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The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Vishwanath Gali of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in India. 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 (IAST: Vishveshvara or Vishveshvur) literally meaning Lord of the Universe. Varanasi was called Kashi (“shining”) in ancient times, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The temple is considered a central part of worship in the Shaiva culture by Hindu scriptures. It had been demolished by many Muslim rulers many times, most recently by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. 1 The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha ruler, Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in the year 1780.
As per the Shiva Purana, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of Preservation) had an argument about who was supreme. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. To determine who was mightier Vishnu took the form of a boar and sought out the bottom while Brahma took the form of a swan to fly to the pillar’s top. Brahma out of arrogance lied that he had found out the end, offering a katuki flower as witness. Vishnu modestly confessed to being unable to find the bottom. Shiva then took the form of the wrathful Bhairava, cut off Brahma’s lying fifth head, and cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped. Vishnu for his honesty would be worshiped as equal to Shiva with his own temples for all eternity. The jyotirlinga is an ancient axis mundi symbol representing the supreme formless (nirguna) reality at the core of creation, out of which the form (saguna) of Shiva appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.
The temple complex 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 centimetres (24 in) tall and 90 centimetres (35 in) in circumference housed in a silver altar. 33 The main temple is quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods. There are small temples for Kala Bhairava, Kartikeya, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Ganesha, Shani, Shiva and Parvati in the complex.
Located on the banks of the holy Ganges, Varanasi is regarded among the holiest of the Hindu cities. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places of worship in the Hindu religion. Inside the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishveshvara or Vishvanath. The Vishveshvara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India.
Phalgun Shukla Ekadashi is celebrated as Rangabhari Ekadashi, that is, colors. According to tradition, before Holi, Baba Vishwanath comes back to Kashi after having a cow in the form of mother Bhagwati. The temple complex is echoed by the echo of dozens of Damroos. This tradition has been performed for over 200 years. On Basant Panchami Baba’s Tilak is performed, Shivaratri marriage and Rangbhari Ekadashi marks parvati leaving with shiva. These traditions are carried out by the erstwhile Mahant family of the temple for over a century.