Kashi Vishwanath temple is an important temple located in Varanasi. It is a famous shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, Hindu God. It is one of the 12 holiest Shiva temples termed as jyotrilingas. Varanasi is also called as Kashi and Shiva is considered as the ruler of the universe. Vishwanath refers to the term ruler of the universe.
The temple is located on the banks of River Ganges in Varanasi. The temple is located 5 km away from the Cantt railway station. Maduadih railway station is just 4 km away from the temple. You can reach the temple by taxi or auto rickshaw.
The temple will be at prime beauty throughout the year. Winter (October – March) has a pleasant climate which makes sightseeing easier. The rituals starts early by 3 am in the morning. The second ritual starts by 11:15 am. In the evening, rituals starts at 7 pm, 9 pm and 10:30 pm. The temple closes by 11 in the night.
There is no entrance fee to enter the temple. If you are planning to perform rituals under your name, you need to buy tickets for the same. Buying flowers for the deity from the shops near the temple is a common act. It is not compulsory to buy flowers. Giving donations to the priest or putting money in the hundi is not compulsory.
The temple complex consist of numerous shrines. The main shrine has a linga (form of Shiva) which is 60 cm tall, placed in a silver altar. The shrine is built in a quadrangle shape and there are many small shrines that surround this main shrine.Jnana Vapi :
This is a well inside the temple. It is said that the jyotilingam (holiest form of linga) is hid in this well to protect it from the invaders. According to legends, the head priest of the temple jumped into the well with the deity statue when invaders attacked the temple. The well borders the mosque and the temple.
This hall leads to the sanctum. In the sanctum, you will find a black colored linga placed on silver platform.Domes :
There are three domes in the temple. All the three domes are made out of gold.
The history of the temple starts with a legendary story. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu got into an argument that broke into a fight about their supremacy. As a moderator, Lord Shiva took a form of light that pierced through three worlds. Shiva demanded them to find the tip of the light and the one who finds the tip of the light would be considered supreme. Vishnu took the form of a pig and dug down to find the tip and Lord Brahma rode up to find the tip. The place where Shiva’s light pierced through the earth are the 12 jyothirlingas and this temple is one among those.
The year of construction of the building is unknown. This temple has been mentioned in many ancient scripts and myths. In 2nd AD, the temple was destroyed by invaders and was again rebuilt by a Gujarathi merchant. In 15thcentury, the temple was destroyed and rebuilt during the reign of Akbar, in 16th century. Since Raja Man Singh, father-in-law of Akbar, built the temple. Hindus boycotted the temple as the King let a Muslim marry into his family. In 17th century, the temple was destroyed by Aurangazeb and a mosque was built in the spot. The remains of the ancient temple can be seen right behind the mosque.
Many rulers tried to destroy the mosque and build back the temple, but failed. Later in 18th century, the temple was built adjacent to the mosque. Many kings from different parts of the world donated fund and statues to the temple. The temple was managed by the kings of Varanasi and now is under the control of Indian Government.
The way towards the temple is called Vishwanath Gali. This road is filled with shops for clothing and delicacies. You can also find religious souvenir items and Pooja items here.