Kashi Vishwanath ranks as the most visited of the 12 Jyotirlingas known
to be in existence. Situated on the western bank of the Ganges River, the temple is regarded as one of the most revered and popular Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The city of Varanasi appears to have grown around the temple. The main deity of Kashi Vishwanath Temple is Lord Shiva, also known as Vishwanatha or Vishweshwarar meaning 'the ruler of the universe'.
By virtue of being one the most sacred and revered of temples according to Hindu religion the temple witnesses around 3,000 footfalls regularly- a number which shoots up to over a lakh on holy occasions. Mention of the temple is found in several Holy Scriptures.
The temple’s facade is adorned with intricate carvings. Inside the precincts is situated the Jnana Vapi or wisdom well. Several other small temples such as Kaalbhairav, Vishnu, Virupaksh Gauri, Vinayaka and Avimukteshwara are also situated within the temple compound.
Many great Hindu saints such as Adi Sankaracharya, Goswami Tulsidas, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, Gurunanak to name only a few had come to the Varanasi to bathe in the Ganges and also to worship the Jyotirlinga. The devout believe that moksha from the ‘cycle of birth’ can be attained by bathing in the holy river here.
The existence of the temple is found in the Kashi Khanda of Skanda Purana and it is believed that the same was constructed by Hari Chandra in the 11th century. Over time the temple has been destroyed on multiple occasions and has been through many reconstructions. Maratha queen Ahilya Bai Holkar is stated to be the one who has constructed the current temple we see today. The Naubatkhana in front of the temple was constructed by Mohammed Ibrahim Khan in 1785. The temple’s two domes were covered in gold by Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1839 while the third dome was plated by the Ministry of Cultures and Religious affairs of Uttar Pradesh Government much later.
Sarnath - A Quest Within - Buddham Sharnam Gacchami