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Prateek Majumder
Jul 27, 20228 min read

Kashi Vishwanath Temple | Legends and History | When to Visit | FAQs

Famous Hindu temple for Lord Shiva is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is situated in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India's Vishwanath Gali. One of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples, the temple is located on the western bank of the sacred Ganges. The primary god is known by the names Shri Vishwanath and Vishweshwara, which literally translate to "Lord of the Universe" (IAST: Vishveshvara or Vishveshvur). Since Varanasi was once referred to as Kashi (which means "shining"), the temple is also known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Hindu scriptures regard the temple as being at the center of Shaiva worship. Many Muslim emperors had destroyed it before, most recently Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor, who built the Gyanvapi Mosque there. The Maratha ruler Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore erected the existing building on a nearby location around 1780.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple


The Uttar Pradesh government has been in charge of the temple's administration since 1983.

Legends:

Brahma, the Hindu God of creation, and Vishnu, the Hindu God of preservation, once quarreled about who was the God , consistent with the Shiva Purana.

Shiva, the Jyotirlinga, penetrated the three worlds as an enormous , never-ending pillar of sunshine to put them to the test. To check who was more powerful, Vishnu assumed the shape of a boar and went in search of the bottom of the pillar, while Brahma assumed the shape of a swan and ascended to the top. Out of conceit, Brahma claimed to have discovered the solution while bearing a katuki blossom as proof. Vishnu humbly acknowledged that he had not located the bottom. Then Shiva assumed the looks of the angry Bhairava, severed Brahma's lying fifth head, and cursed him in order that he would never be able to.Because of his honesty, Vishnu would always be revered alongside Shiva in his own temples. The jyotirlinga is an axis mundi sign that dates back thousands of years that represents the supremely formless (nirguna) truth at the center of creation, out of which Shiva's form (saguna) manifests.

kashi temple

Shiva therefore emerged within the jyotirlinga shrines as a blazing column of light. Shiva manifests in 64 different forms; these aren't the Jyotirlingas. The name of the ruling god, who is regarded to be a singular incarnation of Shiva, is employed for each of the twelve Jyotirlinga sites. the most picture at each of these locations is a lingam, which stands for the unending Stambha pillar and denotes Shiva's limitless nature. The twelve Jyotirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh , Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh , Trimbakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Deogarh in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

A sacred site of worship for the Shaktism sect, the Manikarnika Ghat on the banks of the Ganges next to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered a Shakti Pitha. The founding tale for Shakti Peethas is told within the Shaivite book Daksha Yaga, which is considered major literature.

According to legend, Lord Vishweshara rules over all other gods and humans in Banaras. This includes both those that live within the city limits and those who live within the 50-mile circumference of the Panchkoshi road, which is taken into account to be the city's sacred border.

History:

According to stories of the temple's history, it has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, according to historian Madhuri Desai. Visitors to the current Kashi Vishwanath Temple are informed of the lingam's eternal nature.

The prehistoric and classical eras:

The Kashi Khanda (part) of the Skanda Purana is one of the Puranas that mentions the temple.

Medieval times and devastation:

When Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam went to India and battled Jayachandra of Kannauj near Chandawar before razing the city of Kashi, the Ghurids destroyed the original Vishwanath temple, which was then known as the Adi Vishveshwara Temple.
In a short period of time, the Razia Mosque was built in its stead. During the time of Delhi's Sultan Iltutmish (1211-1266 CE), a Gujarati trader rebuilt the temple around 1230 next to the Avimukteshwara Temple, distant from the main site. During the reign of either Hussain Shah Sharqi (1447–1458) or Sikandar Lodi, it was destroyed once more (1489–1517).

The Mughal era:

The shrine was erected by Raja Man Singh under the administration of Akbar, a Mughal emperor. Because his daughter had married an Islamic monarch, Raja Todar Mal further rebuilt the temple in 1585, but traditional Brahmins decided to shun it. Jahangir's reign saw the completion or restoration of the older temple's building by Vir Singh Deo. Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor, demolished the temple and erected the Gyanvapi Mosque in its stead in 1669 CE. The mosque's foundation, columns, and back section all contain remnants of the former temple.

British and Maratha periods:

Malhar Rao Holkar, the Maratha king, devised a plan to level the mosque and build the Vishweshwar temple there in 1742. His scheme, however, was unsuccessful, in part due to the Nawab of Awadh's interference (who was given charge of the region). The Maharaja of Jaipur ordered a survey of the area around the temple around 1750 with the intention of buying property to build a new Kashi Vishwanath temple. His plans to reconstruct the temple, though, also fell through. Ahilyabai Holkar, the son-in-law of Malhar Rao, rebuilt the current temple next to the mosque in 1780.
In the Gyan Vapi precinct, Baiza Bai, the widow of Maratha king Daulat Rao Scindhia of Gwalior State, constructed a low-roofed colonnade with more than 40 pillars in 1828. The ghats, the Gyanvapi Well's perimeter, and other neighbouring temples were built between 1833 and 1840 CE. Numerous noble families from the Indian subcontinent's numerous ancestral kingdoms and their former institutions generously donate to the temple's operations.
On the request of his wife, Maharani Datar Kaur, the Sikh Empire's Maharaja Ranjit Singh contributed one tonne of gold for plating the temple's dome in 1835. Raghuji Bhonsle III of Nagpur gave the temple silver in 1841. To the east of the colonnade is a 7-foot-tall stone figure of Nandi that was a gift from the Rana of Nepal sometime in the 1860s.
An inherited group of pandits or mahants ran the temple. A disagreement developed between Mahant Devi Dutt's successors after his passing. His brother-in-law Pandit Visheshwar Dayal Tewari was recognised as the chief priest in 1900 as a consequence of a lawsuit he had filed.
In the past, Dalits and members of lower castes were prohibited from entering the shrine.Dalits were finally permitted to visit the shrine in 1957 after putting up a fierce fight against attempts to do so after Article 17 of the Indian Constitution abolished untouchability.

Post-Independence:

After the Babri Masjid was destroyed in December 1992, there were restrictions on the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple's puja because of the violent rioting that followed the mosque's destruction. The temple is located on the western side of the contentious Gyanvapi Mosque. 

After the Babri Masjid was destroyed in December 1992, there were restrictions on the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple's puja because of the violent rioting that followed the mosque's destruction. The temple is located on the western side of the contentious Gyanvapi Mosque. Five Hindu women filed a petition with a Varanasi court in August 2021 asking to be permitted to pray at the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple. Narendra Modi introduced the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Project in 2019 to facilitate travel between the temple and the Ganges River and to provide a broader area to reduce crowding. Modi opened the passageway on December 13, 2021, with a religious ceremony.

According to a government press release, about 1,400 people who lived or worked in the corridor's vicinity were relocated and given compensation. More than 40 ancient, derelict temples, including the Shri Kumbha Mahadev temple, the Gangeshwar Mahadev temple, the Manokameshwar Mahadev temple, and the Jauvinayak temple, were discovered and renovated, according to the report. Many temples, though, were moved from their original locations. As the four temples dedicated to Devi Bhog Annapurna, Sri Lakshmi Narayan, Sri Avimukteshwara Mahadeva, and Devi Parvati that surrounded the primary temple were destroyed during the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, the original Panchayatna form of the temple was altered.The temple's sanctum sanctorum was gold-plated in February 2022 as a result of a 60 kg donation of gold from South India made anonymously.

When to visit Kashi Vishwanath temple is best?

All year long, the temple will be at its most beautiful. A favourable climate during the winter (October to March) makes sightseeing simpler. 

Kashi Vishwanath Temple Timings: The ceremonies begin at three in the morning. By 11:15 am, the second ritual will begin. Rituals begin in the evening at seven, nine, and ten. By eleven o'clock at night, the temple closes.

Expense/Entry Fee:

The temple doesn't charge a fee to enter. You must purchase tickets if you intend to perform rituals in your own name. It is customary to purchase flowers for the deity from stores close to the temple. It's not required to purchase flowers. 

How to travel by flight to Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi:

The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Babatpur is the closest airport to the temple. The distance to the temple from there is about 25 kilometres, or less than an hour by car. Private and municipal buses and taxis are available to take you directly to the temple from the airport.

How to get by rail to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi:

The temple itself is close to several railway stations, and Varanasi city is well connected by rail. The distance between Varanasi City station and the temple is only 2 km and 6 km, respectively. Although Maduadih station is only 4 km away, Mughalsarai Junction station is 17 km away. The majority of these stations have good connections to the main metros in India.

How to travel by road to Kashi Vishwanath Temple Varanasi:

There are frequent private and public buses as well as various forms of road transportation from Varanasi to all of the major cities and towns in Uttar Pradesh. You can take an autorickshaw or a taxi to the temple via Vishwanath Gali, a street well-known in Varanasi for its stores selling delectable sweets, puja supplies, clothing, and fashionable jewelry.

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