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Uttar Pradesh Temples >> Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The oldest living city in the world, Varanasi is the ultimate destination of all Hindu pilgrims searching for moksha from the cycle of birth and re-birth. The word 'Kashi' originated from the word 'Kas' which means to shine. Kashi is mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures - the Brahmanas, Upanishads and the Puranas. It is the oldest center of learning and the University here is still widely respected for its Sanskrit, Philosophy, and Arts faculties. Hyuen Tsang, the Chinese traveler visited Varanasi in the 7th century.

Stepped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the 'original ground' created by Lord Shiva and Parvati. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple was destroyed in the various invasions and was rebuilt in 1776 by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims flock to Varanasi to offer homage and wash away their sins.

Vishweshwara jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodiment of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. The Temple has been visited by all great saints- Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities.

History
The Shiva temple is believed to have been there in the site for thousands of years, as mentioned in old scriptures. The Mughal emperor Akbar allowed the temple to be constructed[4] but his grandson, the harsh Islamic ruler Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed Gaynvapi Mosque, which still exists alongside the temple [5]. This mosque has minarets towering 71 metres above the Ganges River and the traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. The temple spire and the dome are plated with 1000 kg of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab, in 1835[6].


The temple structure

The well in the templeThe 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 [2]. There are small temples for Mahakala, 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.


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 vitied this site [5]. According to Hindu mythology, a visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganga is 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 Ganga 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.