A large crowd, continuous chanting of mantras and ringing of bells make Kashi Vishwanath a not to miss place for pilgrims in Varanasi. Located in the downtown of the city near Dashashwamedh Ghat, Kashi Vishwanath Temple is undoubtedly the most renowned Hindu sacred site in Varanasi. It was constructed in the 18th century by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. Sacred to Lord Shiva, this temple in Varanasi is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. In the name Kashi Vishwanath, the term Kashi stands for another name of Varanasi. However, the temple is also entitled as the Golden Temple. The names derive from the spire of the shrine which is embellished with 800 kg of gold. Over the past centuries, the architecture of this popular tourist site in Varanasi has undergone numerous additions and renovations. The temple has also its mention in ancient Hindu text - Skanda Purana. Within the complex of Kashi Vishwanath Temple lies various small shrines that are also worth a visit for devotees. Besides, the 2.1 meters high idol of Nandi (Lord Shiva’s bull). The sanctity of this place gets heightened during the time of aarti.
The exact history of this must-visit tourist attraction in Varanasi is untraceable. However, it has its mention in various ancient Hindu texts like Skanda Purana and Kashi Khanda. Throughout the years, the temple has witnessed numerous built and rebuilt phases. The original construction was destroyed after defeating the Raja of Kannauj in 1193 CE by the army of Qutb-ud-din Aibak. Later, the shrine was reconstructed by a Gujarati Merchant somewhere between 1211 to 1266 CE. However, the temple was again demolished during the ruling period of either Hussain Shah Sharqi or Sikandar Lodhi. Subsequently, the temple was destroyed and rebuilt by several other kings. Finally, in the year 1780, the foundation of the present temple laid by Ahilyabai Holkar. Several additions in the construction of the temple like low-roof colonade, installation of Nandi bull, the boundary of Gyanvapi well, were done in the later year by various royal personalities.
The legends associated with this highly revered Hindu shrine in Varanasi is quite interesting. As per the Skanda Purana, once Lord Vishnu and Brahma has a quarrel regarding the supremacy of creation. In order to test them, Lord Shiva perforate three words as an endless pillar of light, which is renowned as Jyotirlinga. He asked them to find the end point of the light. For that, both Lord Vishnu and Brahma went on to opposite directions, downwards and upwards, respectively. On returning, Brahma lied that he found the end point of the light, whereas, Vishnu accepted his defeat. Seeing that, Lord Shiva manifested as the second pillar of light in front of them and cursed Brahma that he would be not be worshipped in any festivity. Subsequently, he also gave a blessing to Vishnu to get worshipped till the end of eternity. In this entire legend, Jyotirlinga is the fiery column light out of which Lord Shiva appeared. The site where the Lord manifested today marks the presence of Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
Being one of the top places of tourist interest in Varanasi, Kashi Vishwanath Temple remains accessible on all days a week. Tourists can perform the pilgrimage of the temple on any day from 4:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Besides, the aarti timings are:
In the near proximity to Kashi Vishwanath Temple, there are numerous other places to visit that are also explored by tourists.