Varanasi - Landmarks - Temples

Temples

Among innumerable (about 23,000) temples in Varanasi, most worshiped are: the Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva; the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple; and the Durga Temple known for the band of monkeys that reside in the large trees nearby.

Located on the outskirts of the Ganges, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple – dedicated to Varanasi's presiding deity Shiva (Vishwanath – "Lord of the world") – is an important Hindu temple and one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples. It is believed that a single view of Vishwanath Jyotirlinga is worth more than that of other jyotirlingas. 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 temple, as it exists now, also called Golden Temple, was built in 1780 by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore. The two pinnacles of temple are covered by gold, donated in 1839 by Ranjit Singh, the ruler of the Punjab and the remaining dome is also proposed to be gold plated by the Ministry of cultures & Religious affairs of U.P. Govt. On 28 January 1983, the temple was taken over by the government of Uttar Pradesh and its management was transferred to a trust with then Kashi Naresh, Vibhuti Narayan Singh, as president and an executive committee with a Divisional Commissioner as chairman. Numerous rituals, prayers and aratis are held throughout the day, starting from 2:30 am till 11:00 pm.

The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple is one of the sacred temples of the Hindu god Hanuman situated by the Assi River, on the way to the Durga and New Vishwanath temples within the Banaras Hindu University campus. The present temple structure was built in early 1900s by the educationist and freedom fighter, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of Banaras Hindu University. It is believed that temple has been built at the very spot where the medieval Hindu saint Tulsidas had a vision of Hanuman. Thousands flock to the temple on Tuesdays and Saturdays, weekdays associated with Hanuman. On 7 March 2006, in a terrorist attack one of the three explosions hit the temple while the Aarti was in progress when numerous devotees and people attending a wedding were present and many were injured. However, normal worship was resumed the next day with devotees visiting the temple and reciting hymns of Hanuman Chalisa (authored by Tulidas) and Sundarkand (a booklet of these hymns are provided free of charge in the temple). After the terrorist incident, a permanent police post was set up inside the temple.

There are two temples named "Durga" in Varanasi, Durga Mandir (built about 500 years ago), and Durga Kund (built in the 18th century). Thousands of Hindu devotees visit Durga Kund during Navratri to worship the goddess Durga. The temple, built in Nagara architectural style, has multi-tiered spires and is stained red with ochre, representing the red colour of Durga. The building has a rectangular tank of water called the Durga Kund ("Kund" meaning a pond or pool.). Every year on the occasion of Nag Panchami, the act of depicting the god Vishnu reclining on the serpent Shesha is recreated in the Kund.

While the Annapurna Temple, located close to the Kashi Vishwanath temple, is dedicated Annapurna, the goddess of food, the Sankatha Temple is close to the Sindhia Ghat is dedicated Sankatha, the goddess of remedy. The Sankatha temple has a large sculpture of a lion and a nine temple cluster dedicated to the nine planets.

Kalabhairav Temple, an ancient temple located near the Head Post Office at Visheshar Ganj, is dedicated to Kala-Bhairava, the guardian (Kotwal) of Varanasi. The Mrithyunjay Mahadev Temple, dedicated to Shiva, is situated on the way to Daranagar to Kalbhairav temple. A well near the temple has some religious significance as its water source is believed to be fed several underground streams, and having curative powers.

The New Vishwanath Temple located in the campus of Banaras Hindu University is a modern temple which was planned by Pandit Malviya and built by the Birlas. The Tulsi Manas Temple, nearby the Durga Temple, is a modern temple dedicated to the god Rama. It is built at the place where Tulsidas authored the Ramcharitmanas, which narrates the life of Rama. Many verses from this epic are inscribed on the temple walls.

The Bharat Mata Temple, dedicated to the national personification of India, was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. It has relief maps of India which is carved of marble. Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta and Durga Prasad Khatri, leading numismatists and antiquarians, leading nationalist leaders donated for its construction.

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