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Indian Temples » Vishwanath Temple

About Vishwanath Temple

For at least a thousand years, Vishwanath has been the preeminent Shiva Linga in Varanasi. Vishwanath is also called Vishveshvar. Both names mean "the lord of all".

Despite its fame, today's Vishwanath Temple has none of the magnificence, architectural splendor or antiquity of India's great classical temples in Orissa or South India. It was built as recently as the late eighteenth century under the patronage of Queen Ahalyabai Holkar of Indore. The history of the previous temples that housed the linga of Vishwanath is, in a nutshell, the history of Varanasi over the past thousand years: a tale of repeated destruction and desecration. Today atop the ruins of old Vishwanath Temple, sit two different mosques, one built in the thirteenth century by Razia and one in the seventeenth century by Aurangzeb.

The present Vishwanath Temple is crowded into the interior of this tightly woven city and its architectural features are hidden from proper perspective behind the compound wall. As one approaches Vishwanath, there are flower merchants whose baskets are heaped with garlands of marigolds and jasmine.

Entering through the doorway from Vishwanath lane with their offerings of pushp (flowers), naivedya (sweets) and Gangajal (Ganges water), pilgrims come into a large rectangular courtyard in the center of which stands the temple itself. The Linga of Vishwanath is set into the floor of the temple in a square solid-silver recessed altar. The seat of the linga is also silver and the shaft of the Linga is smooth black stone.

Shiva is worshipped at five principal aratis during the day, from early in the morning until late at night. In the evening shringara arati, the linga is elaborately decked with flowers. At any time of day, however, worshippers will come, chanting "Har Har Bum Bum!" "Har Har Mahadev!" "Jaya Jaya Vishwanath Shambho!" "Om namah Shivaya!" They drench the linga with water, cover it with flowers and bilva leaves and bend down to touch it with their hands.

Although the interior of this important temple is neither very large nor very elaborate, the atmosphere of worship and devotion is powerfully impressive. The sights and sounds and smells of the temple, the shouting and chanting and clanging of bells, even the jostling of the crowds, all contribute to the aura of sanctity.

Not only does Hindu worship make use of the senses in directing them toward the divine, but the Hindu sensibility appreciates the intensity of devotion brought to place by the crowds of worshippers. As one of the priests of Vishwanath temple explained, "Countless people have come here with worshipfull hearts and have centered their devotion here at Vishwanath for hundreds of years. By virtue of that history, this place is special. There is a saying, 'Pilgrims make the tirtha.' So this linga is significant partly because so many people have centered their devotion here for so long."


Varanasi has a climate with much variation in temperatures. It has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are long during April to October, with intervening monsoon rainfalls. Summers temperatures are in the band of 32°C to hottest 46°C. Winters during November to March have freezing cold with minimum goes down to below 5°C. Cold wind waves from the Himalayan region causes the temperature to dip and since the winters have rarely been above 15°C. Rainfall is average during monsoons (July to September). Fog is common in the winters and summers are accompanied by hot dry winds, called loo.

Makara Sankranti during January and Basant Panchami during January-February are attractive festivals. Maha Shivaratri during February-March is a very special religious festival in Varanasi. It is marked with many rituals and festivities all through Varanasi.

Best periods to visit are October to March.


  • Air: Varanasi airport is connected to some cities in India including Delhi, Mumbai and Agra. There are daily domestic flights from Varanasi to these cities. International travelers can get connecting flights from Delhi, which is 810 km away. Delhi is well linked with all major cities in India and many cities abroad.
  • Rail: Varanasi is well connected with all major railway stations in India. There are two railheads nearby, namely Varanasi junction and the Kashi junction. Many express trains connect Varanasi with Delhi and Kolkata.
  • Bus: State owned public bus services connect Varanasi with other holy cities in Uttar Pradesh and neighboring states. Frequent and regular private bus services are available from nearby cities to Varanasi.
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