Kashi Vishwanath Temple and its history

Kashi is the old name for the city of Benaras, now called Varanasi. The place is known to be on the banks of the holy river Ganges, called Ganga in Hindi. Here lies Kashi Vishwanath temple.

People know Varanasi for its temple and the most famous temple there is the Kashi Vishwanath temple. It is located in the Vishwanath Gali in the city and has millions of devotees visiting it every year. 

PM Modi is also present in Varanasi today to inaugurate the Kasi Vishwanath Dham.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu Temples. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has one of the 12 Jyotirlingas or the Jyotirlingams which make it one of the holiest temples of Shiva. 

The major deity of the temple is Shri Vishwanath which means the Lord of the Universe. 

Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is said to be 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.

To reach here, tourists have to pass through Kashi Vishwanath Gali, famous for its shops selling pooja items and sweets. There’s also a popular ladies’ corner in its alleyway that tourists explore for affordable shopping. Adjacent to Kashi Vishwanath Mandir is Annapoorna Temple, Dundiraj Vinayak, and Gyanwapi which are regularly frequented by pilgrims.

The Hindu establishment of the Kashi Vishwanath temple has been the center of Shaiva philosophy since time immemorial. Many Muslim rulers demolished it from time to time, Aurangzeb being the last one.

The present structure of the temple is the one that Ahilya Bai Holkar built. The year in which the person built the current structure was 1780. The Government of Uttar Pradesh is managing it since 1983.

The Shiva Purana, a holy book of Hindus, mentions Jyoritlingas. These are the structural manifestations of Lord Shiva. The Hindus consider them to be Him, that is, Shiva. 

The twelve jyotirlingas 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.

They also include Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga, Deogarh in Deoghar, Jharkhand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

This temple is situated on Manikarnika Ghat and is considered as a Shakti Peeth or the place of worship for the Shaktism sect of Hinduism. The origin of the Shaktipeets is mentioned in Daksha Yaga. 

Kashi Vishwanath temple has a seal or Lord Avimukteshwara dating back to 9-10 century BC which was discovered in Rajghat excavations. The temple is also mentioned in the boom of Xuanzang who visited Benaras in 635 CE. It also finds a mention in Skanda Purana. 

Jyotirlinga is the representation of the nirguna or the formless supreme reality. This is the core of the creation, out of which Shiva is formed. Shiva is the Saguna or the form of the creation.

Jyotirlinga is the form where Shiva appeared out as a fiery column of light. There are 12 Jyotirlingas or manifestations of Shiva. 

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