As per the legend and Shiv Puran, Kashi is considered to be the ultimate center of power, a manifestation of all what is indivisible and something infinite in nature. It is one of the 12 existing Jyothir-linga sites where the presiding deity is nothing but different forms of Shiva representing the endless nature.
The name Varanasi where the temple is located got its name from the two tributaries of river Ganges, Varana and Asi. This place was called Ananda kanan long back where Gods came to please themselves.
There is a belief that the left hand of Sati the reigning queen, fell when she immolated herself. It is also believed that Lord Brahma started his creation from this very spot. A person who dies here in kashi attains mukti as the Taraka mantra is imparted by Lord Shiva into the ears of the dying person.
Later on the queen of Indore Ahilyabai Holkar built the Vishwanath temple and a few years later the gold plating of the two spires were done by Maharaja Ranjit Singh the Sikh King of Lahore. The king of Nepal donated the bell for this temple while King Baji Rao Peshwa built the kala bhairava temple.
Kashi Vishwanath temple is located very close to the dashashwamedh ghat. During the late medieval period raids from central part of the country, the sacred lingam was hidden in the nearby Jnana Vapi Kupa or the wisdom well.
There are several bathing ghats in Kashi and few important ones are jyotirlingam vishweshwar, manikarnika ghat, varuna sangamam and Bindu madhav. The temple is located near the Vishweshwar kund. To the north of this temple is Omkar kund while in the south the kedar kund is located.
The temple is almost 100 feet high and as per legend Dandapani and kal Bhairabh guards the city of Kashi.
The Vishwanath temple complex is basically a series of smaller temple shrine located in a narrow by lane. The main deity inside the shrine is surrounded by other shrines and is made up of black stone almost 60 cm high and is enshrined on a silver platform.
The temple has distinct three sections. The first one comprises the spire of Lord Mahadeva, the second section is the dome made up of gold and the third section comprises of the gold spire with the trident and flag. The golden spire resembles the golden temple and hence is also known as the golden temple of Hindus. The golden spires are almost close to 16 meters and supposedly 1 tonnes of gold were used.
Places to visit
Tulsi manas mandir
Apart from the several ghats nearby there are other places as well where a pilgrim can visit. Dedicated to Lord Rama, Tulsi manas mandir is situated just 7 kilometres from the railway station. The temple has legend that the saint Tulsi das wrote the Ramacharita manas here. The temple is built in white marble with rama online casino charita manas engraved on the walls.
Durga Kund Temple
Almost at a similar distance from the railway station there is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. Built during 18th century the temple has nagara style of architecture with five spires covering the entire structure from top.
Gyanvapi Mosque is another place one could visit nearby which was built by Aurangazeb in place of the original Vishwanath temple. The façade architecture is almost similar to Taj Mahal’s entrance and is situated beside the Jnana Vapi Kupa where the lingam was hidden during the temple demolition.
How to reach
The city of Varanasi is well connected by train and road as well as covered by air. Major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai are connected to Varanasi. There are daily domestic flights to the city and many air taxi private operators also operate within the Delhi – Agra – Varanasi – Khajuraho corridor.
By train it is well connected to Delhi and Kolkata as well as major cities of Uttar Pradesh. One of the major railway junctions is just 10 kilo meter south of Varanasi and Rajdhani stops at Mughalsarai.
The city is well connected by road as well. Almost every major towns and cities are connected by public and private transport.
Where to stay
The city of Varanasi or Benaras has two distinct localities. The civil and cantonment zones on either side of the railway station and almost all the big and small hotels as well as guest houses are located in the civil lines. There are hotels for budget travellers as well and hence is not a very costly place to visit.
The ideal time to visit the city is between October and March as the temperature is manageable during the period.
Varanasi is famous for both Mughlai and vegetarian food. The street foods are something one would die for and of course the famous Benaras paan (betel leaf). Food is not costly and one could afford to have sumptuous meal without much constrain in pocket.