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cultural heritage varanasi logo
Notable Temples of Varansi

Vishalakshi Temple

Rana P.B. Singh & Pravin S. Rana
Fig.1. Dharmakupa, near Vishalakshi temple (after and @ the authors).
Fig.1. Dharmakupa, near Vishalakshi temple (after and @ the authors).

One can reach the temple by following the Godaulia-Chauk road, then turning to the right from Bansphatak towards the Ganga, and walking through a narrow lane. Not far from Vishvanatha toward the Ganga river is the “Wide-Eyed goddess”, Vishalakhsi. She is one among the 51 Shakti Pithas, the sacred sites associated with the body parts of Shiva’s wife, Sati, which fell when the grieving Shiva danced wildly through the country carrying her corpse. In the next life Sati was reborn as the goddess Parvati. Taken as a whole, these pithas comprise the full body of the Goddess. According to the Puranas, it was her eye (aksh) that fell here. There are two other goddess sites in India associated with the symbolic eye: one is Kamakshi, the “Love-Eyed” goddess at Kanchi in Tamil Nadu (South India) and also at Kamaksha in Guwahati, Assam (northeast), and Minakshi, the “Fish-Eyed” goddess from Madurai in the south.

The temple of Vishalakshi has strong connection with people from Tamil Nadu who patronised the renovation of the temple in 1971. Says the Kashi Khanda (70. 17) “Worshipped, heard or seen in Kashi, Vishalakshi fulfils the desires of women and men desirous of the greatest liberation”. Her annual ritualised decoration (shringara) and day of special festivity is the third day of the waning fortnight in Bhadrapada (August-September). This festival is called “Kajali Tij”, “the Black Third”. On this day devotees also celebrate in the nearby temple of another goddess, Vindhyavasini, “Dweller in the Vindhya Mountain”.

Coming out from the Vishalakshi temple on the left one finds a gate to the campus of the Dharmakupa, “Well of Dharma”, surrounded by shrines and shaded banyan and fig trees (Fig.1. ). There is the Shiva temple of Dharmesha, where the Lord of Death, called Yamaraja or Dharmaraja, received his jurisdiction over the fate of the dead, a power he wields everywhere on earth except in Kashi. Here also is the lingam established by the mythical king Divodasa before he finally left Kashi.


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