Where the Varana and Asi rivers join the Ganges, a beautiful city was built there in the ancient times. It was named Varanasi. Varanasi, a prime place of pilgrimage, a tribe called kasha used to live. Therefore, Varanasi was also known as Kashi. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. Hence it acquired special importance. A king called Deivodas expanded this area.
Benares is also considered to be one of the Shakti Peethas of India. It is believed that the left hand of Sati fell at Varanasi, and that Annapurna or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here.
Apart from these temples, there are five other sacred spots in Benares. The Asi-Ganga sangamam, at Lolarka houses a temple to the Sun God. The rivers Ganga and Varana converge at a spot where there is a shrine to Kesava. The Panchaganga Ghat houses a temple to Bindu-Madhava. It is believed that five rivers Kirana, Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati and Dhuta-papa converge here. The Dasaswamedha Ghat where it is believed that the ancient kings performed the aswamedha sacrifice ten times and took a dip in the Ganga.
The last of the sacred spots is the Manikarnika Ghat. Legend has it that Vishnu dug a pit with his chakra, and the sweat created during his meditation filled the pit. Shiva shook his head and his jeweled earring fell into the pit, hence the name Manikarnika. Tradition has it that those that die at Benares and get cremated at the Manikarnika ghat, get liberated from the cycle of life and death.
Varanasi is located in Uttarpradesh, in the Gangetic plains. Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is situated in Kashi and famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi this holy place is very dear to Lord Shankar. It is said in the scriptures than this place was forever destroyed when the earth was submerged under water (Pralaya). It is so because Lord Shiva holds this place by his Trishul. Those who come and die here attain liberation. It is said that Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the ones who is going to die, here. He resides here and is the giver of liberation and happiness. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated . In Kashi, in the north, the Durkarkhand with south, Kedar Khand, in the middle, Vishweshwar Khand are situated. In this Vishwanath is situated. 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.
The new temple was built at a distance from the original one by the Queen of Indore Queen Ahilyabai. Other than this Shri Karpati constructed a new temple near the Ganges. One can stand a bit far from the place and worship Lord Vishweshwar. Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the highly revered shrines of Lord Shiva. Located in the holy city of Varanasi, Vishwanath Temple rests on the western banks of Ganges. Varanasi is a small city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in India. With 3500 years of documented history, this holy city is acclaimed to be the oldest living city in the world. Earlier, Varanasi used to be known as Kashi, perhaps this is the reason the shrine is popular as Kashi Vishwanath.
Vishwanath Mandir is known for comprising one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (Linga of light) of Lord Shiva. The presiding deity is known as Vishwanath or Vishweshwara, suggesting the "ruler of the world". In the sanctum sanctorum, the holy 'jyotirlingam' is placed in a silver alter. This sacred 'Lingam' of Lord Shiva captures the main devotional focus of Varanasi. Thousands of devotees and pilgrims come of offer their obeisance to Lord Shiva. Vishwanath Temple has been mentioned in the holy scriptures for numerous times.
In the Hindu religion, the temple is regarded as one of the most important places of worship. As per the Hindu folklore, the temple must be visited once in the entire lifetime. A holy dip in Ganga River along with the 'darshan' of Lord Vishwanath is regarded as the leading way to 'Moksha' (salvation). Due to the reason, people seek to visit the place at least once in their life span.
In the complex, there are several shrines dedicated to Mahakala, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri. Hindu mythology states Vishwanath Mandir since the earliest times. In the Shaiva philosophy, the temple had been a central part of worship. Kashi Vishwanath Mandir has received many eminent Hindu saints like Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Gurunanak.
Importance of the temple
The temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places of worship in Hindu religion and most of the leading Hindu saints, including Adi Sankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Goswami Tulsidas, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Gurunanak have visited this site. A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (liberation).
Thus, people from all over the nation, try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage the temple, and the pilgrimage would also include a visit to the temple at Rameswaram in South India, where people take the water samples of the Ganges to perform prayer at the temple and bring back the sand from near that temple. Due to the immense popularity and holiness of this temple, hundreds of temples across the nation have been built with the same style and architecture.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Architecture
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple Banaras consists of a mandapa and a sanctum, besides many subsidiary shrines. The sanctum has a linga made of black stone and is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. On the southern entrance of the temple, there are three temples in a row one behind the other, dedicated to Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri and Avimukta Vinayaka. There are a group of five lingas enclosed in the temple called Nilakantheshvar temple. Shanishchara and Virupaksha temples are seen just above the Avimuka Vinayaka temple. There is another linga called Avimukteshvara which is seen on the right, near the entrance. Some people suggest that original Jyotirlinga at the place is not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara Jyotirlinga.
There is a well called Gyan-Kupor (the well of Knowledge), located beside the temple. Legend has it that when the Shiva Lingam was removed from the original temple, it was hidden in this well to protect it from Aurangazeb.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple Festivals
Mahashivratri is celebrated in a grand manner at Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the 6th night of the dark Phalgun (February or March) every year.