The 12 Jyotirlingas
Vishwanath Temple is located amidst the crowded lanes in the holy city of Varanasi also known as Kashi and Benares. The Vishwanath Temple enshrines one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Lord Shiva and is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
- On the banks of Holi Ganga..The Varnasi
- The Temple
It is believed that Varanasi is the point at which the first Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remain the devotional focus of Varanasi. Millions of pilgrims converge here to perform an abhishekam to the sacred Jyotirlingam with sacred water of river Ganga.
The Legend of Khashi
Kasi is amongst the holy spots for visit by the Hindus. It is believed that a visit to Kasi ensures liberation & hence pious Hindus seek a visit during their lifetime. The Lord himself has declared this spot as his Royal residence. Goddess Parvathi's mother felt ashamed that her son-in-law had no decent dwelling. To please Parvathi Devi, Siva asked Nikumbha to provide him with a dwelling place at Kasi.
On the request of Nikumbha, Aunikumbha a brahmin made Divodas construct a temple for the Lord here. The pleased Lord granted boons to all his devotees. But Divodas was not blessed with a son. The angered Divodas demolished the structure. Nikubha cursed that the area would be devoid of people. When the place was emptied Lord Siva once again took residence here permanently. The Lord along with Parvathi Devi once again started blessing his devotees with wonderful boons.
Parvathi Devi was so pleased that she offered food (annam) to one and all and hence is worshipped as Annapoorani. The Lord himself is seen with a bowl in his hands asking for annam from the seated Devi at the Devi's shrine adajacent to Viswanathar's shrine. This is considered to be one of the 52 Sakthipeedams (the place where Parvathi's left hand fell, when her corpse was cut by Mahavishnu's sudarsana chakram).
The Siva lingam is placed in a square shaped brass plated pit. Devotees are permitted to offer worship such as abhishekam with holy ganga water, garlanding the Lord, karpoora aarathi, etc. personally to the swaymbhu lingam.
There are several smaller shrines around the main shrine. The head of each ghat has a Siva linga shrine. The Lord can be seen placed on a pedestal at every location in the city, even if there is not shrine as such. Behind the temple is situated the temple of Dhundhiraja Ganapathi.
The temple is full of PANDAs who will bug you the moment you enter the temple.They even try to terorize by saying that they will curse,if you do'nt use their services for puja.But for one who believes in the Almighty,these things will not dither much.The temple space is so cramped and no body cares for cleanliness.
History of Vishwanath Temple
The famous Vishwanath Temple has been rebuilt several times. The original was supposed to have been built in 1490. However, the original Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath is a not available. The old temple was destroyed as a result of the Mughal invasion and Aurangazeb built a mosque in place of it. The ancient idol of Vishweshwar is situated in Jnana-Vapi. Even today the western wall of the mosque show the remnants of a temple which had very intricate and fine artwork on it. Both the Kashi Vishwanath and the Gyanvapi Mosque are adjacent to each other .
Varanasi, which was a pious place of pilgrimage for the hindus, soon became an eyesore and source of jealousy for the Muslims. From 1033 to 1669 AD Kashi came under several destructive attacks. Temples were demolished and Masjids built there instead. But due to the dedication of the Hindu devotees, the JyotirLinag pilgrimage place continued to develop. During the reign of the British and the Marathas, this place really developed well. Even the Jaina and Boudha monks helped to keep the place of the city intact.
The Kashi Vishweshwar temple as we see it now was built by Ahalya Devi Holkar in 1777 AD. In 1785 AD, the then King of Kashi, Mansaram and his son Belvant Singh built many more temples near Varanasi. In 1755 AD, the Avadh pantof pratinidhi (representative) got the old temple of Bindumadhava repaired and renovated it beautifully. The kalabhairava temple was built by Srimant Baji Rao Peshwa in 1852 AD.
King Ranjit Singh had the Kashi Vishwanath temple towers covered in gold. A huge bell hangs in the temple. It was donated by the King of Nepal. Surrounding Saranath, there are many Budhhist stupas, Viharas and Chaitra grihas. In 1931 AD the mahabodhi society had built a very beautiful Buddha temple in Saranath.
The Hindu devotees visit Kashi to make offering. Here they perform many rituals and consider themselves blessed. Along side, several foreign tourists visit this place regularly. Places worth seeing include Ghats, temples, tapobhoomi and the scenic beauty of the surroundings. Kashi Kshetra and Sri Vishweswara JyotirLinga are connected as the holiest shrines in the world. The Ganga water here is considered as the nectar of the earth. Dying in Kashi or performing the final rites is considered as the way to the Heavens. Kashi - Rameshwar(1) yatra is the prime pilgrimage for the Hindus.
Jaya Ganga, Jaya Vishwanath, Om Namah Shivaya. The entire area echoes with these chantings
Ramya Nrinaam Sugatidakhil Sevyamana”
Atragata Vividha dushkritkarinopi’
Papakshaye virajasaha sumanaprakashah