Kashi Vishwanath corridor unveiled – Indian Express

Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Indian ExpressThe Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located in the Vishwanath Gali of Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, standing on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. It houses one of the twelve sacred jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. – The Indian Express 

There are many pilgrim sites in India and for the Hindu community, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi holds a great spiritual and religious significance. On December 13, 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Kashi Vishwanath corridor, which will connect the ancient temple to the ghats of the Ganga.

The Rs 800-crore project was launched by the PM in his parliamentary constituency in March 2019, and it is said to be his “dream project”. The corridor, built over an area of 5,000 hectares, seeks to decongest and transform the temple complex.

For the uninitiated, the Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple receives pilgrims and tourists from many parts of India and even the world. It also finds mention in many books on ancient India. As mentioned earlier, it is one of the most revered and famous Hindu temples that is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the God of Destruction and one of the holy Hindu trinity.

Modi doing puja to Sri Vishwanath at Kashi (Dec 13, 2021).

The temple is located in the Vishwanath Gali of Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi, standing on the western bank of the holy river Ganga. It houses one of the twelve sacred jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva.

The temple gets its name from the presiding deity Shri Vishwanath or Vishweshwara, meaning the “Lord of the Universe” or the “Keeper of the Universe”. In ancient India, Varanasi or Benaras, was called Kashi, and this is what gives the temple its name.

Interestingly, the current structure of the temple that you see here was built by Maratha ruler, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in the year 1780. The original temple was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb—whom history remembers as an autocrat—who instead raised the Gyanvapi Mosque which [today] co-exists on an adjacent site.

The temple is managed by the government of Uttar Pradesh.

The temple is located in a congested part of the city, which can be accessed by walking through a narrow gully, which humans have to share with cattle, too. The road is flanked by shops and buildings, throttling it. The current corridor intends to give pilgrims a spiritual experience by decongesting the area and restoring the “lost glory”.

Previously, the temple lacked direct access to Ganga. A 20-foot-wide corridor was envisaged to connect the Lalita Ghat to Mandir Chowk within the temple premises. An official of the Ministry of Culture said that people can now “take a dip in the river every morning and worship the lord in the temple, which will now have direct visibility from the ghat”.

Sadhus at Kashi Vishwanath Temple (Dec. 13,2021)

Big boost for pilgrims

Naturally, accessibility will lead to a tourism influx. The infrastructural changes will benefit the holy city as well as the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sarnath. A total of 23 buildings were inaugurated today, including a tourist facilitation centre, Mumukshu Bhavan, bhogshala, city museum, viewing gallery and food court.

Additionally, the Rudraksh Convention Centre—constructed like a Shiva lingam—can seat 1,200 people, and has divisible meeting rooms, an art gallery, and multipurpose pre-function areas. Ganga cruises are also planned for tourists.

During the process to de-clutter the area by removing properties that were clogging the proposed corridor, more than 40 “lost” temples—with a history going back a few centuries—like the Gangeshwar Mahadev temple, the Manokameshwar Mahadev temple, the Jauvinayak temple, and the Shri Kumbha Mahadev temple were discovered. – The Indian Express, 13 December 22021

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  1. Kashi Temples

    Kashi Vishwanath Temple: What You Should Know – Rediff.com – 13 Dec. 2021

    The first time that the project was called for was by Gandhiji in 1916, when he remarked, “I visited the Vishwanath temple last evening, and as I was walking through those lanes, these were the thoughts that touched me. If a stranger dropped from above on to this great temple, and he had to consider what we as Hindus were, would he not be justified in condemning us? Is not this great temple a reflection of our own character? I speak feelingly, as a Hindu.”

    “Is it right that the lanes of our sacred temple should be as dirty as they are? The houses round about are built anyhow. The lanes are tortuous and narrow. If even our temples are not models of roominess and cleanliness, what can our self-government be?”

    More than a century later, in 2019, the area between Shri Kashi Vishwanath Mandir and the Ganga was cleared for a comprehensive redevelopment called Vishwanath Dham.

    The architect collaborated with temple architects to create a traditional inner court, parisar, around the temple, to ensure that its sanctity and dignity were upheld.

    The parisar is made entirely of stone, without any steel or concrete, so that it can last for as long as the temple itself.

    The parisar is built entirely in chunar stone from Mirzapur, which is the same stone used in the temple.

    The outer court, the temple chowk, is modern yet uses traditional arch-shaped torans, to blend in with the temple architecture.

    The gateway to the chowk draws inspiration from the Ramnagar Fort gateway.

    The main aim of the project is to create a processional route from the Ganga to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

    From the river, the temple’s presence is announced by a gateway atop a pyramid of steps.

    After entering through the gateway, the chowk, which is centred on an axis with the gateway, guides one towards the temple.

    From here, one descends to reach the gateway of the parisar, which is also centred on the same axis.

    The construction of the project was a huge logistical challenge because the only access for transporting construction material was either through a narrow 40 feet road that reached one end of the site, or on barges through the river. All the material was transported at night.

    When buildings were demolished to create space for pilgrim facilities, many old temples were discovered within those buildings.

    Many of the temples were being used as structural supports for the concrete slabs and beams of the buildings. These temples were restored and included in the development.

    Several new amenities have been added to cater to the comfort, safety and security of the locals, pilgrims, tourists, and temple priests.

    These include three pilgrim facilitation centres with lockers where visitors can leave their personal belongings and footwear, covered areas with fans for queuing, a small guesthouse for the temple trust, lodging for pilgrims, a hospice for the elderly and infirm, spiritual bookstores, handicraft shops, museums and exhibition spaces, a hall for gathering, a large kitchen for preparation of prasad and facilities for the temple priest to change clothes.

    There is a viewing gallery on top of the main gateway, from where one can absorb the vast expanse of the Ganga and have a view of the temple at the same time.

    Pilgrims spend barely a few moments in the temple, after travelling long distances from all over the country and the world.

    The bank of steps leading up to the temple allows them space, to be in the presence of the temple—the sacred precinct—for a while longer, adding to their spiritual experience.

    The project has made the temple complex fully accessible to those with mobility restrictions.

    It provides wheelchair-friendly access all the way from the Ganga to the temple.

    The precinct is designed to be well-lit throughout. It has high-quality and sufficient toilets, at 3 different locations.

    It also has dedicated spaces for lactating mothers. The project has various facilities to ensure that security arrangements can be made in an unobtrusive manner.

    The attempt is to create an inclusive space for all genders and age groups.

    The Manikarnika Ghat is a cremation ghat, where mourners need privacy from the hordes of pilgrims and tourists visiting the temple.

    The project provides this by creating a wall, which also houses a ramp leading up from the Ganga River.

    The main architectural lesson demonstrated by this project is how sacred spaces that have immense spiritual and heritage value, located in dense urban settings, can be transformed in a respectful and sensitive manner.



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