The Visweswara Jyotirlinga located in the holy city of Varanasi in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is one among the 12 Jyotirlingas spread all across the country, representing the lingam form of Lord Shiva, who had appeared as a fiery column of light in all these places presently known as Jyotirlingas. The Visweswar Jyotirlinga is housed inside the popular Hindu pilgrim shrine Kashi Vishwanath Temple, which stands on the western banks of the holy river Ganga. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Lord Vishwanath here, known as the ‘’Ruler of the Universe,’’ and the holy city of Varanasi is also known by the name of Kashi, and hence, that is how the name Kashi Vishwanath Temple came to fore.
The Kashi Vishwanath Temple has undergone a long chain of demolishment and reconstruction and the last person to have demolished it was the sixth Mughal ruler, Emperor Aurangzeb, who after demolishing this holy shrine had built the Gyanvapi Mosque here. Hence, the present day Kashi Vishwanath Temple housing the Visweswar Jyotirlinga was finally constructed on the adjacent site in the year 1780 by a popular Maratha monarch from the city of Indore (which in present day is a part of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh) Ahilya Bai Holkar.
The maintenance of this holy shrine is done thoroughly by the State Government of Uttar Pradesh and just like other Jyotirlingams in the country, the popular Hindu festival of Mahashivaratri here too is celebrated in grand style with full spirits. However, the first person to get inside the temple sanctorum is only the official priest, known as the Kashi Naresh (Chief of Kashi), and nobody else is given the consent to get inside the temple premises until the Kashi Naresh finishes his religious rituals. Once that’s done, the celebrations begin in full swing and all the devotees celebrate the occasion of Shivaratri as well as Gauna: a ritual that is linked with consummation of marriage, that had happened between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati on the day of their marriage, which too had taken place on the eve of Mahashivaratri.
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