The holy city of Varanasi located at the banks of river Ganges, is a highly popular and pious place for the Hindu Community. Considered spiritual in the Hindu mythology, pilgrimage to Kashi or Varanasi is highly submissive for the devotees. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the most revered shrines in India which attracts a lot of humble devotees yearly. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva Temples. The main deity is known by the names Shri Vishwanath and Vishweshwara literally meaning Lord of the Universe.
The temple is spread over a vast area which consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga of the main deity at the shrine is 60 centimeters (24 in) tall and 90 centimeters (35 in) in circumference housed in a silver altar. The main temple is quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods.
As per the Shiva Purana, once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu had an argument about who was supreme. To test them, Lord Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the Jyotirlinga to determine who was mightier and asked both Lords to find the end of the pillar. Lord Vishnu took the form of Varaha and sought out the bottom while Lord Brahma took the form of a swan to fly to the pillar’s top. Lord Brahma, out of arrogance, lied that he had found out the end, offering a katuki flower as witness. Lord Vishnu modestly confessed that he was unable to find the bottom. Lord Shiva then took the form of the wrathful Bhairava, chopped off Lord Brahma’s lying fifth head, and cursed Lord Brahma that he would not be worshipped. Lord Vishnu for his honesty would be worshiped at par with Lord Shiva for all eternity.
History of Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been destroyed and rebuilt time and again by different rulers. The original Vishwanath temple was destroyed by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak when he defeated Raja of Kannauj. The temple was rebuilt, then destroyed and rebuilt; this process continued for several centuries.
Mughals plundered the temple time and again. Though the Mughal Emperor Akbar gave permission to build the original temple, his great-grandson Aurangazeb later destroyed the temple and built a mosque there. The present temple was built by the great Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar, the Queen of Indore.
List of some fascinating facts about Kashi Vishwanath Temple which are lesser known.
Kashi was originally derived from the sanskrit word ‘Kas’ which means ‘to sparkle’. With numerous attacks and plunders over the centuries, the city’s resilience is much appreciable!
- One of the 12 Jyotirlingas
Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is believed that the faithful ones attain salvation if they see the Shiva Linga! Thus , this architectural marvel is frequented by a lot of devotees from far and wide.
- The Wish Fulfilling Chhatri
The temple is adorned with a unique “Chhatri” which is made up of pure gold. It is often believed that those who see this golden chhatri, and ask for a wish, their wishes get fulfilled.
- The Strange Well
There is a ‘Well of Wisdom’ in the temple where Lord Shiva’s idol was hidden when Aurangzeb was planning to destroy the temple soon.
- First ray of light
It is believed that when the earth was created the first ray of light fell on Kashi. There are legends that believe that Shiva had actually stayed here for some time. Shiva was supposed to be the guardian of the city and its people.