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Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga Temple is situated at Kashi (Banaras) and famous by the name of Shiv Vishwanath Kashi. It is said in the scriptures that when the earth was submerged under water (Pralaya). Lord Shiva upheld holds this place by his Trishul. It is believed that who come and die here attain liberation (Moksha). Lord Shiva gives the Tarak Mantra to the ones who die here. The one who prays and worships Vishweshwar with devotion attains all his desires of happiness and liberation; and one who incessantly recites his name attains all siddhis and finally gets liberated
Situated amidst the crowded lanes of Varanasi, the temple of Vishwanatha can be approached from a lane called Vishwanatha lane. Inside the courtyard is the temple of Vishwanatha surrounded by many subsidiary shrines. There is a well, called Jnana Vapi i.e. ‘wisdom well' located to the north of the main temple. As one enters the temple from the southern side the first temple to the left of the pilgrim are three temples in a row one behind the other - Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri and Avimukta Vinayaka. A cluster of five lingas enclosed in a temple is called Nilakantheshvar temple. Just above the Avimukteshvara Vinayaka are temples of Shanishchara and Virupaksha. To the right just near the entrance is the temple enshrining a linga called Avimukteshvara. There is a controversy regarding the original Jyotirlinga at the place, which suggests that not the Vishwanatha but the Avimukteshvara is the original Jyotirlinga.
According to some scholars the other lingas like the Mahakala, Nikumbheshvara, Dandapanisvara, Vaikuntheshvara, kala Bhairava, kapileshvara, Kubereshvara bear the names of Yakshas. There are also images of Saubhagya Gauri, Shringar Gauri, Savitri, Vighneshvara Ganesha, Vyaseshvara etc. along with a cluster of small lingas to the north is called the court of Vishwanatha.
The Vishwanatha temple consists of a mandapa and a sanctum. Inside the sanctum a linga is set into the center of the floor in a square silver altar. The Linga is of black stone. Though the interior of the temple is not large and elaborate it presents the peaceful atmosphere ideal for worship.
The temple is kept open from 5.30 in the morning and stays so till 12 in the noon. The temple usually remains closed during the noon hours, and reopens in the evening at 4 p.m. The temple closes in the night after the last pujas are performed by 8 p.m.
The pilgrims visit the temple any time of the day and worship the Lord by offering flowers and bilva leaves and chanting mantras of Shiva. Daily five times the Aarati is performed. The evening Aarati is known as Shringar Aarati. During this Aarati the linga is decorated with variety of flowers.
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