Sri Vishwanath Jyotirlinga, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The 9th Jyotirlinga is located in Vishwanath Gali of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of Holy Ganges and is one of the holiest of Shiva Temple.
The earliest mention of this temple is in the Puranas.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous temple in Varanasi, also known as Golden Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of the Universe. Varanasi city is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple.
- It is believed that those who live or/and die in Kashi will attain Moksha or enlightenment. Any act of goodness here will eliminate all sins.
- Kash is one of the oldest cities in the world.
- It is believed that if you see the golden spire and then make a wish, it comes true!
Darshan : 04.00 am to 11.00 am; 12.00 pm to 07.00 pm; 08.30 pm to 09.00 pm
Mangle Aarti : 03.00 am – 04.00 am
Afternoon Bhog : 11.30 am to 12.00 pm
Sapta Rishi Aarti : 07.00 pm to 08.30 pm
Shringar Bhog and Aarti : 09.00 pm
Shayan Aarti : 10.30 pm
Poojas performed at Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple
- Rudrabhishek : Rudrabhishek pooja is dedicated to Lord Shiva and worshipped as Fire or Rudra. This puja wipes out all sins and purifies the atmosphere and it also removes all sorts of planetary related ill-occurrences. Mondays of the month and Pradosham days are considered as ideal for performing this pooja.
- Maharudrabhishek : In this abhishek, recitations of Rigveda, Samveda, Yajurveda and Atharva Veda is done in front of the deities of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
- Laghurudrabhishek : This is done to resolve issues related to health and wealth. It abhishek also remove the harmful effects of planets in the horoscope.
- Shravan Somvar Pooja : The Mondays of Shravan (i.e. July / August) are considered highly auspicious for worshipping Lord Shiva. Devotees observe Somvar Vrat during the Shravan month and perform Poojas in home. Things used for worship are Bilva leaves, white flowers, water honey and milk.
- Lakh Vilvarchana : In this Archana, one lakh Bilva leaves offered to the Linga of Shiva.
Long Term Poojas Schemes
- Dainik Pooja and Archana Scheme : In this the Rudrabhishekam is performed once a year for 20 years in the name of the devotee.
- Yati Bhiksha : Yati means Sadhu or sage. Yati Bhiksha means, the offerings like food will be provided to the Sadhus residing in the holy town of Varanasi.
- Sarva Pooja : All pooja are performed in one day in the name of devotee.
Yatras at Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple
- Panchatheertha Yatra : The devotee pilgrim should take a bath in all give main Ghats in the sequence of Asi Ghat – Dashashwamedha Ghat, Aadikeshav Ghat, Panchganga Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat and than proceed to visit all the shrines of Kashi.
- Mauni Yatra : This Mauni Yatra should begin with a bath in Manikarnika Ghat followed by the darshan of the various forms of Lord Shiva and Shakti and end with a bath again at Manikarnika Ghat. One condition of the Yatra is that this yatra should be performed in silence.
Festivals celebrated at Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Mahashivaratri : This festival is celebrated on 13th night and 14th day of Maagha (February / March). The Shiva linga is bathed with Ganga Water, applied with Chandan paste and offered Bilva leaves, Bhang, Dhatura, flowers, coconut, fruits and cow milk. Devotees keep fast for the whole day and do Shiva Pooja at home. Taking a holy dip in Ganges on Mahashivaratri is considered sacred.
- Makar Sankranti : On Makar Sankranti, devotees take a dip in Holy Ganges and pray to the Sun God. This day signifies the ascend of the Sun and the beginning of spring and the day is dedicated to a good harvest in the agricultural terms. On Makar Sankranti people of Varanasi (Kashi) enjoy Kite flying, which is an enthralling experience.
- Shravan Maas : The Shravan month (June / July) is considered to be the holy month of Hindu Calendar. Special decoration and poojas are performed for Lord Shiva on every Monday. On the first Monday of Shravan month, Lord Shiva is decorated, on the second, both Shiva and Parvati’s idols are decorated. On the third Monday, Lord Ardhanarishwar and Sri Rudrakshaya are worshipped.
- Dev Deepawali : The festival means “Diwali of Gods”. Dev Diwali is celebrated in the month of Karthik Poornima, ten days after the festival of Diwali. All the steps of Ghats are lit with oil lamps in honour of Holy Ganges. It is believed that Gods descend to the earth to take a dip in Holy Ganges.
- Rangbhari Ekadashi : This festival is celebrated in February / March. As per legend, the consummation of marriage between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati happened on this day. Devotees carry Idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in a Palki from the house of the Mahant of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and take them to the sanctum of the temple and are decorated with Gulaal and rose petals.
Some temples around Kashi Vishwanath Temple
- Kashi Vishalakshi Temple : This sacred Kashi Vishalakshi Temple is just behind the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. This temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths of Sati and its believed that when her body was cut with the Sudaarshana Chakra of Lord Vishnu, her third eye (Aksha) and the earring (Manikarnika) fell at this location and hence the name Visalakshi.
- The Kalbhairav Temple : This Kalbhairav Temple is situated 1km away from Kashi Vishwanath. According to the legend, when Lord Brahma lies about finding the end of the massive pillar of light, Lord Shiva gets angry and assumes the form of Kalbhairav and cut off one of the five heads of Brahma. However, the decapitation made Lord Shiva guilty of the crime and he carried the head of the Brahma and roamed around as a Bhikshatana until his sin was forgiven. The head was released from him after he reached Kashi. He is the guard of Kashi and it is a belief that no one can enter Kashi without the permission of Lord Brahma.
- Markandey Mahadev Temple : This temple of Markandey Mahadev is located at Kaithi, Varanasi which is about 29 km from Kashi Vishwanath Temple. As per the legend, a couple named Mrikandu and Marudvati prayed to Shiva to attain a son. Lord Shiva granted them a boon of a son who was eventually named Markandeya, who was extraordinarily intelligent in his childhood. He was always dedicated to Lord Shiva and master of the Mahamritunjaya Mantra. At the age of 16, Yama came to take him. Markandeya prayed for the defence to Lord Shiva who defeated Yama and granted him Immortality as gift.
- Bharat Mata Mandir : About 4 km from Kashi Vishwanath Temple, this Bharat Mata Temple is located inside the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus. The unique feature is that this Bharat Mata mandir does not have any idol of Gods and Goddesses. The Bharat Mata is worshipped here. There is a map of India to which offerings are made. Babu Shiv Prasad constructed the temple and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.
- Mrityunjay Mahadev Temple : This famous temple is just 1km away from Kashi Vishwanath Temple and it is believed that the Mritunjay Mahadev is the “God who triumphs over death”. It is a belief that the well of the temple contains water with medicinal properties and can cure several ailments.
- Annapoorna Devi Mandir : This temple is dedicated to Annapoorna Devi – an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, located just near to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Its believed that Goddess Annapoorna is responsible for the nourishment of human souls and who worships her with devotion, will never have any food shortages in life.
- Tulsi Manas Mandir : This Tulsi Manas Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama, Lakshman and Sita and believed that the temple is constructed over the place where saint Goswami Tulsidas wrote the epic Ramcharitramanas.
- The Ghat Manikarnika : This Ghat near the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered to be a Shakti Peetha, situated on the banks of Holy Ganges. The Shakti Peethas are the 52 places where parts of the body of Goddess Sati (Adi Parashakti), first wife of Lord Shiva, fell on earth after being decapitated by Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra.
Several other famous temples can also be visited in Varanasi…..
- Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple
- Durga Temple
- The Vyas Temple
- The Birla Temple
- The Tilbhandeshwar Temple
- The Sarnath Temple
Significance of Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Lord Vishwanath of Kashi (Varanasi) is known to be the King of all the 12 Jyotirlinga.
Singnificance of Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is that Linga of the presiding deity Lord Vishwanath is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga that are revered in Hindu mythology. Jytorilinga means – the self manifested and is called Swayambhu. Devotees believe that one time visit to Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is equals to the visit of the rest of the 11 Jyotirlinga and is called the King of all Jyotirlinga.
The Gyan Vaapi well is also known as the well of wisdom and is believed that before Aurangzeb attacked the city, the Jyotirlinga was hidden inside the well. This Gyan Vaapi well can be seen between the mosque and the temple.
Kashi is believed to be the holiest city for Hindus and that anyone who lives here will attain Moksha. It is believed that one who departs from Kashi (Varanasi) will attain spiritual enlightenment and salvation.
According to the scriptures, Kashi city was built by Lord Shiva on his Trident as his residence after marriage with Goddess Parvati. Also, it is believed that first rays of sun fell on Kashi city when the world was created. Hence, it is believed that the Kashi city is most sacred that even if the end of the world (Pralayam) happens, the Kashi will survive.
In Puranas, Kashi city is also mentioned as Aadyavaishnav Bhoomi and Lord Brahma is supposed to have performed ten Ashwamedha Yagnas at Dashashwamedha Ghat – an important place for devotees of Shakti (Goddess Sati) as the city is also home to a Shakti Peeth.
Lord Shiva is protector of Kashi and believed that the Navagraha (Nine Planets) does not influence or affect the people living in Kashi as they abide by the rules of Lord Shiva.
A popular tradition is followed to date is that the water taken from Ganges after visiting Kashi Vishwanath Temple is used for Abhishekam of the Jyotirlinga of Sri Ramanathaswamy in Rameswaram. The sand from Rameshwaram is brought back to Kashi and given as an offering to Lord Vishwanath. Hence, people believe that the pilgrimage of Kashi and Rameswaram will lead to complete Moksha and enlightenment.
Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple is said to be built in 11th century.
According to the available evidences, the history of Kashi Vishwanath Temple dates back to 11th century and was subjected to repeated invasions and destructions. The original structure of the temple was destroyed by Qutab-ud-din-Aibak in 1194 CE but was rebuilt under the reign of Sultan Iltutmish.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple was again attached in 1400s under the reign of either Sikander Lodhi or under Husain Sharqi. Raja Man Singh built it but was boycotted as he allowed the Mughals to marry into his family. However, Todar Mal further re-built the Temple with Akbar’s blessings at the original site in 1585.
Aurangzeb destroyed the Kashi Temple again in 1669 and over the foundations, built Gyanavapi Mosque. Later in 1742 Maratha ruler Malhar Rao Holkar and in 1750 Maharaja of Jaipur planned to demolish the Gyanvapi mosque. They were unsuccessful in doing so due to the objections raised by the Nawabs of Lucknow. The remains of the temple can still be seen in the Gyanvapi mosque premisses.
Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, in 1780, constructed the present Kashi Vishwanath Temple next to the Gyanvapi mosque.
It is believed that Lord Shiva lived here and his mother-in-law was unhappy. To please his consort, Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva requested the demon, Nikumbha to make the suitable place for his family at Kashi. Parvati was so pleased with the residence and offered food to everyone, that is why she is worshipped as Annapoorani or Annapurna. Even Lord Shiva is believed to hold a begging bowl in front of her, seeking food.
It has been demolished by Qutbud-din-Aibak in 1194 AD and than other invaders over the centuries including Mughal emperor, Aurangazeb in 1669, who built a mosque on this site.
It was rebuilt by various rulers including Mughal emperor Akbar’s general Raja ManSingh, and his finance minister Raja Todar Mal.
Structure of Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple (Architecture of Kashi Vishwanath Temple)
Shape of Kashi Vishwanath Temple complex is quadrangular with several small temples and shrines dedicated to Lord Dandapani (Karthikeya), Lord Vinayaka, Kalabhairavar, Avimukteshwar, Lord Vishnu, Virupaksha, Virupaksha Gauri and Lord Shaneeshwara.
There are 3 distinct regions of the temple – the first is a spire over the temple of Lord Vishwanath, the second is a Golden Dome and the third is a spire with a trident and a flag atop it. The Kashi temple has a Sabha Griha that leads to the Garbha Griha where the linga is housed.
Holy River Ganga flows beside the temple increasing the spiritual value of Kashi Temple by manifolds. In Hindu Mythology, Kashi Vishwanath Temple plays an important role, and has been mentioned innumerable times in scriptures like Skanda Purana, Shiva Purana, The Upanishads and in Vedas.