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Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Location:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located along the bank of Holi River Ganga at Chowk, Varanasi. The narrow lane or Gali approaching the temple is known as Vishwanath Gali.

How to Reach:

There are three approach lanes, 1st via Dashashwamedh Road, 2nd via Bansphatak and 3rd via Gyanvapi. It is difficult to advise the convenient entry point because due to heavy police patrolling, entry points keep changing. During peak rush days like Mondays and other important festivals, the police may regulate the pilgrims through Gyanvapi and the exit point may be through Bansphatak etc. Since the temple is located in deep inside the Gali, it is advisable to take help from local shopkeepers, police or reliable Guide. Be careful against fake guides.

Pooja Timing:

Numerous rituals, prayers and Aartis are held throughout the day, starting from 2:30 am till 11:00 pm. Vishwanath Temple opens daily at 2.30 am for Mangala Aarti from2.30 am to 4.00 am. Between 3 am to 4 am ticket holders are permitted to join Mangala Aarti. Bhog Aarti is performed from 11.30 to 12.30 noon. Sapta Rishi Aarti is carried from 7 pm to 8.30 p.m. daily followed by Shringar Aarti at 9 pm and Shayana Aarti at 10.30 pm. After 9 pm, Darshan is possible only from outside. Temple closes at 11 pm. The timings may vary slightly depending on the seasons i.e. summer or winter. The details of the temple and various poojas being performed are also available on the temple web site www.shrikashivishwanath.org.

Highlights:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple also known as the Golden Temple is the most important Temple in Varanasi. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located along the bank of Holi River Ganga in the heart of the this cultural capital of India and dedicated to Varanasi's presiding deity Lord Shiva (Vishwanath – "Lord of the world") having a 'lingam', the phallic icon of Shiva, that goes back to the time of the epics.. It is an important Hindu Temple and one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva Temples in India. It is believed that a single view of Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is considered to merit more than that of other Jyotirlingas as a simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is believed to be a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and devotion. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the center of faith for millions of Hindus. Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanath, is treasured in Kashi Vishwanath Temple, considered as one of the holiest Temples of India. Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living picture of the timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values attracting Hindu devotees and other visitors not only from India but also the world over. Lord Vishwanath is considered the supreme repository of the spiritual truth and strengthens the bonds of universal brotherhood. Skanda Purana by Kasikanda mentions this Temple as Shiva's abode. Most of the offerings at the Kashi Vishwanath Temple are given to poor and needy people.

History:

Kashi Vishwanath Temple has withstood the onslaught of various invasions by Muslim rulers. The Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The well of wisdom or 'Gyan Vapi' which is nearby is believed to have been built by Lord Shiva himself to cool the 'Linga' of Vishwanath with water. Gyan Vapi Mosque adjacent to the Temple, is the original site of the Temple. Existing Temple, also known as Golden Temple was built in 1780 by Late Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore. In the year 1785, a Naubatkhana was built up in front of the Temple at the instance of Governor General, Warren Hastings. The two pinnacles of Temple are covered by gold, donated in 1839 by Ranjit Singh, ruler of Punjab, since then it is also known as the Golden Temple. About 800 kg of gold has been used for gold plating on the towers. On 28 January 1983, Temple was taken over by the government of Uttar Pradesh and its management was transferred to a trust with then Kashi Naresh, Vibhuti Narayan Singh, as president and an executive committee with a Divisional Commissioner as Chairman. Security is tight making entrance difficult and sometimes completely off limits to foreigners. No bags, cellphones or pens are allowed, they can be deposited in the shops by the Temple entrance.

Vishwanath temple finds mention in various religious texts like Kashi Khand, Shiv Puran etc. According to Kashi Khand, the name of this temple was Moksh Lakshmi Vilas temple which contained five mandaps of which the main mandap was Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) where the Vishweshwar Ling was worshipped. Vishweshwar Ling is Swayambhu Ling. According to Kashi Khand Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati visited the Mukti Mandap alongwith Devas wherefrom they went and sat in Shringar Mandap, facing east. Here, Lord Shiva described the greatness of Vishweshwar Ling as, “By touching the Vishweshwar Ling and praying, the devotee is free from all sins accumulated over past two generations. A devotee who, with pure devotion, pours holy water on the Linga and offers just one flower to Lord Vishweshwar, gets the blessings equivalent to performing a pooja with hundreds of Golden Flowers.”

When Lord Shiva was narrating the greatness, he was accompanied by Lord Indra on one side and seven great saints were surrounding him. Even today, seven priests (believed to be the descendants of the great seven saints) perform a daily pooja at Vishwanatha Temple at around 7.00-7.30 p.m., known as Sapta Rishi Pooja/Aarti. However, devotees who visit Kashi must make it a point to participate in this Holy ritual and it is certain that they will like the Aarti. There are various types of Poojas and rituals mentioned in ancient books like Kashi Khand, Padma Puran, Linga Puran etc. but considering the present life style it may not be possible for any person to follow the steps mentioned in the above books. It is believed that taking a dip in the Holy Ganges followed by darshan at Vishwanath Temple will cleanse all the sins of a person. The greatness of Vishwanath has been described amply in Kashi Khand in several chapters.