Most popular Kasi Visvanath temple (Jyotirlinga), Varanasi

Viswanath temple, Varanasi, Uttar pradesh,the Ganges and the ghats Quora

Viswanath temple, varanasi.

Varanasi, also known as  Kashi is the most important place of pilgrimage for the Hindus living world over. Located in Uttarpradesh state, it used to be the place where  a tribe called Kasha was livinge on the banks of the  the river Ganges that geomorphologically  assumes the shape of a bow in the Gangetic plains.

Varanasi, one of the oldest cities in the world, is famous for Kashi Vishvanath Temple  dedicated to Lord Shiva  built on the western bank of the river. It is not only foremost among the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines but also the holiest place among holy places. This city that bestows Moksha on the devotees is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswaran. Panchakoshi city, was created by the aura and the mystic powers of Shiva. The city is supposed to remove every conceivable sin and is a vehicle of Moksha. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside  are the innate qualities of Rudra here, hence even the divines want to die here.

It is believed that it is the duty of every devout Hindu to make a pilgrimage to this city at least once in their life time. Many elderly people after completing their duties to their families come here for salvation, meaning, if they die here they will be free the cycle of rebirth. It is further believed that Lord Shiva himself recites the   Moksha (salvation) Mantra (salvation) into the devotees' ear. Till death, they will stay  in a mutt, where they may get free food or pay a nominal fee. Yet another tradition here is people visit  this place to conduct thithi -pithroo karya - paying obeisance to their forefathers - a way of remembering them and thanking them.    

Here the main  deity is Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara (Ruler of The Universe). There is no Hindu scripture that does not have a reference to this temple and this old city. This old temple, steeped in history, had been  been destroyed and re-constructed  several times during the Muslim rule in Delhi. Aurangzeb, the sixth tyrannical Mogul emperor, a Hindu bigot in 1669 CE demolished the temple and built  the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The Maratha ruler's daughter-in-law  Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780 rebuilt the present structure adjacent to  the mosque. In 1828, under the patronage of  Baij Bai, widow of the ruler of  of Gwalior built the roofed colonnade with 40  strong ornate pillars on the premises of  the Gnana vapi. It was between 1833 and 1840 several temples and ghats were built for the comforts of the visiting pilgrims. Many rulers and rich people made valuable contribution towards construction of many facilities and maintenance of the temple. The huge 7 foot tall  Nandi - bull found on the east of the pillared  mantap  made of hard rock is the contribution  from the maharajah of Nepal
The original holy well—Gyanvapi in between the temple and Gyanvapi Mosque.
Two domes of the temple are  gold plated (weighing roughly one ton). Thanks to the generosity of  the Sikh Maharajah Ranjit Singh and the third dome was covered with gold plate by the UP government under  the Ministry of Cultures & Religious affairs.

As for the temple complex, the main deity  in the Garbagraha - lord Shiva is in the form of linga,  measuring 30 cm tall and the 90 cm circumference  and is housed in a silver plated raised platform. The idol is made of black stone. Tha sabah or the congregation hall is  adjacent to the inner  sanctum.  There are a series  of small shrines in a row called Viswanatha  Galli  near the river. Kaala Bhairava, the guard of lord Shiva, has  a shrine dedicated to him. Also present there are  shrines dedicated to Kartikaya (Dhandapani), Vinayaka, Vishnu and other deities.

To the north of the temple is what is called Jana Vapi,  water well where the idol of lord Shiva was hidden until the threat of invasion by the Muslim ruler was over. Once, the temple  priest, in order to protect the Jyotirlinga (main idol)  of this temple during Muslim invasion, jumped into well along with the idol. The Vishveshvara  linga has religious and spiritual significance, hence thousands of people visit this holy place every day. On festival days, the crowd will be twice the normal size.

The visit to this temple by great saints and holy people like Sri Adi Sankaracharya of Kaladi, Tulasidas, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, et al will give  you some idea about the sanctity and  divinity of this place.

A note on eye-sores:

Frankly speaking, I am neither an atheist nor an agnostic as  far as religion is concerned. However, I would like to point out the following with a heavy heart, as it is concerned with a place of worship. The temple is well kept, but not the adjacent area near the river.

No doubt in the past several decades, because of the arrival of thousands of people to this city daily, the surroundings around the temple  and ghats along the Ganges have become  filthy. Numerous people coming here, have no civic sense at all. The city workers  do not keep both the ghats and the river water near the banks clean. Nor do they clear the heaps of  garbage  piling up  regularly. That the city corporation does not  employ enough people to take care of the areas around the temple, shows their lack of concern for cleanliness, water  pollution, sanitation, hygiene, etc.

Added to the maddening crowds and filthy surroundings  along the bathing ghats are the hobos in the name of Sanyasis - innumerable poorly clad holy men and barbarians called Aghoris. These pot-smoking fake Hindus  who haunt the burning ghats spoil the name of Hinduism that was revived by greet philosophers cum saints like Adi Sankara, Ramanuja, Madwacharya, Tulasi Das, et al centuries ago.

The UP government, I understand, is taking serious steps to clean the Ganges. As part of the clean-up operations, they should make it mandatory to cremate the dead bodies  in the Electric Crematorium. Allowing the dead bodies to be cremated near the river is against the norms of Hindu dharma and human decency. The dead need decent cremation, not the pathetic one  as one finds in the cremation ghats .

It is highly deplorable that what is happening in the  cremation ghat  and the loitering of  Aghoris  will negate the very purpose for which the devotees visit this place from far-off places.  

The very sight of ganja smoking Aghoris with vibuthi (ash) smeared all over their bodies near the cremation ghats, meddling with the half-burnt bodies smacks of decadence. It is just horrible. I wish the government could  do something about the unwanted elements around the temple. 


Nirvikar cahitanya and Sanatan Brahma have assumed the form of Saguna Vishwarupa from the initial Nirgun Roopa or form. The Shiva Shakti roopa became the Purusha (man) and Stree (the woman) again. Prakriti and Purusha (Nature and man) (Shiva-Shakti) were once ordained by Shiva to do tapas in the universe in order to create the best being. He specified the best place for this purpose. When a prayer was held, Nirgun Shiva, with His own powers and aura, created a wonderful city called Panchakoshi. Vishnu, who resided there, spent a lot of time praying to Shiva after which several watersprings originated there. Vishnu was amazed at this wonderous event, and even as he tilled his head, a gemstone fell from his ear. Because of this place, it was also called Manikarnika. The entire Panch Koshi area of Manikarnika waters were then gathered into the Trident by Shiva. Then from the navel of Vishnu was born a lotus flower with Brahma in it. Brahma was ordained by Shiva to create a world, at which Brahma created this wonderful world. It had fifty crore Yojanas of area and fourteen lokas. In order to save the lives of these who are bound by their own actions or karma. Shiva kept panchakoshi city away from the entire universe. In this city, Shiva Himself established the saviour Muktidayak JyotirLinga, which He can never leave. Shiva removed this very Kashi from His Trident and set it in this mortal world. It was not to be destroyed when Brahma’s day ends, but during Pralay i.e., final destruction of the world, Shiva saved it by keeping it safe in his trident. So the kashi is called avimukta kshetra. In Kashi, the Avimukteshwar Linga is there forever. Those who can never hope for salvation, attain Moksha here. Kasi Viswanathar - Varanasi

This holiest city of Panchakoshi, with its capacity to destroy every conceivable sin, is the vehicle of a special Moksha by the name “Samyugha”. That is the reason why this city which is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, is the place, where even divines want to die. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside, are the qualities of Rudra here. When prayed to, Vishwanatha Bahagavan Sri Shankar made this abode and resided there with Parvati.
Glory of Kashi

Kashi city is the place for Moksha and Ganga. Those who live here attain Mukti or Salvation, even without having to travel to any place of pilgrimage. Any one, be it a man, woman, young, old, Sahava, pure or impure, Prasuta, Aprasuta, Swadesh, Andaja, Udibhaja, of whatever caste, all attain Moksha. There is not an iota of doubt in this. Whatever a person may be doing, eat, sleep or anything else, if he departs from this world from Avimukteshwar, he definitely attains Moksha. Any small act of goodness or Punyakarya, takes away all the sins. Good as well as bad people are born on this earth. But by living in Kashi, both attain Moksha. Later, several people came forward to build this temple. A king by the name Banar developed this city of pilgrimage. About one and half thousand beautiful temples were built here. The tower of the Vishweshwara temple is a hundred feet high.

Kashi nagar is so great that even if the universe is to be destroyed in Pralaya, it would remain intact. Dandapani and Kalabhairav guard this city. They stay there forever. On the Ganga banks eighty four bathing ghats are located. There are also several teerthkundas. They have been there right from the times of Vedas.
History of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Varanasi, which was a pious place of pilgrimage for the hindus, soon became an eyesore and source of jealousy for the Muslims. From 1033 to 1669 AD Kashi came under several destructive attacks. Temples were demolished and Masjids built there instead. But due to the dedication of the Hindu devotees, the JyotirLinag pilgrimage place continued to develop. During the reign of the British and the Marathas, this place really developed well. Even the Jaina and Boudha monks helped to keep the place of the city intact.

The Kashi Vishweshwar temple as we see it now was built by Ahalya Devi Holkar in 1777 AD. In 1785 AD, the then King of Kashi, Mansaram and his son Belvant Singh built many more temples near Varanasi. In 1755 AD, the Avadh pantof pratinidhi (representative) got the old temple of Bindumadhava repaired and renovated it beautifully. The kalabhairava temple was built by Srimant Baji Rao Peshwa in 1852 AD.

King Ranjit Singh had the Kashi Vishwanath temple towers covered in gold. A huge bell hangs in the temple. It was donated by the King of Nepal. Surrounding Saranath, there are many Budhhist stupas, Viharas and Chaitra grihas. In 1931 AD the mahabodhi society had built a very beautiful Buddha temple in Saranath.

The Hindu devotees visit Kashi to make offering. Here they perform many rituals and consider themselves blessed. Along side, several foreign tourists visit this place regularly. Places worth seeing include Ghats, temples, tapobhoomi and the scenic beauty of the surroundings. Kashi Kshetra and Sri Vishweswara JyotirLinga are connected as the holiest shrines in the world. The Ganga water here is considered as the nectar of the earth. Dying in Kashi or performing the final rites is considered as the way to the Heavens. Kashi - Rameshwar(1) yatra is the prime pilgrimage for the Hindus.