Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Coordinates: 25°18′38.79″N 83°0′38.21″E / 25.3107750°N 83.0106139°E / 25.3107750; 83.0106139
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Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Vishveshvara Mandir
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
DeityVishveshwar or Vishwanath (Shiva)
FestivalsMaha Shivaratri
Governing bodyShri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust
StateUttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in Uttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Location within Uttar Pradesh
Geographic coordinates25°18′38.79″N 83°0′38.21″E / 25.3107750°N 83.0106139°E / 25.3107750; 83.0106139

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is located in Vishwanath Gali, in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites and is among the twelve Jyotirlinga, shrines which are said to be the most sacred abodes of Shiva. Standing on the western banks of the Ganges, the presiding deity is known by the names Shri Vishwanath and Vishweshwara (IAST: Vishveshvara or Vishveshvur), literally meaning Lord of the Universe.

Varanasi was called Kashi ("shining") in ancient times, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple is considered a central part of worship in Shaiva culture by Hindu scriptures.

The temple had been demolished several times, most recently by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site.[1] The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha ruler Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1780.[2]

Since 1983, the temple has been managed by a board of trustees set up by the government of Uttar Pradesh.[3]


As per the Shiva Purana, Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of preservation) once had an argument about supremacy.[4] To test their powers, Shiva pierced the three mystical states of the earth as a huge, endless pillar of light, known as a Jyotirlinga. At first, Vishnu incarnated as a boar (Varaha) to dig the earth to search for the base of the pillar, while Brahma, in the form of a swan, searched the sky to find the top of the pillar. Brahma falsely claimed to have found the top of the pillar. However, Vishnu confessed modestly about his failure to locate the base. Shiva cut off Brahma's fifth head as a punishment and cursed Brahma, saying that he would no longer be worshipped. Because Vishnu was honest, he would be worshipped just as much as Shiva and have his own temples for all time.[5]

The Jyothirlinga is an ancient axis mundi symbol representing the supremely formless (nirguna) reality at the core of creation, out of which the form (saguna) of Shiva appears. The Jyothirlinga shrines are thus places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.[6][7] There are 64 forms of Shiva, not to be confused with Jyotirlingas. Each of the twelve Jyotirlinga sites takes the name of the presiding deity; each is considered a different manifestation of Shiva.[8] At all these sites, the primary image is the lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolising the infinite nature of Shiva.[8][9][10] The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttarakhand, Bhimashankar in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Baidyanath Jyotirlinga in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.[4][11]

The Manikarnika Ghat is on the bank of the river Ganges. This holy site is very near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and is named Shakti Pitha, a revered place of worship for the Shaktism sect. The Daksha Yaga, an important Shaivite literature, also mentions the origin of Shakti Peethas.[12]

Hindu scriptures describes Vishweshara as the sacred deity of Varanasi, holding the position of king over all the other deities as well as over all the inhabitants of the city and the extended circuit of the Panchkosi, an area (the sacred boundary of Varanasi) spreading over 50 miles.[13]


Madhuri Desai notes that accounts of the history of the temple center around a litany of repeated destruction and reconstruction.[14] Pilgrims visiting the present Kashi Vishwanath Temple are informed about the timelessness of the lingam.[14]

Ancient and classical period[edit]

The temple is mentioned in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana (4th-5th century).

Medieval period and destruction[edit]

The original Vishwanath temple, initially known as the Adi Vishveshwara Temple, was destroyed by the Ghurids in 1194, when Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam returned to India and defeated Jayachandra of Kannauj near Chandawar and afterwards razed the city of Kashi.[15] In a few years[year needed], the Razia Mosque was constructed in its place.[16][17][18] In 1230, the temple was rebuilt near the Avimukteshwara Temple, away from the main site, during the reign of Delhi's Sultan Iltutmish (1211–1266). It was demolished again during the rule of either Hussain Shah Sharqi (1447–1458) or Sikandar Lodi (1489–1517).

Mughal period[edit]

Sketches by James Prinsep[19]
The Gyanvapi Mosque sketched as the Temple of Vishveshwur, Benares.
Plan of the Ancient Temple of Vishveshvur.
The dotted line shows the portion of the temple occupied by the present Masjid.

Raja Man Singh built the temple during Mughal Emperor Akbar's rule. Raja Todar Mal further rebuilt the temple in 1585, but orthodox Brahmins chose to boycott the temple because his daughter was married to Islamic rulers.[17][20] During the rule of Jahangir, Vir Singh Deo either restored or completed the construction of an earlier temple.[21] In 1669, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the temple and built the Gyanvapi Mosque in its place.[22] The remains of the erstwhile temple can be seen in the foundation, the columns, and at the rear part of the mosque.[23]

Maratha and British period[edit]

Elevation of the present temple structure

In 1742, the Maratha ruler Malhar Rao Holkar made a plan to demolish the mosque and reconstruct the Vishweshwar temple at the site. However, his plan did not materialise, partially because of the intervention of the Nawab of Awadh, who was given control of the territory.[24]: 2  Around 1750, the Maharaja of Jaipur commissioned a survey of the land around the site, with the objective of purchasing land to rebuild the Kashi Vishwanath temple.[24]: 85  However, his plan to rebuild the temple did not materialise either. In 1780, Malhar Rao's daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar rebuilt the present temple adjacent to the mosque.

In 1828, Baiza Bai, widow of the Maratha ruler Daulat Rao Scindhia of Gwalior State, built a low-roofed colonnade with over 40 pillars in the Gyan Vapi precinct.[25] During 1833–1840, the boundary of Gyanvapi Well, the ghats and other nearby temples were constructed. Many noble families from various ancestral kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent and their prior establishments make generous contributions for the operations of the temple.

In 1835, Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Sikh Empire, on the behest of his wife, Maharani Datar Kaur, donated 1 tonne of gold for plating the temple's dome. In 1841, Raghuji Bhonsle III of Nagpur donated silver to the temple.[24]: 200 [26]

The temple was managed by a hereditary group of pandits or mahants. After the death of Mahant Devi Dutt, a dispute arose among his successors. In 1900, his brother-in-law Pandit Visheshwar Dayal Tewari, filed a lawsuit, which resulted in him being declared the head priest.[27]


The puja of the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple, on the western side of the disputed Gyanvapi Mosque, was restricted after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992 due to the ensuing deadly riots that followed the demolition of the mosque. In August 2021, five Hindu women petitioned a local court in Varanasi to be allowed to pray at the Maa Shringar Gauri Temple.[28]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing at the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham on 13 December 2021.

In 2019, the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor Project was launched by Narendra Modi to ease access between the temple and the Ganges River, creating a wider space to prevent overcrowding. On 13 December 2021, Modi inaugurated the corridor with a sacred ceremony.[29] A press release by the government said that around 1,400 residents and businesses within the corridor's area were relocated elsewhere and compensated. It also said that more than 40 ruined, centuries-old temples were found and rebuilt, including the Gangeshwar Mahadev temple, the Manokameshwar Mahadev temple, the Jauvinayak temple, and the Shri Kumbha Mahadev temple.[30][31]

In February 2022, the sanctum sanctorum of the temple was gold-plated after an anonymous donor from South India donated 60 kg of gold to the temple.[32] Flowers from the temple are recycled into incense by the biomaterials startup Phool.co.[33]

Temple structure[edit]

The original holy well—Gyanvapi in between the temple and Gyanvapi Mosque

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 centimetres (24 in) tall and 90 centimetres (35 in) in circumference housed in a silver altar.[34] The main temple is quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods. There are small temples for Kala Bhairava, Kartikeya, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Ganesha, Shani, Shiva and Parvati in the complex.

There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi also spelled as Gyan vapi (the wisdom well). The Jnana Vapi well sites to the north of the main temple and during the invasion by the Mughals the Jyotirlinga 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 lingam in order to protect the Jyotirlinga from invaders.

There is a Sabha Griha or Congregation Hall leading to the inner Garbha Griha or Sanctum Sanctorum. The venerable Jyotirlinga is a dark brown coloured stone which is enshrined in the Sanctum, placed on a silver platform. Structure of the Mandir is composed of three parts. The first compromises a spire on the temple. The second is gold dome and the third is the gold spire atop the sanctum bearing a flag and a trident.

The Kashi Vishwanath temple receives around 3,000 visitors every day. On certain occasions, the numbers reach 1,000,000 and more. Noteworthy about the temple is 15.5-metre-high gold spire and gold Onion dome. There are three domes each made up of pure gold, donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1835.

Ganga Dwara, Gateway of Corridor that connects Kashi Vishwanath Temple with Ghats of Ganges.

The Shri Kashi Vishwanath Dham corridor was constructed between Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Manikarnika Ghat along the Ganges River, providing various amenities for pilgrims.[35]


Located on the banks of the holy Ganges, Varanasi is regarded among the holiest of the Hindu cities. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is widely recognised as one of the most important places of worship in the Hindu religion. Inside the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishveshvara or Vishvanath. The Vishveshvara Jyotirlinga has a very special and unique significance in the spiritual history of India.

Many leading saints, including Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Bamakhyapa, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Sathya Sai Baba, Yogiji Maharaj, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Mahant Swami Maharaj and Gurunanak have visited the site.[36][unreliable source?] 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, Hindus from all over the world 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 Tamil Nadu in Southern India, where people take water samples of the Ganges to perform prayer at the temple and bring back sand from near that temple. Because of the immense popularity and holiness of Kashi Vishwanath temple, hundreds of temples across India 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 die naturally at the Vishwanath temple.[37]

It is one of the shrines of the Vaippu Sthalams sung by Tamil Saivite Nayanar Sambandar.[38][39][40]

Pitru tharpanam or Pinda Dhaan[edit]

At Dr.Rajendra prasad ghat, if one crosses over to the other side of the river, numerous priest offer pind dhaan services.

Accommodation and transport[edit]

The temple is around 4km from Kashi railway station. There are various dharmshalas, paying guest rooms, and other hotels and lodges available nearby at various prices, including a guest house run by the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple Trust.[41]

Cultural events[edit]

Phalgun Shukla Ekadashi is celebrated as Rangabhari Ekadashi, that is, colours. According to tradition, before Holi, Baba Vishwanath comes back to Kashi after having a cow in the form of mother Bhagwati. The temple complex is echoed by the echo of dozens of Damroos. This tradition has been performed for over 200 years. On Basant Panchami Baba's Tilak is performed, Shivaratri marriage and Rangbhari Ekadashi marks parvati leaving with shiva.[42] These traditions are carried out by the erstwhile Mahant family of the temple for over a century.[43]

These rituals of Baba's marriage ceremony are performed at the residence of Kulpati Tiwari, the erstwhile Mahant of Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Redzone.[44] The seven rituals of Saptarishi Aarti were performed by Baba Vishwanath. According to the Puranas, Kashi is loved by the Saptarishi to the priest, so according to the tradition, the devotees of the Saptarishi Aarti perform the rituals of marriage. The seven archaks under the leadership of Pradhan Archak Pandit Shashibhushan Tripathi (Guddu Maharaj) completed the marriage in Vedic rituals.[45] Mangala Aarti is performed at 3:30 am, Bhog Aarti at 12:00 pm, Saptarishi Aaarti at 7:30 pm and Shringar Aaarti at 11:00 pm.[46]

Yadav community of Kashi associated with Chandravanshi Gop Seva Samiti and Shree Krishna Yadav Mahasabha have been performing jalabhishek on shivling traditionally since 90 years, first started in 1932.[47]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Akhil Bakshi (2004). Between heaven and hell: travels through Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and India: an account of the expedition hands across the borders. Odyssey Books.
  2. ^ "Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple - A Brief history".
  3. ^ Dumper, Michael (2020). Power, piety, and people the politics of holy cities in the twenty-first century. New York. ISBN 978-0-231-54566-2. OCLC 1145080849.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  4. ^ a b R. 2003, pp. 92-95
  5. ^ Saraswati, Saranyu S. (2020). Biological Decoding of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Notion Press. ISBN 9781649516336.
  6. ^ Eck 1999, p. 107
  7. ^ See: Gwynne 2008, Section on Char Dham
  8. ^ a b Lochtefeld 2002, pp. 324-325
  9. ^ Harding 1998, pp. 158-158
  10. ^ Vivekananda Vol. 4
  11. ^ Chaturvedi 2006, pp. 58-72
  12. ^ "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". kottiyoordevaswom.com/. Kottiyoor Devaswam. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  13. ^ Matthew Atmore Sherring (1968). The Sacred City of the Hindus An Account of Benares in Ancient and Modern Times (First ed.). London: Trübner & Company.
  14. ^ a b Desai, Madhuri (2017). "INTRODUCTION: THE PARADOX OF BANARAS". Banaras Reconstructed: Architecture and Sacred Space in a Hindu Holy City. University of Washington Press. pp. 3–16. ISBN 978-0-295-74160-4. JSTOR j.ctvcwnwvg.4.
  15. ^ Satish Chandra (2007). History of Medieval India:800-1700. Orient Longman. p. 71. ISBN 978-81-250-3226-7. In 1194, Muizzuddin returned to India. He crossed the Jamuna with 50,000 cavalry and moved towards Kanauj. A hotly contested battle between Muizzuddin and Jaichandra was fought at Chandawar near Kanauj. We are told that Jaichandra had almost carried the day when he was killed by an arrow, and his army was totally defcated. Muizzuddin now moved on to Banaras which was ravaged, a large number of temples there being destroyed
  16. ^ Shin, Heeryoon (May 2015). Building a "Modern" Temple Town: Architecture and Patronage in Banaras, 1750-1900 (Thesis). Yale University. p. 4, 35, 38, 198.
  17. ^ a b Udayakumar, S. P. (2005). "Ramarajya: Envisioning the Future and Entrenching the Past". Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-275-97209-7.
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  20. ^ S. P. Udayakumar (1 January 2005). Presenting the Past: Anxious History and Ancient Future in Hindutva India. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-275-97209-7.
  21. ^ Pauwels, Heidi (23 March 2011). "A tale of two temples: Mathurā's Keśavadeva and Orcchā's Caturbhujadeva". South Asian History and Culture. 2 (2): 278–299. doi:10.1080/19472498.2011.553497. ISSN 1947-2498. S2CID 144492608.
  22. ^ Catherine B. Asher (24 September 1992). Architecture of Mughal India. Cambridge University Press. pp. 278–279. ISBN 978-0-521-26728-1.
  23. ^ Vanessa Betts; Victoria McCulloch (30 October 2013). Delhi to Kolkata Footprint Focus Guide. Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-1-909268-40-1.
  24. ^ a b c Madhuri Desai (2007). Resurrecting Banaras: Urban Space, Architecture and Religious Boundaries. ISBN 978-0-549-52839-5.
  25. ^ Matthew Atmore Sherring (1868). The Sacred City of the Hindus: An Account of Benares in Ancient and Modern Times. Trübner & co. pp. 55–56.
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  28. ^ "Varanasi court issues notices on shared shrine petition in Ayodhya". www.telegraphindia.com. Retrieved 12 December 2021.
  29. ^ "PM Modi inaugurates Kashi Vishwanath Corridor". The Indian Express. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  30. ^ Verma, Lalmani (13 December 2021). "PM Modi to inaugurate Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi today". The New Indian Express. New Delhi: Express Publications. Retrieved 13 December 2021.
  31. ^ A, Divya (14 December 2021). "Explained: What is changing at the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple complex?". The Indian Express. Retrieved 14 December 2021.
  32. ^ "God meets gold meets faith in 'PM's works' at Kashi Vishwanath Temple". The Indian Express. 4 March 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
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  40. ^ "வாரணாசி, 2-39-7, 6-70-6, 6-7-11".
  41. ^ "Shri Kashi Vishwanath Official Web Portal". www.shrikashivishwanath.org. Retrieved 15 April 2023.
  42. ^ "जब बाबा विश्वनाथ मां भगवती का गौना करा लौटे काशी, ऐसे उड़े रंग-गुलाल | rangbhari ekadashi celebrated in kashi vishwanath temple varanasi - Dainik Bhaskar".
  43. ^ "Kashi Vishwanath Dham project: 13 building owners refuse to sell property | Varanasi News - Times of India". The Times of India. 7 October 2019.
  44. ^ "काशी-विश्वनाथ कॉरिडोर के मुसलमान क्यों बेचैन हैं ?". BBC News हिंदी.
  45. ^ "मौर पहनकर निकले बाबा, लाल चुनरी में गौरा". Amar Ujala.
  46. ^ Karkar, S.C. (2009). The Top Ten Temple Towns of India. Kolkota: Mark Age Publication. p. 10. ISBN 978-81-87952-12-1.
  47. ^ "Yadav Bandhus Perform Jalabhishek Of Lord Shiva". The Times of India. 19 July 2022. Retrieved 20 July 2022.


External links[edit]