Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Temples of Varanasi


“The Ganges itself and every individual drop of water in it are temples. Religion, then, is the business of Benares, just as gold-production is the business of Johannesburg. …Yes the city of Benares is in effect just a big church, a religious hive, whose every cell is a temple, a shrine or a mosque, and whose every conceivable earthly and heavenly good is procurable under one roof, so to speak - a sort of Army and Navy Stores, theologically stocked.” -Mark Twain


Kashi is rightly known as the ‘City of Temples’. Every temple has its own story, importance and legacy. (The most important being the Kashi Vishwanath Temple which I have already described in the previous post.) It is impossible to visit and describe each one of them. In addition to the Kashi Vishwanath JyotirLing, I visited the following temples and am describing them below.

Annapurna Temple

    After taking the blessings of Lord Shiva, we proceeded towards the Annapurna Temple, located just besides the main temple area of the Kashi Vishwanath temple. Goddess Annapurna Bhavani- a generous form of Shakti, is looked upon as the provider of food and the sustainer of prosperity. The temple we visited, we were told, was a replica of the original temple - the gates of which open only during the Hindu festival of Diwali every year. The idol of Annapurna Bhavani was made in black stone with the face covered in silver (unlike the original idol which is made in solid gold), holding a cooking pot and was draped in a beautiful sari.

Dhundiraj Ganpati Temple

Located near one of the entrances to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Ganesha-The son of Lord Shiva. It is a very small temple but is one of the most important ones in Kashi. Ask anyone in the gullies and you will definitely find it.

Kaal Bhairav Temple

Wading through small and serpentine lanes, one can reach here located in Vishweshwar Ganj near Malviya Market. Lord Kaal Bhairav, a fierce incarnation of Lord Shiva, is believed to be the ‘Kotwal (Police Chief) Of Varanasi’. Kaal means both Death and Fate, in addition to meaning Black. He is the one who has assumed the duties of the God of Death in Kashi. Even Death, it is said, is afraid of Kaal Bhairav.

[ Kaal Bhairav Temple ]

    I saw that the entrance was guarded by the vehicle of Kaal Bhairav, a Dog. Kaal Bhairav’s image is said to be pot-bellied, seated upon a dog, holding a trident but since it is hidden behind a cloth drapery, only the silver face, garlanded with flowers, was visible through the doorway of inner sanctum.
  
Durga Temple

Barely a five minute walk from either Assi Ghat or the ISKCON Temple is situated the Durga Kund (pond) besides which is the beautiful Durga temple also known as the ‘Monkey temple’ because of the presence of large number of monkeys although I didn’t spot any.

[ Durga Kund ]

 The presiding deity of the temple is Kushmanda Devi known as Durga, the consort of Lord Shiva. Built in the eighteenth century, it is said that the image of Goddess Durga was never established by human hands, but is self-manifested and appeared here on its own accord. Non-Hindus can enter the courtyard of the Durga temple but not the inner sanctum. During the Hindu festival Navratri, a large number of pilgrims throng the place.

[ Durga Temple stained in red colour ]

Bal Hanuman Temple

 [ Bal Hanuman Temple ]

Just opposite the Tulsi Manas Temple is this small yet ancient temple which we visited. It is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and Venkateshwar Tirupati Balaji.

Tridev Temple

Stones throw from Tulsi Manas Temple is this newly built temple dedicated to Salasar Hanuman, Rani Sati Dadi and Khatu Shyam – all these deities have their distinct temples at Salasar, Jhunjhunu and Khatu cities respectively in Rajasthan.

[ Tridev Temple Entrance ]

 Photography is allowed inside the temple. The temple comes alive in the evenings when the lighting takes its effect and is definitely worth a visit at that time.

[ Tridev Temple in The Evening Lights ]

Sankat Mochan Temple

Another 2-3 minutes walk from the Tridev temple is this sacred Sankat Mochan temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and founded by seer Tulsidas. The word ‘Sankat Mochan’ means one who helps in removing sufferings and pain. It is said that people who pray here get their wishes fulfilled. We offered ‘laddoos’ to Lord Hanuman and recited the Hanuman Chalisa. On Thursdays and Saturdays there is a large queue for the darshan.  Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the temple and need to be deposited outside in the locker service provided by the temple.

New Vishwanath Temple

[ New Vishwanath Temple in the BHU ]
 
    Located in the sprawling campus of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), it is also called the Birla temple as the famous industrialist family of India, the Birlas, constructed it. The New Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is a replica of the original Kashi Vishwanath temple. The temple is built in white marble, and was planned by Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of the BHU. It is open to people from all castes and religions.

24 comments:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog :-)

    Your blog is unique
    so many temple photo's !!
    India is beautiful...
    Thanks for sharing us the beauty from your country!

    greetings Anya :-)

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  2. Great blog you have here...very informative and great pictures too

    since your posts are quite long...you could edit (in the center on layout page)such that each page has only one post and then the pictures could be bigger...would look better

    You could check the box next to "Make Blogger in Draft my default dashboard"... to get a better template

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  3. Enjoyed reading the post. Wonderful shots too.

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  4. A wonderful journey. Thanks for all of this.

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  5. Lovely pics and a very nice write up!

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  6. Beautiful pictures and a lovely description of unique temples.
    Thank you for stopping by my place and for your kind words.;)
    xo
    Zuzana

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  7. Hi there..I like the soft pastels in the watery reflections. With all of the customary temples in view, how do you feel about them personally as far as your own experience? Well, hope you have a wonderful day, Regina-

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  8. Definitely enough info for several posts!

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  9. Very informative post with wonderful images of the temples. "Tridev Temple in The Evening Lights" is amazing!

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  10. You have great fantastic images of the temples. Thanks for sharing about them. I enjoyed reading this post.

    Thanks for the visit

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  11. very interesting post and place. thanks for shared

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  12. wow so many beautiful temples & thanks for sharing a lovely post ...

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  13. Great post and very beautiful temples.

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  14. Very interesting post. The modern temple is really beautiful.

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  15. @Nalini Hebbar
    Thanks a lot for taking ur time out and for your suggestions. I thought about having one post per page but then for the moment I decided to have all my latest yatra's posts on one page since my blog is relatively new.
    As for the template I will definately look into it once I am through with my Varanasi posts. Thanks a lot once again. Do keep visiting.
    @Regina
    Thank you for ur comments. I love to visit temples and visiting them is always a wonderful experience since I get to learn about so many different cultures and customs.

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  16. An in depth study of the Temples of Varanasi. I have toured India and visited Varanasi plus some of the temples but it was about 25 years ago. An amazing experience it was too.

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  17. Beautiful lighting in Tridev temple..great post again Arti !

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  18. Treasure throve of information and wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing! :)

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  19. just wanted to say u have a stellar blog!!! lovely!

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  20. Such beauty. The pictures are amazing. You've made me want to visit.

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  21. What totally amazing photos! Thanks for sharing places I will never get to see in person!

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  22. Arti
    Nice to read your post and I also want to visit this pilgrim centre.

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  23. Beautiful Blog
    Visit My Blog::
    Indian Temples Photos
    http://indiantemplesphotos.blogspot.com/

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  24. Your blog is full of info thumbs up :) , i will fly to varanasi next month to continued my spiritual journey..

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Delighted u stopped by... Your suggestions, feedback are really appreciated. Thanks a lot! Hope you visit again!

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