Kashi Vishwanath Temple

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Kashi Vishvanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishvanatha or Vishveshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishvanath Temple. The temple has been referred to in Hindu scriptures for a very long time as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. It has been destroyed and re-constructed a number of times in history. The last structure was demolished by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha ruler, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.


  • Aurangzeb cared nothing for art, destroyed its "heathen" monuments with coarse bigotry, and fought, through a reign of half a century, to eradicate from India almost all religions but his own. He issued orders to the provincial governors, and to his other subordinates, to raze to the ground all the temples of either Hindus or Christians, to smash every idol, and to close every Hindu school. In one year ( 1679-80) sixty-six temples were broken to pieces in Amber alone, sixty-three at Chitor, one hundred and twenty-three at Udaipur; and over the site of a Benares temple especially sacred to the Hindus he built, in deliberate insult, a Mohammedan mosque.
  • The Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi is very certainly located on the exact site of the Vishvanath temple, and visibly includes remains of the old temple walls.... E.g.: “One night during the monsoon of 1991, the rain was so heavy that it washed away the wall that was concealing the frontage of the Bijamandal mosque raised by Aurangzeb in 1682” in Vidisha, and “the broken wall exposed so many Hindu idols that the Archaeological Survey of India had no choice but to excavate”, as mentioned by Prafull Goradia: “Heritage hushed up”....
    • Ayodhya: the case against the temple, by Koenraad Elst (2002)
  • The Lord Cherisher of the Faith learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially at Benares, the Brahman misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and that admirers and students both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His Majesty, eager to establish Islam, issued orders to the governors of all the provinces to demolish the schools and temples of the infidels and with the utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these misbelievers.'...'It was reported that, according to the Emperor's command, his officers had demolished the temple of Viswanath at Kashi.'..
    • Maasir-i-Alamgiri, translated into English by Sir Jadu-Nath Sarkar, Calcutta, 1947, pp. 51-60
  • It is a small mosque wholly devoid of magnificence, erected, according to Mussulman practice, upon the ruins of a Hindoo temple. The limited site on which it was built may not have admitted of the usual display of beauty or splendour, or the imperial founder may have considered it more as a monument of triumph than of grandeur — have desired rather that it should express contempt than command admiration, Benares was indeed taken and plundered, and given up to every excess, by Mahomed Gauri in the year 1194; but the mosque in question was constructed by Aurungzebe, who has left behind him many similar proofs of his persecution of the Hindoos. A humane king would have lamented the past injuries of his subjects, a great one would have repaired them, but Aurungzebe, in a more enlightened age, and without the palliation of his predecessor, a barbarian and a conqueror, deliberately augmented the desolation of the city, the object of veneration of a whole people, and treated with derision and dishonour the religious feelings of its most peaceful inhabitants. It struck me as one of the most remarkable instances of the passive character of the Hindoos that they should have suffered the lofty minarets of this mosque to tower over their temples so long, and to be the first objects that meet the eye of the pilgrim on his approach to the far-sought sanctuary of his religion.
    • Travels in India a hundred years ago, with a visit to the United States; by Thomas Twining. (About Aurangzeb's mosque in Benares). Quoted in Jain, Meenakshi (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts.
  • Your visit at the demise of the Muslim rule, O ruler of men! proves to be as soothing as a shade to a sun-stricken man. Your darsana (appearance) here is like ointment to the wound sustained by our heart on our seeing the mosque near the Visvanatha temple.
    • Bharatendu Harishchandra while welcoming the Prince of Wales in 1875. Quoted from Narain, Harsh (1993). The Ayodhya temple-mosque dispute: Focus on Muslim sources. Delhi: Penman Publishers. p. 2. [1]

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