Today is one of the most important and biggest festivals of India – Mahashivratri. This is an auspicious day to celebrate the Lord of the lords, the mightiest of all Gods – Shiva. The day is celebrated amidst much fanfare with utmost bhakti, shraddha and aastha. This day is of great significance as it marks the union of Shiva and Shakti.
The biggest abode of Shiva in Mumbai is Babul Nath temple in South Mumbai where devotees flock since early morning to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. I too celebrated Mahashivratri at home by lighting 11 diyas, dhoop, agarbatti, bel patra, dhatura, flowers and offering of Panchamrut & Jal on Shivlinga in the morning. It was an indeed a divine experience! Felt connected to Lord Shiva!! Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous temples in Varanasi, also known as the Golden temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva.
Today my memories took me to my visit to Varanasi in early 90s for some friend’s marriage. I very reluctantly boarded the train from Lucknow to Varanasi on a chilly winter night in December with my mother in tow. I really did not know what the trip to Varanasi would unfold for me except that I wanted to buy some Benarasi Dupattas and Sarees and a trip to BHU, nothing beyond this…
…but it turned out to be 180 degree reverse experience. I was never a highly religious person, and in early 90s not at all. As marriage was in the night, our host suggested that we visit holiest abode of Lord Shiva Kashi Vishwanath Temple via Vishwanath Galli and then visit Dashawadhmedh Ghat and other Ghats on river Ganges. They told us that Vishwanath Galli is so narrow that no Taxi would enter there and the best option is to walk it over. So our walk began in the morning, and believe me, the walk looked to me just unending, finally we reached temple after walking to nearly an hour. What an experience it turned out to be! There were hardly any devotees in the temple so we could peacefully do Puja with the Pujariji. It was indeed a divine experience. Pujariji said, “Bhole Baba se jo chaho maang lo”. & what did I ask for? Top secret!! Sorry I don’t have photos of that trip.
Kashi Vishwanath should be must visit for every Shiv Bhakt as the Jyotirlinga present in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is considered as the 12th of all the Jyotirlingas. Lord Shiva is the main deity in Hinduism and also known as the Vishwanath or Vishweshwara (means the ruler of the universe). Kashi is the oldest city of the world in history and known as the city of Lord Shiva.
Jyotirlinga in the Kashi Vishwanath temple has an extraordinary and exclusive importance in the religious history of India. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. The Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple.
It attracts devotees from all across the world. The management of the temple was taken under UP Government on 28th January, 1983. The current temple is constructed by Late Maharani Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780. A Naubatkhana (in front of the temple) is constructed by the Collector Mohd. Ibrahim Khan in 1785. The two domes of the temple were covered by the gold (offered by the Punjab Kesari Maharaja Ranjeet Singh) in 1839. And the third dome was gold plated by the Ministry of cultures and Religious affairs of Uttar Pradesh Government.
This makes Varanasi a tourists place because of great religious importance to the Hindus. The gold used to cover the two domes of the temple was donated by the Punjab Kesari, the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who ruled the Punjab. Now, after 28 January 1983, this temple becomes the property of the government of Uttar Pradesh and it is managed by Dr. Vibhuti Narayan Singh, then by the Kashi Naresh.
Opening time of the temple is: 3:00 am
Mangala Aarti : 3 AM- 4 AM (Morning)
Bhog Aarti : 11.15 AM to 12.20 PM (Day)
Sandhya Aarti : 7 PM to 8.15 PM (Evening)
Shringar Aarti : 9 PM to 10.15 PM (Night)
Shayan Aarti : 10.30 PM – 11 PM (Night)
Location of the Temple: Kashi Vishwanath temple is located almost 5 km away from the Varanasi railway station and almost 6 km from the BHU.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple located at the western bank of the holy river Ganges. According to the Shaiva philosophy, it is considered that Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the midpoint of the worship for a long time. There is a Gyanvapi Mosque located adjacent to the temple. During spiritual occasions such as Shivratri, the king of Kashi (Kashi Naresh) comes to the temple. At that time nobody is allowed to enter the temple. Other devotees are allowed to the temple only after Kashi Naresh has completed his worship.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple has most religious importance for the worship in the Hindu religion. Many great Hindu saints (like Adi Sankaracharya, Goswami Tulsidas, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Gurunanak etc) had came to the Varanasi to take bath in the holy water of the Gange and for the Darshan of the Jyotirlinga. It is believed that the one who will take bath (at least once in the lifetime) in the Ganges in the holy city Varanasi will get Moksha. True devotees of the Lord Shiva get freedom from the cycle of the death and birth. After death they directly intermingled into the Mahadev. People beliefs that the one who decided to end their life at the temple, Lord Shiva himself drive a mantra of freedom in his ear.
Vishwanath Gali in Varanasi is the way to Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in the Vishwanath Gali and one who want to go to the temple he can go through the Vishwanath Gali. Vishwanath Gali is very popular gali of the Varanasi and famous for ladies corner, shops for the pooja goods and sweets. Devotees can make an affordable shopping in the Vishwanath Gali after completing the Darshan of Lord Shiva in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. & I did the same…picked up some lovely Benarasi Dupattas & Sarees.
I loved going down memory lane on this auspicious day!
Look forward to visiting Kashi Vishwanath temple next year!
Om Namah Shivay!