13 to 16 hrs. to Delhi and 13 hours to Calcutta. Other expresses take 28 hrs. to Bombay, 39 hrs. to Madras, 3 hrs. to Allahabad, 41/2 hrs. to Patna, 5 hrs. to Lucknow.
By Road - Varanasi is connected with Calcutta (677 Kms.), Delhi (765 Kms.), Madras (1901 Kms.), Bangalore (1763 Kms.) and to the rest of the country by good motorable, all-weather roads.
Varanasi being an important tourist destination for both pilgrims as well as other tourists features numerous economic hotels as well as luxury hotels and guest houses. Hotel such as Taj Ganges, Hotel Surabhi International, Hotel Varanasi Ashok, Hotel De Paris, and Hotel M M Continental are all situated within a short distance from Kashi Vishwanath Temple.