INTRODUCTIONOne of the most well-known Hindu temples devoted to Lord Shiva is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple located in the Vishwanath Gali, Lahori Tola, Varanasi City. The temple is devoted to Lord Shiva as one of the 12 Holy Jyotirlingas is here. On the western bank of the holy river Ganga, the temple can be found. The tower of the temple has a gold plating of 800 kg gold, giving it a unique touch, and thus comes the name ‘Golden Temple.’
HISTORY & SIGNIFICANCEFor a long time, the temple has been mentioned in Hindu texts as a fundamental element of Shiva philosophy & devotion. The Puranas, notably the Kashi Khanda (portion) of Skanda Purana, makes the first mention of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Interestingly, this temple has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times throughout history. In the year 1194, when Qutb-ud-din Aibak’s forces conquered the King of Kannauj, the temple was demolished for the first time. During the reign of Delhi’s Iltutmish, the temple was reconstructed, only to be demolished again during the reign of Sikander Lodhi. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh restored the temple. Emperor Aurangzeb demolished the temple in 1669 CE and replaced it with the Gyanvapi Mosque. It was finally reconstructed in 1780 by Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore, the Maratha monarch, like the Golden Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple has two gold-plated domes provided by Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Punjab Kesari, and silver-plated domes donated by the Bhosales of Nagpur. The temple has been handled by Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Singh and afterward by the Kashi Naresh since 28th January 1983, when it became the property of the Uttar Pradesh government. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of Varanasi’s most respected temples, holds immense religious significance in Hinduism. A visit to the temple followed by a bath in the holy Ganges is widely thought to be the ultimate method to achieve liberation or ‘Moksha,’ and as a result, it is thronged by worshippers throughout the year. Another legend is that Lord Shiva himself whispers salvation chants into the ears of those who pass away naturally at the Vishwanath Temple. Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Vivekanand, Adi Shankaracharya, Guru Nanak Dev, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, and Ramakrishna Paramhansa are among some of the famous Hindu saints who have visited this pious shrine.
ARCHITECTURAL DETAILSThe Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a group of lesser shrines in the city of Kashi. The temple complex is made up of a collection of smaller shrines that are placed along the river in a little alley known as the Vishwanath Gali. The main temple iple’s main Shivalinga is made of black stone and stands 60 cm tall with a circumference of 90 cm. It is placed on a silver altar. Gyaan Vapi, a holy well, is also located here, and it is thought to be the location where the Shivalinga was hidden to protect it from foreign invaders. The temple’s structure is divided into three sections. The first is a spire on Lord Vishwanath’s temple, the second is a gold dome, and the third is a gold spire atop which is adorned with a flag and a trident. s built in the shape of a square, surrounded by shrines dedicated to several gods like; Dhandapani, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Avimukteshwara, Kaalbhairav, Sanishwara, and Virupaksh Gauri. They are all worshipped in these temples. The temple’s main Shivalinga is made of black stone and stands 60 cm tall with a circumference of 90 cm. It is placed on a silver altar. Gyaan Vapi, a holy well, is also located here, and it is thought to be the location where the Shivalinga was hidden to protect it from foreign invaders. The temple’s structure is divided into three sections. The first is a spire on Lord Vishwanath’s temple, the second is a gold dome, and the third is a gold spire atop which is adorned with a flag and a trident.
HOW TO REACH?The Varanasi railway station is located about 5 kilometers distant from the temple. If you’re traveling from anywhere in the city, a cab or an auto-rickshaw is the best way to get to your destination. The main temple is located deep inside the Vishwanath Gali, which is not motor accessible, hence one needs to walk upto the temple threshold.
VISHWANATH GALITo get to the temple, one needs to go through the Kashi Vishwanath Gali, which is known for its stores offering pooja goods and sweets. In the street, there is also a popular ladies’ area that sells a variety of things like Banarasi sarees, dresses, religious articles, and jewelry. Bangles, Kurtis, wooden toys, brass products, statues, religious books, deity posters, accessories, dress materials, sweets, eatables, and even music CDs are among the other items for sale. Snacks are also sold at a few roadside shops for those sudden hunger cravings. Devotees can go here for some reasonably priced shopping after their darshan of Lord Shiva. There’s no entry fee for the temple and the timings for the Pooja at Kashi Vishwanath Temple are as follows;
3:00 A.M. TO 4:00 A.M. – Mangala Aarti (Morning)
11:15 A.M. TO 12:20 A.M. – Bhoga Aarti (Day)
7:00 P.M. TO 8:15 P.M. – Sandhya Aarti (Evening)
9:00 P.M. TO 10:15 P.M. – Shringara Aarti (Night)
10:30 P.M. TO 11:00 P.M. – Shayana Aarti (Night)