Varanasi or Benaras is the epicentre of Hindu religious tradition and the very soul of spirituality in the country. Mark Twain recognized the importance of this city when he wrote – “Varanasi is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together”. It comes as no surprise then, that there are number of very important temples in this 2000 year old centre of learning and faith. Here are some of the most important temples that you may want to visit in Varanasi –
- Vishwanath Temple – The Vishwanath Temple of Kasi (Varanasi) is one of the oldest and most sacred Hindu temples in India. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas – important centres of Shiva worship. On an average the number of devotees visiting the temple each day ranges from a few thousands to about 100000 (on special occasions).
- Annapurna Temple – Located quite close to the Vishwanath Temple, is the Annapurna Devi temple where the Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the giver of food and nourishment. Devotees come here in hoards and donate freely. The temple is believed to have been constructed by Peshwa Baji Rao in the 1700s.
- Sankat Mochan Temple – The Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple of Varanasi is said to have been established by the renowned saint Goswami Tulsidas and reconstructed by Pt. Madan Mohan Malviya in the early 20th century. The devotees who throng the temple feed the hundreds of monkeys who live here. The temple was the site of a terrorist attack in March 2006.
- Kaal Bhairav Temple – The Kaal Bhairav temple is one of the oldest temples in Varanasi. Kaal Bhairav is believed to be the guardian of the city and is the protector of devotees in trouble.
- Tulsi Manas Temple – The Birla Tulsi Manas Temple is another famous pilgrimage centre in Varanasi. It was built in 1964 and is dedicated to Lord Rama. Tulsidas’ famous Ramcharitamanas is inscribed on the walls of the temple.
- Durga Kund Temple – The Durga Mata Temple in Durga Kund is another one of the important temples in Varanasi. It is near the Tulsi Manas Mandir. On special days a procession heads out from this temple to the Durga Temple.
- Bharat Mata Temple – This is a unique temple dedicated to Mother India (Bharat Mata). Nowhere else a temple dedicated to the motherland. The temple was built in 1936 in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidhyapith. Gandhiji himself inaugurated the temple.
- Visalakshi Temple – The Kashi Vishalakshi temple is one of the acclaimed Shaktipith temples in the country. This traditional south Indian style temple has many miraculous stories about it and is a favourite with devotees from all over the country.
- Tridev Temple – It is very rare that we find a Hindu temple dedicated to all three Gods of the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Varanasi’s Tridev temple is unique in this respect and is visited by hundreds of devotees each day.
- Kamakhya Temple – The Kamakhya temple of Guwahati is one of the best known pilgrimage centres in the country. The Kamakhya temple in Varanasi is the temple that devotees visit when they cannot make it to Assam.
- New Vishwanath Temple – The New Vishwanath Temple in the campus of the Banaras Hindu University was constructed by the educationist, Madan Mohan Malaviya with the help of the Birlas. The tower of the New Vishwanath Temple is said to be the tallest temple tower in the country.
- Mrityunjay Mahadev Temple – Shiva is known to assume many forms; one of these is that of Mrityunjaya – the one who achieves victory over Death itself. This temple dedicated to Shiva in the form of Mrityunjaya, is visited by devotees in great numbers who pray for good health and a long life.
- Nepali Temple – The Nepali Mandir in Lalit Ghat is also known as Mini Khajuraho. The terracotta, wood, and stone Pagoda style temple was constructed by the King of Nepal, Rana Bahadur Shah, in the 1800s and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Sarnath – Sarnath is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the country. This is only about 13 kilometres from the city of Varanasi and the Stupa of Sarnath is its greatest attraction.
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