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More About Varanasi

Importance of immersion of mortal remains (ASTHI) in Ganga

In Hindu tradition, if a person dies, his body is cremated and the ashes alongwith osseous fragments (consisting of bones – Asthi) are immersed in a holy river or even sea. People attach much importance to immersion of Asthi in Ganges. According to Kashi Khand, Chapter 28, Lord Shiva was describing to Goddess Parvaty the importance of River Ganga. A long time back there was a Brahmin named Vahikan. Though he had adorned the sacred thread (Yagyopaveeth), he neither observed any rituals nor followed any code of conduct prescribed for Brahmins. He never uttered any prayers. He was never interested in chanting vedic hymns and he married a girl from out of his caste. Once there was a severe famine and left with no alternative he and his wife left their home for greener pastures. On the way they had to cross a forest, where he was attacked and killed by a tiger. A vulture saw his dead body, took a piece of his leg and flew away. In the sky, it encountered another vulture who fought with the first vulture for sharing a piece of flesh and in the scuffle one small piece of flesh and bone fell below. It so happened that coincidentally both the vultures were flying over the River Ganga and the piece of bone fell into the holy river. After Vahikan’s death, the attendants of Yam Raj took him and produced before Yam Raj. Chitragupta listed out the evil doings by Vahikan. Kashi Khand has described in detail the misdeeds and sins committed by the dead person. Accordingly Yam Raj ordained that Vahikan should be awarded the severest of all punishments and he should go through the travails of various hells like Raurava, Anda Tamisra, Kumbi Paka, Krimi Bhojana etc. Just when Vahikan was about to suffer the punishments, his bones fell into the River Ganga following a fight between the vultures. Several celestial damsels from Heaven (Apsaras) descended on the earth and took Vahikan, who had now assumed a divine form, to heaven. This shows the power of immersion of bones in the River Ganga. To this day, people immerse the Asthi of their departed relatives in Holy River Ganga.

Banaras Hindu University

The Banaras Hindu University or BHU is an internationally reputed University and is situated in Varanasi. The great nationalist leader, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, founded the Banaras Hindu University in the year 1916. Dr Annie Besant also played an important role in the formation of the BHU. The Banaras Hindu University played an important role in the Indian independence movement. Over a period of time, it has developed into one of the greatest centers of learning in India. The BHU has produced many great freedom fighters and Nation builders. It has immensely contributed to the progress of the nation through a large number of renowned scholars, artists and scientists.

The Banaras Hindu University has a sprawling campus, spanning across 1300 acres. It has well maintained roads (crossing each other at right angle), extensive greenery, a temple, an airstrip and buildings, which are an architectural delight. There is another campus of the Banaras Hindu University at Barkachha, in Mirzapur district, covering an area of 2700 acres. The BHU comprises of 3 Institutes, 14 Faculties, 124 Departments, 4 Interdisciplinary Centers and 3 Constituent Schools, spanning a vast range of subjects pertaining to all branches of humanities, social sciences, science, technology, medicine, fine arts and performing arts.

Banaras Hindu University also has 6 centers of advanced studies, 10 Departments under Special Assistance Programme and a large number of specialized Research Centers. There are four Degree Colleges in Varanasi that are affiliated to the BHU. The Bharat Kala Bhavan, an art and archaeological museum, is a treasure trove of rare collections. The Banaras Hindu University also has a medical college (Institute of Medical Sciences) and an engineering institute (IT BHU). Sir Sundar Lal Hospital (having a capacity of 927 beds) is equipped with all the modern amenities and caters to the medical needs of a large population. The University also provides for a well-developed sports infrastructure. BHU has wide range of facilities for sports and hobbies. It has large playgrounds, a big auditorium, a flying club and many other services and utilities like Printing Press, Publication Cell, Fruit Preservation Center, subsidized Canteens, Employment and information Bureau, Security, etc.

The Banaras Hindu University consists of about 15000 students, coming from to all streams of life, castes, religions and races. It has about 2000 teachers and nearly 5000 non-teaching staff. Another important feature of the BHU is the number of foreign students. A large number of students come from the U.S.A., Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.

Chunar Fort

The Chunar fort is situated in the Vindhya Range at a distance of about 45 odd km from Varanasi. The Chunar fort is located in the Mirzapur district. According to the Puranas the oldest name of Chunar was Charanadri as Lord Vishnu had taken his first step in his Vaman incarnation in the dynasty of Great king Bali. However Chunar came into prominence after the visit of Babar followed by Shershah Suri, Humayun, Akbar, Aurangzeb and finally the Britishers.

It is said that Maharaja Vikramaditya, the king of Ujjain established the fort of Chunar. According to the Alha Khand, King Sahadeo made this fort as his capital and established the statue of Naina Yogini in a cave of Vindhya hill. To commemorate his victory on 52 rulers, King Sahadeo built a stone umbrella inside the fort.

The Chunar fort became important for its association with the Mughal king, Babar and later Shershah Suri, who got the possession of the fort by marrying the wife of Taj Khan Sarang-Khani, the Governer of Ibrahim Lodi. In 1531 AD Humayun made an unsuccessful effort to capture this fort but later in 1574AD, Akbar the great captured this fort and since that very time it remained under the Mughals up to 1772AD. In the year 1772AD the East India Company captured the Chunar fort.

Gange Aarti

Varanasi is a sacred and oldest city of the world located at the banks of the holy River Gange. Where, Gange aarti is performed daily in the evening by a group of priests at the Dashashwamedh ghat. Through the aarti, Agni Pooja is performed in which a commitment is made to the Lord Shiva, Mata Gange, Surya, Agni (Fire) as well as the whole universe made by the Lord Shiva. On some special occasions, religious festivals and second day of the week means Tuesdays, a particular type of aarti is held at this ghat.

Gange aarti is the magnificent event during evening in the Varanasi that one must not miss to see it. It makes us to experience the great feelings while Gange aarti become in process. This beautiful ritual makes every moment of the evening period special and fills with the spiritual thoughts. It is performed by the brass lamps which accompanied with the mantra chant in the presence of the huge crowd.

All the priests who have to perform the aarti, wear same cloth, the dhoti and kurta which is tightly bind with a long towel. First they make preparation of the Gange aarti by making collection of the five elevated planks, a multi tiered oil lamp, an idol of the Goddess Ganga, flowers, incense sticks, a conch shell, a big and heavy brass lamp having a snake hood at the edge of the River Gange. A group of boats filled with devotees come around the place of aarti at the bank of River. They are very eager to see the event; some of them take live video, photos as well. Ritual of the Gange aarti is performed by the students of the Vedas and Upanishads which is lead by the head priest of the Gangotri Seva Samiti. The whole event takes around 45 minutes.

Goddess Annapurna

Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati used to play the game of dice. Once they were playing and the game became very interesting. They started betting. Parvati kept her jewels and Shiva kept his trident. Shiva lost the game and he lost his trident. So in the next game he bet his snake to get back the trident. He lost in this game too. He played more and bet more and kept on losing. Eventually he lost everything including his begging bowl.

Shiva felt very humiliated and went to Deodar forest to meet Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu approached Shiva who told him everything about what had happened. Lord Vishnu then told Shiva to play the game again. He told him that he will win back everything he had lost in the next game. Shiva took Lord Vishnu’s advice and went back to play the game again.

Goddess Parvati became suspicious of Shiva’s sudden turn of fortunes that led him to win back everything. She called him a cheat. This led to an argument between the two of them. Finally, Lord Vishnu appeared as he could not take the fight anymore. He told them that the dice in the game had moved according to his wish and they were only under an illusion that they had been playing.

To this Shiva added that everything materialistic was just an illusion or Maya. Everything that we possessed was an illusion. Even the food we ate was Maya. This made Goddess Parvati angry. She did not agree that food was an illusion. She said that calling food an illusion was equivalent to calling her an illusion. So in order to show Lord Shiva and the world her importance she disappeared saying that she wanted to see how the world would survive without food.

Her disappearance meant that Nature came to a standstill. There were no changes in seasons. Everything became barren. The lands became infertile. Nothing grew anymore. This led to severe drought and a huge shortage of food.

The Gods, humans and demons all kept praying for food. Goddess Parvati heard the prayers and she could not see her children perishing out of hunger. So she appeared in Kashi (Varanasi) and started distributing food.

Shiva realized his mistake and the fact that he was incomplete without Shakti. So he appeared before Goddess Parvati in Kashi with a begging bowl in his hands. He said her that he had realized his mistake that food could not be dismissed as an illusion and it was required to nourish the body as well as the inner soul. Since then Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the Goddess of food – Annapurna Devi. It is believed that if the food is cooked with a spirit of holiness it becomes sacred as Annapurna blesses it.

Gyan Vapi

According to Kashi Khand one Digpal named Eeshan came to Kashi and with his Trishul dug a Vapi which came to be known as Gyan Vapi. He then started worshipping Lord Shiva. The water from this Vapi (Well) is capable of giving knowledge to the devotees. This well is located near the Gyan Vapi Mosque on the way to Vishwanath Temple. Kashi Khand has described the power of water from Gyan Vapi in Chapters 33 and 34. One Princess Kalawati was presented a map of Kashi and when she happened to touch the Gyan Vapi in the map with her finger, she could recollect the events that had occurred in her previous birth. Elsewhere Kashi Khand has amply described the good effects of Gyan Vapi water in various chapters. A devotee who takes bath in Gyan Vapi and performs rituals for his forefathers will make them extremely happy and even if they are rotting in hell, they are certain to reach the heaven. However, in the present day scenario, with heavy police patrolling, it may not be possible to freely engage in such activities. However, devotees can have darshan of the Gyan Vapi, take some water therefrom for sprinkling over their heads or consumption as Prasad.

Jantar Mantar

Is located on the roof of the Man Mahal Palace near to the Dashashwamedh Ghat,

The construction of the Jantar Mantar in Varanasi was done in 1737 next to the Dashashwamedh Ghat on the western bank of the holy River Gange. It was built by the King Jai Singh from Jaipur. He had established Jantar Mantar in five cities (from 1727 to 1734) known as Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur, Ujjain and Mathura. Many old and attractive instruments are there which can record the accurate motion, speed as well as the properties of the stars, planets, cosmic objects etc. By seeing the instruments, it is supposed that these instruments are very old and was constructed around in 1600. These wonderful instruments are our historic property which we have to take care and keep safely in order to stay for long time. It is considered that the eagerness of Jai Singh towards the astronomy made him able to construct such a huge and attractive historical observatory.

Name of Some Instruments at Jantar Mantar

The numbers of instruments that are still present at the Jantar Mantar are Narivalaya dakshin and uttar gola, Dhruva Yantra, Ram Yantra, Krantivritta Yantra, Prakash Yantra, Disha Yantra, Chakra Yantra, Samrat Yantra, Laghu Samrat Yantra, Digansha Yantra and many more.

Usage of some instruments is:
  • Digansa Yantra is used to find the horizontal angle of the stars.
  • Samrat Yantra and Laghu Samrat Yantra are used to get time, declination and hour angle of the stars.
  • Chakra Yantra is used to get the real declination of stars such as Sun, Moon as well as their distance in time on the meridian.
  • Narivalaya dakshin and uttar gola are used to get the exact location of the stars means whether they are in the Northern or Southern hemisphere.
  • Dakshinobiti Yantra is used to know the altitude of the stars on the meridian

Kamakhya Devi (Kamakshi Devi)

Lord Shiva was in Mandarachal and Kashi was ruled by a very pious and religious King named Divodas. In his Kingdom every one was very happy and there was all round prosperity. He had reached an understanding with Lord Brahma that as long as he was ruling, Devas and other celestial beings should stay away from Kashi and should not create any disturbance in Kashi. (Kashi Khand, Chapter 45). Lord Brahma more or less agreed to it but on one condition that King Divodas should prove to be an excellent administrator and all people living in Kashi and visiting Kashi should be treated well in their religious pursuits. The King agreed and accordingly gave excellent governance. Lord Shiva was very upset at being away from Kashi for a long time and he wanted to make King Divodas commit some mistake. Accordingly, he sent sixty four Yoginis to create some disturbance, but they were enthralled by the beauty and serene surroundings of Kashi which appeared to be a part of heaven. They ultimately settled down in Kashi and established themselves at various places all round the Kshetra. KAMAKHYA DEVI (KAMAKSHI DEVI) was one of them.

Kamakhya Devi Temple All the places where these Yoginis stationed themselves are regarded as Shakti Peeth. A person praying at these places will get divine energy. The devotees will be blessed with mental peace, victory in competitions and debates and will attain all round success. Kashi Khand, Chapter 72, in another reference has described Kamakhya as a super power created by Goddess in her fight with Durgasur.

Kamakhya Devi temple is located at Kamachha. This is a famous temple and another temple “Batuk Bhairav temple” nearby is a famous landmark. In fact, the name of the locality Kamachha has been derived from the name of Kamakhya Devi. If a devotee travels from Bhelupura towards Rathyatra he will have to take a left turn just before multi storeyed Kashi Raaj Apartments to reach this place. Since the temple is quite famous, most of the rickshaw pullers know this place.

TYPES OF POOJA The temple is open from 03.00 a.m to 12.00 p.m. and from 04.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m. Aarties are held at 05.30 a.m. and 07.30 a.m. There is a heavy rush on Tuesdays, Fridays and during Navratri days (both in March-April and September-October

Location of Kashi Vishvanath Jyothirlinga

Where the Varana and Asi rivers join the Ganges, a beautiful city was built there in the ancient times. It was named Varanasi. Varanasi, a prime place of pilgrimage, a tribe called kasha used to live. Therefore, Varanasi was also known as Kashi. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. Hence it acquired special importance. A king called Deivodas expanded this area. Varanasi is located in Uttarpradesh, in the Gangetic plains.

Purana of kashi vishwanath jyotirlinga

Nirvikar cahitanya and Sanatan Brahma have assumed the form of Saguna Vishwarupa from the initial Nirgun Roopa or form. The Shiva Shakti roopa became the Purusha (man) and Stree (the woman) again. Prakriti and Purusha (Nature and man) (Shiva-Shakti) were once ordained by Shiva to do tapas in the universe in order to create the best being. He specified the best place for this purpose. When a prayer was held, Nirgun Shiva, with His own powers and aura, created a wonderful city called Panchakoshi. Vishnu, who resided there, spent a lot of time praying to Shiva after which several watersprings originated there. Vishnu was amazed at this wonderous event, and even as he tilled his head, a gemstone fell from his ear. Because of this place, it was also called Manikarnika. The entire Panch Koshi area of Manikarnika waters were then gathered into the Trident by Shiva. Then from the navel of Vishnu was born a lotus flower with Brahma in it. Brahma was ordained by Shiva to create a world, at which Brahma created this wonderful world. It had fifty crore Yojanas of area and fourteen lokas. In order to save the lives of these who are bound by their own actions or karma. Shiva kept panchakoshi city away from the entire universe. In this city, Shiva Himself established the saviour Muktidayak JyotirLinga, which He can never leave. Shiva removed this very Kashi from His Trident and set it in this mortal world. It was not to be destroyed when Brahma’s day ends, but during Pralay i.e., final destruction of the world, Shiva saved it by keeping it safe in his trident. So the kashi is called avimukta kshetra. In Kashi, the Avimukteshwar Linga is there forever. Those who can never hope for salvation, attain Moksha here.

This holiest city of Panchakoshi, with its capacity to destroy every conceivable sin, is the vehicle of a special Moksha by the name “Samyugha”. That is the reason why this city which is ruled by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, is the place, where even divines want to die. Sarwaguna from inside and Tamoguna from outside, are the qualities of Rudra here. When prayed to, Vishwanatha Bahagavan Sri Shankar made this abode and resided there with Parvati.

Glory of Kashi

Kashi city is the place for Moksha and Ganga. Those who live here attain Mukti or Salvation, even without having to travel to any place of pilgrimage. Any one, be it a man, woman, young, old, Sahava, pure or impure, Prasuta, Aprasuta, Swadesh, Andaja, Udibhaja, of whatever caste, all attain Moksha. There is not an iota of doubt in this. Whatever a person may be doing, eat, sleep or anything else, if he departs from this world from Avimukteshwar, he definitely attains Moksha. Any small act of goodness or Punyakarya, takes away all the sins. Good as well as bad people are born on this earth. But by living in Kashi, both attain Moksha. Later, several people came forward to build this temple. A king by the name Banar developed this city of pilgrimage. About one and half thousand beautiful temples were built here. The tower of the Vishweshwara temple is a hundred feet high.

Kashi nagar is so great that even if the universe is to be destroyed in Pralaya, it would remain intact. Dandapani and Kalabhairav guard this city. They stay there forever. On the Ganga banks eighty four bathing ghats are located. There are also several teerthkundas. They have been there right from the times of Vedas.

History of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Varanasi, which was a pious place of pilgrimage for the hindus, soon became an eyesore and source of jealousy for the Muslims. From 1033 to 1669 AD Kashi came under several destructive attacks. Temples were demolished and Masjids built there instead. But due to the dedication of the Hindu devotees, the JyotirLinag pilgrimage place continued to develop. During the reign of the British and the Marathas, this place really developed well. Even the Jaina and Boudha monks helped to keep the place of the city intact.

The Kashi Vishweshwar temple as we see it now was built by Ahalya Devi Holkar in 1777 AD. In 1785 AD, the then King of Kashi, Mansaram and his son Belvant Singh built many more temples near Varanasi. In 1755 AD, the Avadh pantof pratinidhi (representative) got the old temple of Bindumadhava repaired and renovated it beautifully. The kalabhairava temple was built by Srimant Baji Rao Peshwa in 1852 AD.

King Ranjit Singh had the Kashi Vishwanath temple towers covered in gold. A huge bell hangs in the temple. It was donated by the King of Nepal. Surrounding Saranath, there are many Budhhist stupas, Viharas and Chaitra grihas. In 1931 AD

The Hindu devotees visit Kashi to make offering. Here they perform many rituals and consider themselves blessed. Along side, several foreign tourists visit this place regularly. Places worth seeing include Ghats, temples, tapobhoomi and the scenic beauty of the surroundings. Kashi Kshetra and Sri Vishweswara JyotirLinga are connected as the holiest shrines in the world.

Dying in Kashi or performing the final rites is considered as the way to the Heavens. Kashi – Rameshwar yatra is the prime pilgrimage for the Hindus.

Jaya Ganga, Jaya Vishwanath, Om Namah Shivaya. The entire area echoes with these chantings. The Gods in Varanasi are described in Sanskrit in the following way:

“Varanasitu Bhuvantrya sarabhoota’
Ramya Nrinaam Sugatidakhil Sevyamana”
Atragata Vividha dushkritkarinopi’
Papakshaye virajasaha sumanaprakashah”
- Narada Puran

Narmadeshwar

Once there was a discussion among various Sages (Rishis) as to which is the most divine river. There were four important rivers, Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati and Narmada. The unanimous answer was Ganga. Ganga was symbolic of Rig Veda, Yamuna symbolic of Yajur Veda and Narmada of Sama Veda. It was revealed that long time back, river Narmada offered intense prayers to Lord Brahma and the latter appeared before her. Narmada asked Lord Brahma that she should be treated equivalent to river Ganga. On hearing this, Lord Brahma was taken aback and he stated that there is no God equal to Lord Shiva, no Purush equal to Maha Vishnu and no river equal to Ganga. Narmada was not pleased with the response. She came to Kashi, installed a Ling near Trilochaneshwar near Pilpila Teerth and started invoking Lord Shiva, who appeared before her and granted her a divine wish. Narmada only craved for the divine bhakti and darshan of the Lord. Lord Shiva granted that all stones in the river bed of Narmada will be treated as Shiv Ling. He granted her one more divine wish. A devotee who takes bath in Ganga is cleansed of his sins. A devotee who takes bath in Yamuna for one week is cleansed of his sin and one who takes bath for three days in Saraswati becomes pure. However, if a devotee simply sees the river Narmada he will be cleansed of his sins. Lord Shiva also granted that the Ling established by Narmada would be called as Narmadeshwar. This Ling will be capable of granting Mukti to its devotees. Merely by looking at this Ling, a devotee will be cleansed of all his sins. After saying this, Lord Shiva disappeared into this Ling. (Kashi Khand, Chapter 92).

Lord Skanda who was narrating this to Sage Agasthya said that a girl who even listens to the Mahatmya or reads this chapter relating to Narmada will be cleansed of her sins. LOCATION OF NARMADESHWAR Narmadeshwar is located at A-2/79, behind Trilochan. People can travel upto this place by rickshaw upto Prahlad Ghat Chauraha and approach this place via Trilochan which is a famous landmark.

Ramnagar Fort

Ramnagar Fort is a work of art as it exhibits a striking aura, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Varanasi. The grandeur of this place is out of the world with its intricate artwork. Its enchanting beauty adds an element of enigma to the fort. This blog brings out this esoteric element and explores the story behind Ramnagar Fort.

Situated at a distance of 14 km from Varanasi, Ramnagar Fort overlooks the bank of river Ganga. It was built by Maharaja Balwant Singh in the 18th century. Presently, Pelu Bheru Singh who is known as Maharaja of Varanasi resides here. Although the title- Maharajas have been abolished ever since the Abolition of Titles Act 1971, the inhabitant of this fort is still fondly called ‘Maharaja’.

Talking about the fort, it dates back to the 17th century and is adorned by all the typical features of the Mughal architecture. Thus, it has been built on high grounds, crossing above the flood level. There are a number of carved balconies, arcades, towers, open courtyard and pavilions. Only some part of the fort is open for public as rest is the residential area of the Maharaja. When the Maharaja is in the residence that is in his palace in the fort, the flag of the fort is raised.

In terms of construction, this quaint fort was constructed using red sandstone. This fort has two stunning temples and a museum within the property. While one temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the other one was built to venerate Ved Vyasa, who wrote the great Indian epic, Mahabharata, which is believed to be the longest poems in the world. It is also believed that Ved Vyasa stayed at this land for quite some time. The temples house fascinating statues of Lord Vishnu & Ved Vyasa.

The museum present at this fort exhibits a majestic collection which comprises of vintage Cars, Royal palkies, an armoury of swords, cannons and old guns, ivory work and antique clocks. There are also jewel-encrusted chairs, religious manuscripts and royal costumes present in the museum. The Dakshin Mukhi Hanuman, Durga Temple and Chhinnamastika Temple are also located at Ramnagar.

The Ramnagar Fort is a delight to watch especially during Ram Lila festival when it is buzzing with life. The fort looks vibrant and colourful during the festival in which different episodes of Ramayana are enacted, keeping the visitors engaged. The fort is pretty busy during the grand prix of this ten day long festival because of the grand scale on which the festival of Dussehra is celebrated. The fort is also worth a visit during the monsoon season when it looks pretty being drenched in the rain.

Thus, Ramnagar Fort is a great place to visit as there you can see the ancient type of architecture and style. It serves as a great place for amateur photographers with its picturesque views from the fort during the sunset.

River Ganga

A devotee who bathes in River Ganga and worships Shiv Ling, derives much more benefits than undergoing various rituals like religious fasting, donation, intense penance and austerity, Havans (rituals with fire etc.). Wantingly or unwantingly, if a person touches fire, he will get burnt; similarly wantingly or unwittingly if a devotee bathes in Holy Ganga, the river swallows all his sins. A devotee gets some amount of Punya (purification acquired by virtuous deeds) by bathing in Ganga, he will derive the same amount of Punya by guiding or directing another person to bathe in Ganga. By bathing once in River Ganga, a devotee derives the benefit of performing Aswa Medha Yagya (horse sacrifice ritual). If a person bathes in Holy Ganga for one month, he will reside with Lord Indra. If a fortunate person bathes in Holy Ganga for a year, he will reach Lord Vishnu’s abode. If a sincere devotee bathes in River Ganga during his entire life, he attains Moksha and highest order in life. For bathing in Ganga one need not observe auspicious time (Muhurat) etc., because no such rules apply for Holy Ganga.

If a person, with sincere devotion to his forefathers, bathes in Ganga and performs Abhishek of Shiv Ling with Holy Ganga Water, does a great service to his forefathers and even if they are residing in Hell (on account of their evil deeds etc.), they will be pushed to Heaven. (Abhishek means pouring of Holy water or any other ingredient like milk on Lord’s idol, Shiv Ling etc.).

Any kind of donation, alms or gifts given on the Banks of Holy Ganga will yield multiple results. If a devotee donates one cow and calf to a deserving person, he will certainly reach Heaven. Besides, during his life time, he will never face any shortage of wealth and food grains.

On the banks of River Ganga, if a devotee donates a small quantity of gold to a learned Brahmin, he will be respected and worshipped wherever he lives. In the Kashi Yatra undertaken by South Indians, a final ritual is Ganga Pooja and Dampati (married couple) Pooja. Ganga Pooja as the words imply is worship/prayers to Holy River Ganga and in Dampati Pooja, the devotee honours a married couple who have dedicated their lives to Kashi. Among other things, a small quantity of gold is donated to such couple. Bathing in Holy Ganga on the birth day will absolve the devotee of all his sins. Taking bath in the river in Vaisaka Month, Shravan Month and Kartik Month will yield multiple results.

Amavasya is indeed is a good day to bath in River Ganga –

This can be ascertained from the religious almanac (Panchang). At the time of Solar or Lunar Eclipse, if a devotee bathes in Ganga he will derive the benefits which will be One Lakh times of the normal day. In Chapter 28, Lord Skanda narrates what Lord Shiva told Lord Vishnu about the religious powers of River Ganga.

When a devotee performs rituals for his forefathers with Til (black sesame seeds), his fore fathers gently enter heaven (if they are already not there). If they are already there, they get better positions. They will stay in heaven for that many number of years, depending on the number of Til Seeds as have been used in the rituals. His forefathers may have committed so many sins which the devotee may not know, they may be facing the ordeals in various parts of Hell like Kumbi Pakam, Rauravam, Tamisram etc. But if a devotee performs their rituals in River Ganga as prescribed, they are certain to get released from the Hell and slowly but surely travel towards heaven. River Ganga is pure and carrying religious power, but her power increased in the Holy city of Kashi where she is Uttara Vahini (flowing northwards). When Ganga entered with a force in Kashi, Lord Shiva threw his Trishul (Trident) just before the entry point of Kashi, whereby the river somewhat slowed down. Ganga also promised Lord Shiva that she will always remain in Kashi and serve its denizens. Therefore, Ganga is perennial in Kashi whereas in other places, it is not so. If a person dies in Kashi he attains Moksha. If a person dies in other places, but his body is cremated in Kashi then also he attains Moksha. Similarly, a person may have died and cremated elsewhere but if his ashes and bones (Asthi) are immersed in Holy Ganga, he will reach heaven. The benefits of immersing bones and ashes in Ganges have been covered elsewhere. If a person stays far away from Kashi and desires to have the benefit of bathing in Ganga, Kashi Khand has prescribed Ganga Sahasranam. (Sahasra means thousand, nam means name). These are thousand different names by which Holy River Ganga has been eulogized. Therefore, South Indians who perform Kashi Yatra generally stay for minimum two days or even three days in Varanasi (Kashi). One ritual is Madhyannika Manikarnika Snanam (bathing in Manikarnika in the Noon) and other ritual is Pinda Daan (rituals for forefathers) in five Ghats viz. Assi, Dasaswamedh, Manikarnika, Panchganga and Varuna. While performing the Pancha Ghatta Pindam (ritual in five important Ghats), some Yatris take bath only once and in the remaining Ghats, they merely sprinkle water on their heads. The compiler appeals to all devotees, who visit Kashi for their religious rituals, to sincerely bathe in all the five Ghats and take Madhyannika Manikarnika Snanam with all divinity. At the time of performing these rituals, the compiler requests them to think of their departed father/parents (as the case may be) and forefathers.

Trilochaneshwar

Trilochan Ling finds mention in Kashi Khand as Trivishtabh Ling. In the south of Trilochan, three holy rivers Yamuna, Saraswati and Narmada joined together once. It is believed that these three rivers themselves performed abhishek of Trilochan Ling (Kashi Khand, Chapter 75). While Omkareshwar Ling attained prime importance among all Lings in Kashi, the importance of darshan of Trilochan Ling is given more prominence. Trilochan is a Swayambhu Ling and it is stated in Kashi Khand that the Ling came to the earth from seven Patal Lokas, piercing each and every layer. Trilochaneshwar Let alone having darshan, even uttering the word of Trilochan by mouth will cleanse the devotee of his sins. A person knowingly or unknowingly committing sins in any place, finds mukti in Kashi and a person committing a similar sin in Kashi finds mukti by eulogizing (praising) Trilochan Ling. (Kashi Khand, ibid). The three rivers mentioned above join together in a Teerth called Pilpila Teerth. It is believed that taking a bath in Pilpila Teerth and having darshan of Trilochan is considered very auspicious. Performing pooja/archana of Trilochan on all Ashtami and Chaturdashi days are auspicious. In Vaishaka Month (April 20-May 20) Shukla Paksha Tritheeya (third day after Amavasya), also known as Akshay Tritheeya is a very very auspicious day and people who observe vrath (fast) on that day and perform Shraadh Karma (rituals towards their forefathers) attain high level of enlightenment and obtain blessings of their ancestors and Gods. If all the Shiv Lings in the world are visualised as a human being (personified), Trilochan Ling is the Eye of the Personified structure. Local pundits believe that Trilochan Ling is the third eye of Vishweshwar Ling.

In Kashi Khand, besides Pilpila Teerth, there is mention of Padodak Koop (well). This Koop is still existing in the temple premises. Pilpila Teerth is existing in the form of Pilpila Koop very near to Trilochan temple. While the Padodak well has been kept covered, there is a pump attached to the well, with the help of which water is drawn.

Varahi Devi

Kashi Khand, Chapter 70 mentions Varahi Devi and the devotees who worship this devi will never fall into any danger. Kashi Khand, Chapter 45 states that Lord Shiva sent sixty four Yoginis to Kashi to create disturbance in the governance of King Divodas. However, the sixty four yoginis were totally enthralled by the beauty of Kashi and they decided to settle down in Kashi itself. Varahi is one of them. It is worth mentioning that Varahi is a very powerful devi. LOCATION OF VARAHI DEVI Varahi Devi is located at Manmandir Ghat. People can travel upto Dasaswamedh Vishwanath Galli by rickshaw, enter the gulli and immediately take a right turn and proceed further for about 150 yards. They may seek guidance from the locals at that place to reach the temple. Learned Pundits believe that for getting victories in competition, litigation, court cases etc., devotees ardently pray Varahi Devi.

TYPES OF POOJA The temple is open for worship from 05.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. only and remains closed for the entire day. Aarti is performed in the morning. At the time of aarti, the main door is closed. If a devotee remains inside, he can have full darshan of aarti. After the aarti, darshan is allowed for some time and the temple is closed for the day. It needs to be mentioned here that Varahi is a very powerful devi and located under the ground level. A marble slab is opened and devotees can have darshan through the opening. Except the Priest, no one is allowed to go to the underground level. Our enquiries reveal that only regular worship is allowed in the temple and no special pooja etc. on request is allowed

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