Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city’s winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
New Vishwanath Temple
Situated in the premises of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), New Vishwanath Temple is definitely a must visit in Varanasi. The temple was constructed by the famed Birla family and hence is also known as Birla Temple. In fact, it is a temple complex which consists of 7 temples. The Shiva temple is situated on the ground floor, whereas Durga temple and Lakshmi Narayan temple are located on the first floor. The architecture of the temple is inspired by the old Vishwanath Temple and the structure is made of white marbles. The walls of the temple are adorned with the text of Gita, which certainly catches the eyes of the visitors here.
This temple is famous for its exquisite architecture and wood work. It is believed that the temple was built by King of Nepal and thus, this shrine is also called Nepali Temple. It is situated in the Lalita Ghat and catches the attention of many visitors in Varanasi. The intricate wood carving is what attracts visitors the most; the temple reflects the refined taste for good architecture taste of the rulers of Nepal.
Kashi Vishwanath/Golden Temple
Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most important place to see in Varanasi. The history of this sacred shrine can be traced back to 3500 years. The temple is one of the 12th Jyotirlingas, which are considered the holiest Shiva temples. The Linga is the presiding deity here and the temple is quadrangle, surrounded by temples of other gods. The temple once had a golden spire and domes; hence it was also called the Golden Temple.
Tulsi Manas Temple
This temple is yet another important shrine in Varanasi. Dedicated to Lord Rama, Tulsi Manas Temple is situated next to another famed shrine called Durga Temple. It is a white-marble temple that has its walls covered with the text from Tulsi Das written Ramcharitramanas. It is believed that the temple is located at a place where Tulsi Das wrote this famous Indian epic.
Also known as Durga Temple, Monkey Temple is yet another popular temple in Varanasi. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga but is recognized as a Monkey Temple, due to excessive population of monkeys around it. It is believed the presiding deity was not man-made but appeared on its own. The temple is built by a Bengali Maharani in a Nagara style of architecture. Non-Hindus are allowed to enter the courtyard of the shrine but not the inner sanctum.
Bharat Mata Temple
This temple is one of its kinds as instead of being dedicated to any god or goddess, the temple is dedicated to Bharat Mata or India (assumed as Mother). The temple is situated in Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth Campus. Inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936, the temple was an inspiration for those who were fighting the war of independence. The statue in the shrine denotes mountain, plain and ocean and the major highlight of the temple is the relief map of India carved on a marble.
Alamgir mosque is famed for its exquisite architecture and enviable location. The mosque is situated on the edge of River Ganga and enjoys a picturesque scene. Said to be built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb who is believed to have demolished the old Kashivishwanath Temple and constructed this mosque in its place; Alamgir mosque is a fine piece of architecture. The mosque is also known as Gyanvapi mosque due to the well of the same name situated close to it. One can notice the influence of North Indian or Hindu architecture in this mosque; however most of the mosque is done in Islam architecture.