Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttar Pradesh State
Hanumangarhi, Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh
Hanumangarhi is a temple of Lord Hanuman in Ayodhya. More than 70 steps lead to the main Hanuman temple which is one of the most popular temples of Lord Hanuman in North India.
HistoryThis temple was built by the Nawab of Awadh.
AccessThe twin cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad are well connected with Lucknow, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Allahabad.
- Air: The nearest airports are those of Lucknow (135 km) and Varanasi (200 km).
- Road: Ayodhya is 6 km (4 mi) from Faizabad. Ayodhya has good road connectivity with Lucknow (135 km), Varanasi (200 km), Allahabad (165 km) and Gorakhpur (175 km).
- Rail: A good rail network connects Ayodhya directly with Lucknow (three hours) and Varanasi (four hours).
ClimateSummer (March to July) temperatures can range from 35 to 45 degrees Celsius. Winters (November to January) temperatures can range from 6 to 25 degrees Celsius. Rains during monsoon season (July to September).
Hanumangarhi, NainitalThe hill station of Nainital also has famous temple by the name Hanumangarhi, often visited by local saint, Neem Karoli Baba. Located at an altitude 1,951 m (6,401 ft), the temple complex is about 3.5 km (2 mi) from the Tallital (South End) bus stop. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Hanuman, the vanara god of the Ramayana, and he is depicted tearing open his chest to reveal Rama and Sita in his heart. Hanuman Garhi is also known for its spectacular views of the setting sun.
Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh
Ayodhya (Sanskrit: अयोध्या, Urdu: ایودھیا, IAST Ayodhyā), also known as Saket (Sanskrit: साकेत, Urdu: ساکیت) is an ancient city of India, birthplace of the Lord Vishnu Hindu avatar Rama, and setting of the epic Ramayana. It is situated adjacent toFaizabad city at south end in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya used to be the capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom, and has an average elevation of 93 meters (305 feet).
BackgroundAyodhya is located on the right bank of the river Sarayu, 6 km from Faizabad. This town is closely associated with Rama, Eighth incarnation of Vishnu. According to the Ramayana, the city is 9,000 years old, and was founded by Manu, the first man in the Vedas, and law-giver of the Hindus. Other sources hold that it was founded by its namesake, King Ayudh. For centuries, it was the capital for the Surya dynasty, of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. At the time it was known as Kaushaldesa.
Skanda and other puranas list Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India, as it has been the backdrop for much of Hindu scripture. Today it is predominantly a religious destination with its historical significance and sacred temples. The Atharvaveda described Ayodhya as "a city built by Gods and being prosperous as paradise itself."
Its first ruling king was Ikshvaku, of the solar clan Suryavansa and eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu. The sixth king of this line, Prithu, is linguistically the etymology of earth, or `Prithivi’. Mandhatri was a later king of the region, and the 31st king of his descent was Harischandra, known for his truthfulness, or Sathya-sandhata. His lineeage was Surya Vamsa and, in turn known for their honesty as rulers. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna, and mythology holds that his great-grandson Bhagiratha brought the river Ganges to the earth through penance. Later came the great King Raghu, after whom the dynasty was called Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasaratha, of the Kausala dynasty, and father of Rama.
Ayodhya is a city of worship. Several religions have prospered simultaneously as well as at different periods of time, and elements of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can be found in the city. In Jainism, for example, five Tirthankaras were born here, including Adinath, first Tirthankar, Ajitnath, second Tirthankar, Abhinandanath (fourth Tirthankar), Sumatinath, fifth Tirthankar, ] and Anantnath, fourteenth Tirthankar. Ayodhya demonstrates Ganga-Jamuni culture in the Hanumangarhi temple, built by Nawab of Awadh. Sundar Bhavan, a temple of Rama, had a devoted caretaker, Munne Mian, who looked after it for fifty years until his death in 2004. According to Jain Agams, it is the second eternal city after Shikharji, and will never vanish or disappear during the changing epochs.
EtymologyKing Ayudh is mentioned in Hindu scriptures as a forefather of Lord Rama. His name comes from the Sanskrit root yudh, meaning "fight" or "wage war," and it translates to either "not to be fought" or, less literally, "unconquerable." During the time of Gautama Buddha, the city was called Ayojjhā in Pali, and Ayodhyā in Sanskrit, although this city in scripture has also been said to be on the River Ganges.
In the first centuries of the common era, it was called Saketa. Śāketa or 沙奇 (Pinyin: Shāqí) was conquered by the Kushan/Yuezhi Emperor Kanishka c. 127 CE, who made it administrative center of his eastern territories The name occurs again in Faxian as 沙祗 (Pinyin: Shāzhī) in the early 5th century. It is not clear when the name changed, but by the time of the visit of the Chinese pilgrim monk, Xuanzang, c. 636 CE, it was known as Ayodhya.
Under Mughal rule, it was the seat of the governor of Awadh. During the British Raj the city was known as Ajodhya or Ajodhia, and was part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. It was also the seat of a small 'talukdari' state.
The cities of Ayutthaya, Thailand, and Yogyakarta, Indonesia, are named after Ayodhya.
HistoryAyodhya is one of the most ancient Hindu cities. In the Ramayana, it is described covering an area of 250 km2 (97 sq mi), and was capital of the Hindu kingdom Kaushal. It is on the banks of the Ganges, a river whose waters cleanse all sin, and on the right bank of Ghagra. The Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavansha) was its ruling dynasty. The city was the in court of the great Dasharatha, 63rd monarch of the Solar line, whose son was the avatar Rama. In the Atharvaveda, Ayodhya was described as 'made by Gods and prosperous as Heaven itself'.
Valmiki began writing the Ramayana in Ayodhya. Its opening chapters recount the magnificence of the city, the glories of its monarch and the virtues, wealth and loyalty of its people. Kamban or Tulsidas retold a common version of the Ramayana called the Ramacharitamanasa in which he also praised the city. Several Tamil Alvars mention the city. It is the birthplace of Jadabharata, the first Chakravartin, Bahubali, Brahmi, Sundari, Padaliptasurisvarji, Harishchandra and Achalbharata.
Ayodhya has historical significance for the Jain community as well. It is the birthplace of two important tirthankaras two-thousand years ago. The Jain agamas also record the visit of Mahavira, the last tirthankara of Jainism. The city is also the birthplace of five Tirthankaras, including the first, Rishabha, and the ninth Ganadhara of Mahavira.
The city is also important in the heritage of Buddhism, with several Buddhist temples, monuments and centers of learning established here during the Mauryan Empire and Gupta Dynasty. Ayodhya reached its peak of trade during the Gupta dynasty ]
It was also a center of trade in 600 BCE Historians correlate the city to Saketa, a center of Buddhism from the 5th century BCE till the 5th century CE. Buddha is believed to have visited the city more than once, although there is no record of this in his writing. Faxian, the Chinese monk, wrote of several Buddhist monasteries here
Swaminarayan, founder of the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism lived in Ayodhya as a child, and began his seven-year journey across India as a 'Neelkanth' from the city.
Ayodhya is a 'Mokshdayani Puris,' or 'land of spiritual bliss and liberation from karma bandhan,' along with Varanasi, and Dwarka. Hindu scripture such as the Ramcharitmanas, Vishnu Purana and Shrimad Bhagvat Mahapuran recommend pilgrimage to the city, writing that it increases the Punya, or virtue, and decreases Paap, or wrongdoing.
Among seven holy cities of IndiaAyodhya is one of seven holy places for Hindus in India, with Varanasi the most sacrosanct:
Ayodhyā Mathurā Māyā Kāsi Kāñchī Avantikā I
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II
Purī Dvārāvatī chaiva saptaitā moksadāyikāh II
—Garuḍa Purāṇa I XVI .14A Kṣetra is a sacred ground where Moksha can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as sources of Moksha: Ayodhya, Mathura, Māyā (Haridwar), Kāsi (Varanasi), Kāñchī, Avantikā (Ujjain), and Dvārāvatī (Dvārakā).
Kim clan and Princess Heo Hwang-okThe Atharva Veda called Ayodhya "a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself".
According to the 11th-century Korean chronicle the Samguk Yusa, the wife of King Suro of the ancient Korean kingdom of Geumgwan Gaya was a princess who traveled by boat from a faraway land called Ayuta to Korea in 48 CE. It is commonly thought that Ayodhya is the foreign land referred to in the Korean chronicles, but some scholars believe that the foreign land may have been Ayutthaya of Thailand.
However, the local government of Ayodhya and South Korea acknowledged the connection, and held a ceremony to raise a statue of the princess on the banks of the Sarayu River. The adopted Korean name of the princess is Heo Hwang-ok, the first queen of Geumgwan Gaya Dynasty and the ancestor of the Korean Kim family of Kimhae and Heo. Two millennia prior, a princess of Ayodhya had been shipped off as a bride to Suro. They had ten children, of whom nine became Buddhist monks. His descendants now form the 10 million-strong Kim Kimhae clan and Heo Gimhae clan.
In the 7th century CE, Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang), the Chinese monk, recorded many Hindu temples in Ayodhya. In the epic Ramayana, the city of Ayodhya is cited as the birthplace of Lord Sri Rama, a Hindu deity who was worshipped as Lord Vishnu's seventh incarnation. Ayodhya became a famous pilgrimage destination in the 15th century when Ramananda, the Hindu mystic, established a devotional sect of Sri Rama.
The Thai kingdom and city of Ayutthaya, and the Indonesian sultanate of Yogyakarta, are thought to be named after Ayodhya
Ayodhya, like other Indian cities, came under Mughal rule. With Muslim rulers established around the city under Mohammed of Ghor, it lost its strategic and economic importance to Lucknow and Kanpur.
The 16th century witnessed a shift in power with Ayodhya coming under the rule of the Mughal Empire.
Saadat Ali Khan, Nawab of Awadh, bestowed the riyasat of Ayodhya on his loyal Brahmin soldier Dwijdeo Mishra of the Kasyapa gotra, for quelling revenue rebels in Mehendauna in Eastern UP. The Hanumangarhi temple was built by the Nawab of Awadh
Places of InterestHanuman Garhi, a massive four-sided fort with circular bastions at each corner and a temple of Hanuman inside, is the most popular shrine in Ayodhya. Situated in the center of town, it is approachable by a flight of 76 steps. Its legend is that Hanuman lived here in a cave and guarded the Janambhoomi, or Ramkot. The main temple contains the statue of Maa Anjani with Bal Hanuman seated on her lap. The faithful believe wishes are granted with a visit to the shrine. Kanak Bhawan is a temple gifted to Sita by her mother with her marriage to Rama, and only contains statues of Sita with her husband.
Ramkot is the main place of worship in Ayodhya, and the site of the ancient citadel of its namesake, standing on elevated ground in the western city. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, it attracts devotees from all over the world on `Ram Navami’, the day of the birth of Rama. Ram Navami is celebrated with great pomp in the Hindu month of Chaitra, which falls between March and April. Swarg Dwar is believed to be the site of cremation of Rama. Mani Parbat and Sugriv Parbat are ancient earth mounds, the first identified by a stupa built by the emperor Ashoka, and the second is an ancient monastery. Treta ke Thaku is a temple standing at the site of the Ashvamedha Yajnya of Rama. Three centuries prior, the Raja of Kulu built a new temple here, which was improved by Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1784, the same time the adjacent Ghats were built. The initial idols in black sandstone were recovered from Sarayu and placed in the new temple, which was known as Kaleram-ka-Mandir. Chhoti Devkali Mandir is the temple of goddess Ishani, or Durga, Kuldevi of Sita.
Nageshwarnath TempleThe temple of Nageshwarnath was established by Kush, son of Rama. Legend has it that Kush lost his armlet while bathing in the Sarayu, and it was retrieved by a Nag-Kanya who fell in love with him. As she was a devotee of Shiva, Kush built her this temple. It was the only temple to survive when Ayodhya was abandoned until the time of Vikramaditya. While the rest of city was in ruin and covered by dense forest, this temple allowed Vikramaditya to recognize the city. The festival of Shivratri is celebrated here with great splendor.
Other sites of interest
- Angad Tila
- Shri Rama Janaki Birla Temple
- Tulsi Smarak Bhawan
- Ram ki Paidi
- Kaleramji ka Mandir
- Datuvan Kund
- Janki Mahal
- Gurudwara Brahma Kund
- Rishabhadeo Jain Temple
- Brahma Kund
- Amawan Temple
- Tulsi Chaura
- Laxman Quila
- Ram Katha Museum
- Valmiki Ramayan Bhawan
- Mandir Sunder Sadan (in front of controversial site)
AccessibilityTo reach Ayodhya, the nearest airports are Faizabad, 5 km away, Amausi in Lucknow-134 km away, Allahabad, 166 km away. The city is situated on the broad gauge Northern Railway line on Mughal Sarai on the Lucknow main route with Ayodhya and Faizabad Railway Stations. The city is connected by road to several major cities and towns, including Lucknow (134 km), Gorakhpur (132 km), Jhansi (441 km), Allahabad (166 km), Sravasti (109 km), Varanasi (209 km) and Gonda (51 km).
Ram JanmabhoomiRam Janmabhoomi (Hindi/Devanagiri: राम जन्मभूमि) is believed by many Hindus to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. "Lord Rama" is referred as the god and described as an Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu according to the Hindu theology and tradition. The exact location of Lord Rama's birth as stated in holy Ramayana is on the banks of Sarayu river in the city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pardesh. In 1528 Babur built a mosque From 1528 to 1853 (the year of the first riot regarding the birthplace), the Babri Mosque became a place of worship for Muslims. From 1853 to 1949, separate areas were earmarked for both Hindus and Muslims to worship and in 1949, Idols were placed inside the disputed structure. The site of the Babri Mosque which was surrounded on all sides by Mata Sita Rasoi (Lord Rama's wife Sita Devi's Kitchen - actually a Temple and other Temples of Hanuman) and the disputed structure sharing walls with Sita and Hanuman Mandir was destroyed when a political rally developed into a riot involving 150,000 people. This happened due to the movement that was launched in 1984 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP party) to reclaim the site for Hindus who want to erect a temple dedicated to the infant Rama (Ramlalla), at this spot.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, VaranasiSankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is one of the sacred temples of Hindu god Hanuman in the city of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It is situated by the Assi river, on the way to the Durga and New Vishwanath temples within the Banaras Hindu University campus. Sankat Mochan in Hindi means reliever from troubles, The current temple structure was built in early 1900s by the educationist and freedom fighter, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder Banaras Hindu University Hanuman Jayanti, the birthday of Hanuman, is celebrated in fanfare, during which a special shobha yatra, a procession starting from Durgakund adjacent to the historic Durga temple to Sankat Mochan, is carried out
In the temple, offerings to Lord Hanuman (called Prasad) are sold like the special sweet "besan ke ladoo", which the devotees relish; and the idol is also decked with a pleasant marigold flower garland as well. This temple has the unique distinction of having Lord Hanuman facing his Lord, Rama, whom he worshiped with steadfast and selfless devotion.
HistoryIt is believed that temple has been built on the very spot where Tulsidas had a vision of Hanuman. Sankat Mochan Temple was founded by Tulsidas who was the author of the Ramacharitamanasa, which is the Hindi version of the Hindu epic Ramayana originally written by Valmiki. Tradition promises that regular visitors to the temple will gain special favor of Hanuman. Every Tuesday and Saturday thousands of people queue up in front of temple to offer prayers to Lord Hanuman. According to Vedic Astrology, Hanuman saves human beings from the anger of the planet Shani (Saturn), and people having an ill-placed Saturn in their horoscopes especially visit this temple for astrological remedies. This is supposed to be the most effective way for appeasing Shani. While it is suggested that Hanuman did not hesitate in engulfing in his mouth the sun, the lord of all planets, humbling all the gods and angel, making them worship him for Sun's release. Some astrologers believe that worshiping Hanuman can neutralize the ill-effect of Mangal (Mars) and practically any planet that has ill effect on human life.
Main article: 2006 Varanasi bombingsOn 7 March 2006, one of the three explosions hit the temple while the aarti was in progress in which numerous worshippers and wedding attendees participated. The crowd helped each other in rescue operation after the explosion. The next day a large number of devotees resumed their worship as usual
Temple todayThe temple still continues to be attended by thousands of Rama and Hanuman devotees who chant Hanuman Chalisa and Sundarkand (also provided in the form of a booklet in the temple for free). After the terrorist incident of 2007, a permanent police post was set up inside the temple.
Sankat Mochan temple is near the Banaras Hindu University.
Sankat Mochan Foundation
Main article: Sankat Mochan FoundationThe Sankat Mochan Foundation (SMF) was established in 1982 by Veer Bhadra Mishra, the Mahant (High priest) of the temple, and has been working for cleaning and protecting the Ganges river. Its projects are funded in part by aid from the U. S. and Swedish governments. Mishra was formerly former Head of the Civil Engineering Department at the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi [IIT(BHU)] and was awarded United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the "Global 500 Roll of Honour" in 1992, and later the TIME magazine's "Hero of the Planet" award in 1999.
The foundation has been working with Australia-based environmental group, Oz Greene, under a programme called “Swatcha Ganga Abhiyan” for over 25 years. It celebrated its silver jubilee on 3–4 November 2007, with two-day event which concluded at the Tulsi Ghat, on the Ganges.
Sankat Mochan Sangeet SamarohEach year in the month of April, the temple organizes a classic music and dance concert festival titled, "Sankat Mochan Sangeet Samaroh", in which musicians and performers from all over India take part. The first festival was organized 88 years ago, and since then it was attract numerous stalwarts of Indian classical music and dance world, including Odissi guru, Kelucharan Mahapatra, who was associated since its early days. In fact he was instrumental in starting women's participation in the festival with Sanjukta Panigrahi, Swapna Sundari and Kankana Banerjee.
Vindhyachal, Uttar Pradesh
Vindhyachal is a town in Mirzapur District of Uttar Pradesh state in northern India. The city is a Hindu pilgrimage site having the temple of Vindhyavasini, where according to mythology a part of Sati (an Avatar of Durga) Born in Nand Yadav Family as sister of Lord Krishna. The river Ganges flows through this city. The Indian Standard Time (IST) line passes through the Vindhyachal railway station.
The TempleVindhyachal 70 km. (one and a half hour drive) from Varanasi, is a renowned religious city dedicated to Goddess Vindhyavasini. Mythologically goddess Vindhyavasini is believed to be the instant bestower of bendiction. Vindhyavasini Devi Temple is situated 8 km from Mirzapur, on the banks of the holy river Ganges. It is one of the most revered Shaktipeeths of the presiding deity, Vindhyavasini Devi. The temple is visited by large number of people daily. Big congregations are held during Navratras in Chaitra (April) and Ashwin (October) months. Kajali competitions are held in the month of Jyestha (June). The temple is situated just 2 km from the Kali Khoh.
Trikona ParikramaThere are several temples of other deities in the vicinity, the most famous ones being Ashtabhuja Devi Temple and kalikhoh Temple. There is parikrama (circumambulation) constitute whih:
1. Maa Vindhyavasini Devi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Maha Lakshmi
2. Kali khoh temple, in form of ancient cave dedicated to Goddess Maha Kali (2 km from Vindhyavasini temple)
3. Ashtabhuja temple, dedicated to Goddess Maha Saraswati (on a hillock, 3 km from Vindhyavasini temple)
Important Places in Trikona Parikrama
1. Kankali Devi temple, dedicated to very specific form of Maa Kali, as described in 11th chapter of Durgasaptashati (Markandeya Puran)
2. Shivashiv Samooh Awadhoot Ashram,a center point (Bindu) of naturally formed Shri Chakra, Near Gerua Talab. The place where, Maharishi Lalbhatta Maharaj attained Nirvikalpa samadhi. Awadhoot Kripanandnath continued this lineage
The CityVindhyachal, a Shakti Peeth, is a center of pilgrimage in Mirzapur District, Uttar Pradesh. The Vindhyavasini Devi temple located here is a major draw and is thronged by hundreds of devotees during the Navratris of Chaitra and Ashwin months to invoke the blessings of the Goddess.
Other sacred places in the town are Ashtbhuja temple, Sita Kund, Kali Khoh, Budeh Nath temple, Narad Ghat, Gerua talab, Motiya talab, Lal Bhairav and Kal Bhairav temples, Ekdant Ganesh, Sapta Sarovar, Sakshi Gopal temple, Goraksha-kund, Matsyendra kund, Tarkeshwar Nath temple, Kankali Devi temple, Shivashiv Samooh Awadhoot Ashram and Bhairav kund. Mirzapur is the closest railhead. Vindhyachal has regular bus services to the nearby towns. The nearest railway station is at Mirzapur. Regular bus services connect Vindhyachal to the nearby towns.
2. Kalikoh Temple.
3. Ashtabhuja Devi Temple.
4. Ramgaya Ghat and Taradevi Temple.
5. Sita Kund.
VindhyavasiniVindhyavasini is name of a benevolent aspect of Devi Amba or Durga. Her temple is located at Vindhyachal, 8 km away from Mirzapur on the banks of river Ganges, in Uttar Pradesh.
The goddess gets her name from Vindhya Range and the name Vindhyavasini, literally means, she who resides in Vindhya. As it is believed that the Shaktipeeths were created on earth, where the body parts of Sati fell. But Vindhayachal is the place and a Shaktipeeth, where the Devi had chosen to reside after her birth. At the time of the birth of Krishna as 8th Child of Devaki-Vasudeva, Maha-Yogini Mahamaya has taken birth at same time at Nanda-Yashoda and as per the instruction from God Vishnu, Vasudev had replaced Krishna with this girl child of Yashoda. When Kansa Tried to kill this girl child she escaped from the hand of Kansa and turned into Devi form and informed him that Oh!! You fool!! The one who will kill you is already born and safe and vanished from the prison of Mathura. Thereafter, she choose Vindhyachal mountains to reside, where her temple is located at present.
The temple is one of the most revered Shakti Peethas of India. The Vindhyavasini Devi is also known popularly by name of Kajala devi. Goddess Kali is adorned in the form of Vindhyavasini Devi.
The huge number of crowds visit the temple, especially during Navaratri in Hindu months of Chaitra and Ashwin. In month of Jyeshtha, the Kajali competition, a folk genre are held here.
There is a temple of Mahasaraswati named Ashtbhuja Temple, 3 km away on a hillock and a temple of goddess Kali in cave called Kali khoh temple. The pilgrims prefer to visit these three temples, which is a part of rite called Trilokan Parikrama.[
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, VaranasiKashi Vishwanath Temple (Hindi: काशी विश्वनाथ मंदिर) is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located in Varanasi, the holiest existing place of Hindus, where at least once in life a Hindu is expected to do pilgrimage, and if possible, also pour the remains of cremated ancestors on the River Ganges. It is in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, which claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The temple has been referred to in Hindu theology for a very long time and as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. The Gyanvapi Mosque, which is adjacent to the temple, is the original site of the temple. The current structure was built by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780. Since 1983, the temple has been managed by the government of Uttar Pradesh. During the religious occasion of Shivratri, Kashi Naresh (King of Kashi) is the chief officiating priest and no other person or priest is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. It is only after he performs his religious functions that others are allowed to enter.
The temple structureThe temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, located in a small lane called the Vishwanatha Galli, near the river. The linga of the main deity at the shrine is 60 cm tall and 90 cm in circumference housed in a silver altar. There are small temples for Kaalbhairav, Dhandapani, Avimukteshwara, Vishnu, Vinayaka, Sanishwara, Virupaksha and Virupaksh Gauri in the complex. There is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi (the wisdom well) and it is believed that the Jytorlinga was hidden in the well to protect it at the time of invasion. It is said that the main priest of the temple jumped in the well with the Shiv Ling in order to protect the Jyotirlinga from invaders.
The Kashi Vishwanath temple receives around 3000 visitors every day. On certain occasions the numbers reach 100,000.
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 and Gurunanak have visited the 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 water samples of the Ganges to perform prayer at the temple and bring back sand from near that temple. Due to the immense popularity and holiness of Kashi Vishwanath temple, hundreds of temples across the nation have been built in the same architectural style. Many legends record that the true devotee achieves freedom from death and saṃsāra by the worship of Shiva, Shiva's devotees on death being directly taken to his abode on Mount Kailash by his messengers and not to Yama. The superiority of Shiva and his victory over his own nature—Shiva is himself identified with death—is also stated. There is a popular belief that Shiva himself blows the mantra of salvation into the ears of people who choose to end their lives at the Vishwanath temple.
A Shiva temple has been mentioned in the Puranas including the Kashi Khanda (section) of Skanda Purana. In 490 AD, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple was built. In 11th century AD, Hari Chandra constructed a temple. Muhammad Ghori destroyed it along with other temples of Varanasi during his raid in 1194. Reconstruction of the temple started soon after. This was demolished by Qutb-ud-din Aibak. ] After Aibak's death the temple was again rebuilt by many Hindu emperors. In 1351 it was destroyed again by Firuz Shah Tughlaq. ] The temple was rebuilt in 1585 by Todar Mal, the revenue minister of Akbar's court. ] Aurangzeb ordered its demolition in 1669 and constructed Gyanvapi Mosque, which still exists alongside the temple. Traces of the old temple can be seen behind the mosque. It is said that the Shiv-Linga jumped into the well and the original Shiv-linga now resides there. The current temple was built by Ahilya Bai Holkar, the Hindu Maratha queen of Malwa kingdom, in 1780. ] Many noble families from various ancestral kingdoms of India and their prior establishments make generous contributions for the operations of the temple.
Other Temples in Varanasi
DurgaKunda -This temple is dedicated to mother Durgaji, very famous temple, mainly by foreigners in Varanasi. There is most scientifically built Kunda (pond) which is interconnected to river Gangaji through internal drainage systems. (Varanasi)
KaalBhairava Temple- there are about 7-8 Bhairava temples dedicated to the different Bhairavas in Varanasi.
Kardameshwar Mahadeva Temple- This temple is also located about 5–6 km from Lanka BHU gate on the outerskirt of the city, this also is a very old temple, a very beautiful pond is located along the temple. (Varanasi)
Kedareshwar Mahadeva Temple- A very famous Temple located at Gangaji river bank in Varanasi, attracts many tourists and pilgrims from all over world.
Mahakaal Temple- harishchandra Ghaat- where King harsishchandra was working as the watchman at the Smashaan ghat, this temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. (Varanasi)
Mahakaal Temple – It is a unique temple of Lord Shiva located at the Manikarnica Ghaat- where the gem of Lord Shiva's earring fell of during the Taandava. (Varanasi)
Markande Baba ka Mandir (Shiv Temple)-Tiyara This is an old temple in a small village of Tiyara in Uttar Pradesh
Saarangaeshwar Mahadev- Saarnaath- The sity Saaranaath is based on the name of this temple located in Saarnanath. (Varanasi)
Shoolatankeshwar Mahadev -This temple is located about 10 km south from the Lanka BHU gate according to the Svivapurana Lord Shiva had thrown his Trishool ( to turn the direction of the Gangaji when she was likely to touch the city) to protect the city from the flood.
There 9 other temples located at the different places in city dedicated to mother Durgaji, pilgrms visit each day to the each temple. (Varanasi).
Tilbhaandeshwa Shiva Temple, gauriganja, Varanasi
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )