Varanasi, revered and venerated as one of the most holy cities in the world is home to a large number of temples. In the heart of this cultural capital of the country stands the Vishwanath Temple in all its splendor and magnificence. It is frequented by religious minded Hindu devotees and is at the same time one of the major Tourist Attractions in Varanasi
History of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
It is said that the original Vishwanath Temple was located just opposite the road on which the present temple now stands. It was built more than 1000 years back. Unfortunately that temple was destroyed as a result of the invasions of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the year 1669. The present temple was built in 1778 by Maharani Ahalya Bai Holkar of Indore. Much later in the year 1839, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab donated 1000 kg of gold and that was used for gold plating the domes of the temple. It is for its golden spires that the temple is also referred to as the Golden Temple.
Description of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
The Vishwanath Temple, foremost of all the Holy Places in Varanasi is dedicated to Lord Shiva, also referred to by the name of Vishwanatha or Visheshwara (a term meaning ruler of the world) by his devotees. One of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva is enshrined in this temple. The linga is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference. It is housed in a silver altar.
Even though the linga is the presiding deity of this temple, there are several other smaller shrines within the precincts of the temple and some of the other Gods of the Hindu pantheon are worshipped in them. Mahakala, Vishnu, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri are some of the other deities from whom you can seek blessings here.
The Gyan Vapi Tank or the Wisdom Well of the temple is believed to be the spot where the Jyotirlinga was kept for protection against foreign invasion. A large number of devotees pour in from different parts of the country to offer their prayers to the Lord and seek his blessings. So strong is the faith and belief in him that many of our saints including Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati and Gurunanak are believed to have visited this temple in Uttar Pradesh. The Aarati is performed five times a day and makes for a very beautiful sight.
A mere glimpse of the jyotirlinga is believed to be a soul purifying experience, one is sure to feel spiritually elevated after getting the blessings of the Lord. There are several other jyotirlingas scattered in different parts of the country but when it comes to gaining benediction none comes close to the one at Varanasi or Kashi. He is considered to be a repository of spiritual strength and the merits of paying him a visit are beyond compare.