Kashi Vishwanath Temple
|Kashi Vishwanath Temple|
|File:Kashi Vishwanath Mandir.jpg|
|Proper name:||Kashi Vishwanath Mandir.|
|Devanagari:||काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर|
|Architecture and culture|
|Primary deity:||Vishwanath (Shiva)|
|Important festivals:||Maha Shivaratri|
|Creator:||Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar|
Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Hindi: काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर) is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Varanasi, the holiest existing place of Hindus, where at least once in life a Hindu is expected to do pilgrimage, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. It is in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, which claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The temple has been referred to in Hindu theology for a very long time and as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The Gyanvapi Mosque, which is adjacent to the temple, is the original site of the temple. The current structure was built by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780. Since 1983, the temple has been managed by the government of Uttar Pradesh. During the religious occasion of Shivratri, Kashi Naresh (King of Kashi) is the chief officiating priest and no other person or priest is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. It is only after he performs his religious functions that others are allowed to enter.
Standing on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges, Varanasi is the oldest surviving city of the world and the cultural capital of India. It is in the heart of this city that there stands in its fullest majesty the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in which is enshrined the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanath. Here gravitate the teeming millions of India to seek benediction and spiritual peace by the darshan of this Jyotirlinga which confers liberation from the bondages of maya and the inexorable entanglements of the world. A simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and bhakti. Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India. Tradition has it that the merits earned by the darshan of other jyotirlinga scattered in various parts of India accrue to devotee by a single visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Deeply and intimately implanted in the Hindu mind, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living embodiment of our timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple attracts visitors not only from India but abroad as well and thereby symbolises man's desire to live in peace send harmony with one another.
As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of protection) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light. Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity - each considered different manifestation of Shiva. At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Deogarh in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.
The temple structure 
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 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well) and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the Jyotirlinga from invaders.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple receives around 3000 visitors every day. On certain occasions the numbers reach 100,000.
Importance of the temple 
The temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places of worship in Hindu religion and most of the leading Hindu saints, including Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Gurunanak have visited the site. A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (liberation). Thus, people from all over the nation try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage the temple, and the pilgrimage would also include a visit to the temple at Rameswaram in South India, where people take water samples of the Ganges to perform prayer at the temple and bring back sand from near that temple. Due to the immense popularity and holiness of Kashi Vishwanath temple, hundreds of temples across the nation have been built in the same architectural style. Many legends record that the true devotee achieves freedom from death and saṃsāra by the worship of Shiva, Shiva's devotees on death being directly taken to his abode on Mount Kailash by his messengers and not to Yama. The superiority of Shiva and his victory over his own nature—Shiva is himself identified with death—is also stated. There is a popular belief that Shiva himself blows the mantra of salvation into the ears of people who choose to end their lives at the Vishwanath temple.
|An article related to|
A Shiva temple has been mentioned in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana.In 490 AD, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built. In 11th century AD, Hari Chandra constructed a temple. Muhammad Ghori destroyed it along with other temples of Varanasi during his raid in 1194. Reconstruction of the temple started soon after. This was demolished by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. After Aibak's death the temple was again rebuilt by many Hindu emperors. In 1351 it was destroyed again by Firuz Shah Tughlaq. The temple was rebuilt in 1585 by Todar Mal, the revenue minister of Akbar's court. Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed Gyanvapi Mosque, which still exists alongside the temple. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. It is said that the Shiv-Linga jumped into the well and the original Shiv-linga now resides there. The current temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar, the Hindu Maratha queen of Malwa kingdom, in 1780. The gold that covers the spires of the temple was a gift from the Sikh ruler of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Many noble families from various ancestral kingdoms of India and their prior establishments make generous contributions for the operations of the temple.
In popular culture 
- In Sid Meier's Civilization IV, the Kashi Vishwanath temple is a religious complex that can be built by a Great Prophet, thus establishing a holy shrine in the Hindu holy city.
Varanasi is easily accessible from all parts of the country. Very well connected by road, rail and air, the City offers convenient and comfortable travelling options to and from other cities of India.
By Air 
Indian Airlines flies to Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport which is 22 km. from Varanasi and 30 km. from Sarnath. There is a direct, daily flight connection between Varanasi and New Delhi. It also connects major cities of India to the Holy place. Some of the cites that are connect through Airways are Lucknow, Kanpur, New Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Calcutta, Ahmedabad, Mumbai,Bhuvaneshwar, Bangalore, Bhopal, Indore, Chennai. For travel reservations contact Indian Airlines.
By Rail 
Varanasi Railway Station is an important and major rail junction. The city is served by trains from all metros and major cities across the country. New Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Gwalior, Meerut, Indore, Guwahati, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun, Bangalore, Mysore, Kanpur, Ahmedabad have direct rail connections.
By Road 
Varanasi, on (National Highway) NH2 from Calcutta to Delhi, NH7 to Kanya Kumari and NH29 to GoraKhpur is connected literally to the rest of the country by good motorable, all – weather roads. Some important road distances are: Agra 565 km, Allahabad 128 km, Bhopal 791 km, Bodhgaya 240 km, Kanpur 330 km, Khajuraho 405 km, Lucknow 286 km, Patna 246 km, Sarnath 10 km, Lumbini Nepal 386 km, KushiNagar 250 km. (via Gorkhpur), UPSRTC Bus Stand, Sher Shah Suri Marg, Golgadda Bus Stand.
Local Transport 
Taxis: Private taxis are available from travel agencies, hotels, etc., auto rickshaws, cycle rickshaws and Tempos are also readily available. Left Luggage Facility: Left luggage facility is available at both the Varanasi and Mughalsarai railway stations(24 Hours).
Pooja Details 
Aarti is also known as "Aaratrik" or "Aarartik" and "Nirajan" also. Aarti is done at the end of Pooja. Aarti completes the mistakes if remained during Pooja.
There are 5 aartis of Shree Kashi Vishwanath Ji:
1. Mangala Aarti :- 3.00 - 4.00 (Morning).
2. Bhog Aarti :- 11.15 to 12.20 (Day).
3. Sandhya Aarti :- 7.00 to 8.15 (Evening).
4. Shringar Aarti :- 9.00 to 10.15 (night).
5. Shayan Aarti :- 10.30-11.00 (night).
See also 
- "India travelogue Impressions of India: Kashi Viswanath".
- Koenraad Elst (1990). Ram Janmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid, A Case Study in Hindu-Muslim Conflict.
- "Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple - A Brief history".
- R. 2003, pp. 92-95
- Eck 1999, p. 107
- See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
- Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
- Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
- Vivekananda Vol. 4
- Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
- "Cultural holidays - Kashi Vishwanath temple".
- "History!Kashi Vishwanath temple".
- "Temples Of India - Kashi Vishwanth Temple Varanasi".
- "Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Official Website".
-  Ghori's conquest of North India
- The Sacred Complex of Kashi. Anmol Publications. First published 1974 Reprinted 2005. p. 310.
- Islam and Indian culture. Anmol Publications. First published 2004. p. 80.
- "The Temple of Vishwanath".
- Chaturvedi, B. K. (2006), Shiv Purana (First ed.), New Delhi: Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd, ISBN 81-7182-721-7
- Eck, Diana L. (1999), Banaras, city of light (First ed.), New York: Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-11447-8
- Gwynne, Paul (2009), World Religions in Practice: A Comparative Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell Publication, ISBN 978-1-4051-6702-4.
- Harding, Elizabeth U. (1998). "God, the Father". Kali: The Black Goddess of Dakshineswar. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 156–157. ISBN 978-81-208-1450-9.
- Lochtefeld, James G. (2002), The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M, Rosen Publishing Group, p. 122, ISBN 0-8239-3179-X
- R., Venugopalam (2003), Meditation: Any Time Any Where (First ed.), Delhi: B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd., ISBN 81-8056-373-1
- Vivekananda, Swami. "The Paris Congress of the History of Religions". The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol.4.
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple Website
- Vishwanath Temple
- Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir, Varanasi
- Article in indhistory.com
- Culture holidays - Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
- Information about all jyotrilingas
- Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- New Kashi Vishwanath Temple