A Mix of Mythology and Culture

    21-May-2021
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Many legends are wrapped around the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Millions of Hindu devotees yearn to go to Kashi and die there to attain Mukti. Devotees from across the world experience the Aarti and Mahashivaratri festivities on the banks of the Ganges. Due to the existence of this temple, the entire Kashinagari has got the appearance of a temple
 -Dr Ujwala Chakradeo
 

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Varanasi is also known as Banaras. Kashi is its historical name. On the banks of holy river Ganga this is one of the most sacred, historical and spiritual places of India. The village of Kashi is considered to be the heart of Indian Hinduism and the temple of Kashi Vishwanath here is the beating heart of that heart. The first of the twelve Jyotirlingas is in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
 
Vishwanath is the god of the whole world, lord of the universe. This Jyotirlinga is self-emerged and has been in this place for many years. No one has any idea how many years ago this temple and this Swayambhu Linga were established. This temple has been here since ages, mention of this temple is in the mythological stories. During Mughal invasions this temple was demolished and a mosque was built here. In 1742, Maratha king Malhar Rao Holkar wanted to demolish the mosque and rebuild the temple of Vishweshwar there. But he did not succeed. Later in 1777, his daughter-in-law Ahilyabai Holkar completed the construction of Kashi Vishwanath temple near the mosque. In 1835, Maharaja Ranjit Singh donated a ton of gold to the temple for the summit. Even today the pinnacle of the temple is made of gold and hence this temple is also called the Golden Temple. Many legends are wrapped around this temple. There are many Hindu devotees who desire to go to Kashi and die there to attain Mukti. Many festivals are celebrated in the temple. Devotees and tourists from all over the world come to see and experience the Aarti and Mahashivaratri festivities on the banks of the Ganges. Due to the existence of this temple, the entire Kashinagari has got the appearance of a temple.
 
There is a painting of the mosque and the remains of the old temple adjacent to it, drawn by James Princep in 1834. Similarly, the plan of the temple drawn by him is also available for the scholars. The main temple is square, and many temples have been built around it in different periods. The temple has a large mandap and from there one can enter the garbhagriha. Shivling in garbhagriha is made of black stone.
 
The temple and the city of Varanasi was renovated in 2016 under the Central Government's ‘Hriday’ Scheme.
 
(The columnist is Principal of SMM College of Architecture, Nagpur and specialises in Bharatiya Architectural Heritage)