Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most legendary temples that is devoted to Lord Shiva. It is situated in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the spiritual river Ganga.
Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple is admired as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Shiva. Jyotirlinga is considered the representation of the supreme lord Shiva which means the radiant image of the ultimate Almighty. This jyotirlinga is enshrined in the Grabha Griha on a silver platform. It adds to the holiness of the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the city, Kasha itself. The Jyotirlinga in the sanctum looks dark brown and is placed on the silver platform.
The main deity is recognized by the names Shri Vishwanatha and Vishweshwara meaning Lord of the universe. In ancient times, Varanasi is known as Kashi and hence the temple is popularly known as Kashi Vishwanath temple.
Some scriptures claim that several saints and religious leaders such as Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Sathya Sai Baba, and Guru Nanak have also visited this temple. It is also known that Lord Shiva resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness.
A visit to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and bathing in the holy river Ganga is believed to lead one on a path of Moksha. People believe that those who die naturally at the temple make a direct way to the ultimate power. The lord Shiva himself blows the mantra of moksha in their ears. Many legends record that the true devotee achieves freedom from death and again rebirth through the worship of the Shiva
Structure of Shri Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple
Shri Vishwanatha Temple is located within the crowded lanes of Varanasi on the banks of the river Ganga. The temple can be reached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. The temple complex consists of various shrines. The main shrine has a linga which is 60 cm tall and located on a silver altar. The shrine is built in a quadrangle shape and it is surrounded by the sculptures of other gods.
There are smaller shrines of Virupaksh Gauri, Sanishwara, Vishnu, Virupaksha, Vinayaka, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, and Kaalbhairav.
There is also a small well, which is known as Jnana Vapi (Gyaan Vapi), a wisdom well in between the temple premises, which is the remains of the mosque. Vishwanath Jyotirlinga was found hidden in this well to protect it from invaders. The main priest of this temple jumped into the well along with Shivalinga to hide it.
The complete structure of this temple has a total of three parts. The first includes a spire on the Mandir of Lord Vishwanath or Mahadeva. The second is a gold dome and the third is the gold spire. The third one is at the top Lord Vishwanath carrying a flag and a trident. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is hence popularly known as the ′Golden Temple′. The name’s derived from the spire of the shrine which is embellished with gold. The golden spire on top is believed to fulfill anyone’s wish, which is made after seeing it.
History of Vishwanath Temple
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been destroyed and reconstructed several times. The temple was supposed to have been built in 1490. However, the initial Jyotirlinga of Kashi Vishwanath was not found. The original Vishwanath temple was destroyed by the army of Qutbud-din Aibak on the order of Mohammad Ghori. Historical records enlist that the temple was rebuilt and destroyed many times by different rulers over several centuries. Mughals plundered the temple time and again.
Though the Mughal Emperor Akbar gave permission to build the original temple, his grandson Aurangzeb destroyed the temple in the 17th century. The grandson of Akbar again constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque there. The remnants of the original temple can be seen right behind the masjid.
Though many rulers tried to destroy the masjid and build back the temple, none of them succeed. Later in the 18th century, the current structure was built adjacent to the Masjid by Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar, the queen of Indore. It is believed that Lord Shiva had appeared in the dreams of the queen. Then the queen took it as a sign to maintain the glory of kasha by reconstructing the temple and providing funds to it.
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh from Indore donated a ton of his gold to make the fully gold-plated towers. Meanwhile, the temple was managed by the king of Varanasi and now is under the government of Uttar Pradesh.
Kasha Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi is revered as one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Thus, a number of devotees from far away try to visit this sacred place. The devoted also take bath in the holy river Ganges at least once in their lifetime in order to lead towards the path of salvation.