Kashi Vishwanath Baba

The Kashi Vishwanath temple is located in the heart of the cultural capital of India, Varanasi. It stands on the western bank of India's holiest river Ganges. Varanasi, or Banaras, situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi, the temple of Vishwanatha can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, also known as Golden Temple is the most sacred and main temple of Varanasi and it is dedicated to Lord Shiva or Vishveswara (Vishwanath), the presiding deity of the city. It is more popular due to the Gold plating done on its 15.5 meter high spire. One ton of gold donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh has been used in the gold plating of the spire. The Temple (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi is so old that it is a part of Indian mythology and finds mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Through the ages Varanasi was also known variously as "Avimuktaka", "Anandakanana", "Mahasmasana", "Surandhana", "Brahma Vardha", "Sudarsana", "Ramya" and "Kasi" or Kashi - 'the City of Light". The oldest living city in the world, Varanasi is the ultimate destination of all Hindu pilgrims searching for moksha from the cycle of birth and re-birth. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is the center of faith for millions of Hindus. The Jyotirlinga of Shiva, Vishweshwara or Vishwanatha, is enshrined in the Kashi Vishwanath temple, considered as one of the holiest temples of India.

In Hindu religion it is believed that a simple glimpse of the Jyotirlinga is a soul-cleansing experience that transforms life and puts it on the path of knowledge and Bhakti (devotion). A single darshan of Vishweshwara Jyotirlinga is considered to merit more than the darshan of other jyotirlingas, scattered in various parts of India. The word ‘Kashi’ originated from the word ‘Kas’ which means to shine. Stepped in tradition and mythological legacy, Kashi is the ‘original ground’ created by Lord Shiva and Parvati, upon which they stood at the beginning of time.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. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varansi. It is open only to Hindus. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. 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 Vishwanatha. The original temple was located across the road, but it was destroyed by Aurangzeb who built a mosque in its place, but the traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque.. The present temple was built by Ahalya Bai of Indore in 1776.This mosque has minarets towering 71 metres above the Ganges. Now the new Vishwanath Temple situated in the premises of Banaras Hindu University, it is managed by the reputed industrialists - the Birla family.

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple has been a living picture of the timeless cultural traditions and highest spiritual values. A cluster of five lingas enclosed in a temple is called Nilakantheshvar temple. Just above the Avimukteshvara Vinayaka are temples of Shanishchara and Virupaksha. To the right just near the entrance is the temple enshrining a linga called Avimukteshvara. There is a controversy regarding the original Jyotirlinga at the place, which suggests that not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara is the original Jyotirlinga. Situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi, the temple of Vishwanatha can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. There is a well, called Jnana Vapi i.e. wisdom well located to the north of the main temple. As one enters the temple from the southern side the first temple to the left of the pilgrim are three temples in a row one behind the other, Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri and Avimukta Vinayaka.

The Vishwanath temple opens daily at 2.30 A.M. for Mangala Aarti and between 3 to 4 A.M. ticket holders are permitted to join. The timing of general Darshan is from 4 to 11 A.M. The timing for midday Bhog Aarti is from11.30 to 12 A.M. Between 12 noon to 7 P.M., general devotees are free to have Darshan. From 7 to 8.30 P.M. the Sapta Rishi Aarati is held after which Darshan is possible again till 9 P.M. At 9 P.M. the Shringar/Bhog Aarati starts and after that Darshan is possible only from outside. Shayana Aarti starts at 10.30 P.M. and the temple closes at 11 P.M. Most of the offerings at the Kashi Vishwanath temple are given to poor. The Golden Temple or Kashi Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built by Ahalya Bai of Indore in 1776 and 800 kg of gold plating on the towers were provided by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore. The Shivlinga in the temple is the main devotional focus of the city. Next to the Temple is a Well known as the Gyan Kapur Kuan (well of knowledge). This temple was renovated by Maharani Khaneti ,wife of Sudarshan Shah in 1857.The temple has a Shivling (60 cm. high and 90 Cm. Circumference).People from all over India do also visit the Vishvanath temple during their visits to Uttarkashi, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The Vishwanatha temple consists of a mandapa and a sanctum. Inside the sanctum a linga is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. The Linga is of black stone. Though the interior of the temple is not large and elaborate it presents the peaceful atmosphere ideal for worship.

The five Aaratis of Mahadev is very famous. At this time Shiva is decorated with leaves shaded under huge cobra. Thousands of people come in this time to visit the decorated Vishwanath.Kashi Vishwanath Shiva Lingam in Golden Temple, which has seen many of its destructions is the symbol of mysterious cosmos, which attracts many thousands hindus to offer Ganges-water daily. It is the belief of the people of Banaras is that Baba Vishwanath is responsible for the happiness and sadness of the lives of the people of Banaras. Legend maintains that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the from of a lingam at 12 holy cities in India, Varanasi being one of them.These lingams we known as JYOTIRLINGAMS. To the side of the temple is Gyan-Kupor('The well of Knowledge'). The Jyotirlingam of the original Vishwanath Temple, is believed to be hidden in the well by his devotees to protect it from the early Muslim invaders.

Maavindhayvasini

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