Located on the banks of the river Ganges, Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas that signifies the power of Lord Shiva.
Amidst the mixed responses for one of the biggest openers on the Indian box office, Brahmastra, the audience has, no doubt, expressed their extreme love for the VFX and the shooting locations, one of which consists of Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. One of the oldest cities in the world, Kashi, which is also called Banaras and Varanasi, holds a significant place in the movie as much as this mythological temple for the song, ‘Kesariya’ featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhat.
The reason for choosing this century-old temple in Varanasi is much apparent – for it is a shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, and as the movie revolves around the power of “Shiva,” the character played by Ranbir Kapoor, it well sits with the expectations of the audience. However, the temple, located in Vishwanath Gali, has been attracting the crowd from all over the country and even the world for a very long time.
Not only are there various legends attached to the power of the temple but also of its existence. It is believed to have been constructed back in 1194 for the first time but witnessed various destruction due to foreign invasions. The present shrine was built on the orders of Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar, who hailed from Indore in 1780. It is believed that Lord Shiva had come to her dream, after which she built this temple.
Popular as the Kashi shrine and one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the temple is believed to be proof of the first Jyotirlinga that manifested itself in Varanasi. According to Shiva Puran, it is said that Jyotirlinga is a form where Lord Shiva appeared out as a fiery column of light, and it was through the light that the Lord was able to proclaim his supremacy over other powers and gods.
The holy deity at this temple is called Lord Vishweshwar or Vishwanath, which signifies ‘the Lord of the world’ – all of which are names for Lord Shiva. In addition, many Hindu pilgrims consider the temple to be a place to achieve salvation. As per beliefs, it is here that the Lord gives the “Tarak mantra” to the people on the verge of dying.
In the modern-day world
Along with its history, the temple has been the site of attraction, also for the popular Ganga aarti that takes place at the adjacent Dashahwamedha Ghat. On the other hand, what is even more enthralling to see is the temple’s current-day structure, which is a beauty itself.
The structure has three domes, two of which have been covered in gold! Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the king who once ruled Punjab, is said to have donated the gold at the time of its construction in the 18th century.
Another prominent feature here is the Gyan Vapi well, also called the well of wisdom that has existed for a long time. The people of Varanasi also believe that Lord Shiva was hidden in this well to protect it against the destruction by various rulers.
Currently, even a mosque stands opposite the temple that was built by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, and it is said that the well acted as a guard for the temple that did not let the Mughal ruler destroy it. The well stands in between the temple and the mosque to date.
The shrine’s popularity is such that the director of the movie Bhramhastra had to be responsible for shooting here and cautioned not to disturb the regular prayers, as he had mentioned on Instagram Live while talking about the song.
Meanwhile, the debate on the quality of the screenplay of Bramhastra might take some more time to conclude. Still, one thing is sure: how the movie has beautifully captured the aura of this mythological and historical temple of Banaras.