The Vishalakshi Maa (meaning wide-eyed Devi) or Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva’s spouse, is honored in the Vishalakshi Temple. Vishalakshi Gauri Temple is another name for Vishalakshi Temple. It is a well-known Hindu temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, located near the Meer Ghat on the banks of the holy River Gange. The Vishalakshi Temple is a Shakti Pitha, one of the holiest temples dedicated to Adi Shakti, the Hindu Divine Mother.
HISTORY & SIGNIFICANCE
The Mata Sati’s earrings or eyes are said to have fallen in Varanasi at this hallowed location. The most important Hindu holiday for Indian ladies, Kajali Tij, is joyfully celebrated at the Vishalakshi Temple. This event takes place every fortnight on the third day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada (August).
Sati was the Prajapati Daksha’s daughter, and she wedded Lord Shiva against her father’s desires. Prajapati Daksha once arranged a large Yagya, but he failed to invite his daughter and son-in-law. Sati was heartbroken about her father’s actions. When she arrived, her father humiliated her by ignoring Sati. She couldn’t take any more of his husband’s (Lord Shiva’s) insults and committed suicide by jumping into the Yagya fire. Her body did not burn when she died.
Lord Shiva was enraged, and He had abducted His Virabhadra Rupa. He severed Daksha’s head, but He eventually pardoned him by restoring his life. Lord Shiva had traveled the cosmos, grieved, by taking the Sati’s body. Finally, Lord Vishnu used His Chakra to dissect Sati’s body into 52 parts. Each body part was transformed into a Shakti Pitha. The temple had been built where the body fragment had fallen to the ground. Lord Shiva had established 52 Bhairavas as guardians for each Shakti Pitha to keep the Shakti Pithas safe. Her eyes or earrings are said to have fallen in Varanasi, which is why the Vishalakshi Temple in Varanasi is named for her.
In Varanasi, six temple locations represent Shastanga (six-fold) yoga. The holy River Gange, the Vishwanath Temple, the Vishalakshi Temple, the Kala Bhairava Temple, the Dhudiraj Temple (which is dedicated to Lord Ganesha), and the Dandapani Temple are among them (dedicated to Lord Shiva).
Before giving adoration to the Vishalakshi Maa, devotees bathe in the Gange’s holy water. Offering puja, Jal, and reciting hymns to the goddess, according to believers, is extremely advantageous since the goddess bestows success and wealth. Unmarried girls pray to Goddess Vishalakshi to find their prince charming, childless mothers to have a child, and unfortunate individuals to have good luck.
In October, devotees celebrate Navaratri at this temple, as well as the Goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon (Mahishasura). In the Chaitra fortnight, they celebrate another Navaratri (March). They worship Navadurga every nine days (nine Durgas).
Vishalakshi Manikarnika is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas, according to the Puranas. The Sati’s karna kundala (earring) is said to have fallen here, which is why the Manikarni or Manikarnika is named after her. The Puranas state unequivocally that Varanasi would continue to exist after the Pralaya. Vishalakshi Temple is a potent Shakti Peeth that is said to bestow a lot of blessings on devotees.
Above the main entrance of the Vishalakshi Temple is an ornate gopuram. A closer look reveals lions guarding a door, above which a magnificent marble relief portraying the Hindu goddess Lakshmi may be found. She’s sitting on a lotus, with elephants on either side pouring water over her, producing a composite glyph that symbolizes abundance. The temple’s inner border is essentially a concrete wall with an area that protrudes like a shelf and displays a variety of Shiva lingams, nagas, and a stunning Ganesh sculpture. A marble figure of Adi Shankaracharya, the famed philosopher monk, seated cross-legged, stands directly behind the main shrine and opposite the door.
A neighboring room on the right side of the temple serves as a sacred storage place. It has two gated regions, one with a sculpted horse and the other with an alternate representation of the goddess Vishalakshi. These are occasionally brought out during special festival processions when Ma Vishalakshi is wheeled about for a little tour of the local streets while seated on the horse. Within this space is also a minor Shiva shrine with a large lingam–the abstract image of masculine creative force, or sacred phallus–dedicated to Shiva.
Surya (Sun), Chandra (Moon), Mangala (Mars), Budha (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (Ascending/North lunar node), and Ketu (Descending/South lunar node) are among the planetary deities from Vedic Astrology shown in an anthropomorphic form on an altar in this room. Regular worship in the form of flower and leaf offerings, as well as being marked with vivid vermilion powder, is paid to these depictions.
The verandah right in front of the main shrine is the most ornate part of the temple. Its four concrete pillars have been so heavily coated that when you touch them, they seem entirely smooth. Sculpted reliefs with floral motifs, yantras, and protective figures adorn them. The ceiling directly above is painted with a grid of 12 squares, each displaying a different image from a zodiac house, to create a canopy-like effect.
Finally, we arrive at the main shrine, which houses Vishalakshi’s seat. The sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha in Sanskrit) houses an exquisite marble shrine that houses a smaller shrine that houses the image. This “nesting” of shrines creates a layered, “Russian doll” look. As the existing edifice was built up around it, the original, extremely ancient murti and its associated shrine were put in the bigger shrine and temple.
A magnificent murti carved from a solid piece of polished black stone represents the goddess Vishalakshi. Her uplifted right arm holds a lotus in its palm, while her downturned left hand’s palm is vacant and looking away. When the front doors are open and the temple is not too crowded, her darshan can be easily received from the street.
HOW TO REACH?
At a distance of 5 km from Varanasi Junction, Sri Kashi Vishalakshi Temple is a Hindu temple situated at Mir Ghat on the banks of the Ganges. The temple is easily accessible through any means.
The temple is open on all days from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
There’s no entry fee for this temple.