Varanasi is one place, which has always emphasised on the value of education and this post would be incomplete without the mention of the famed Banaras Hindu University. With the credit of being the largest residential university in Asia, with over 35,000 students, this university is on the list of Institutes of National Importance. The campus also houses a beautiful Vishwanath Mandir.
There are uncountable temples, mosques and places of religious importance in Varanasi.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple:
Honored as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, this temple dates back to 15th century. The original temple was re-built, then destroyed and re-built. Mughal Emperor Akbar gave consent to build the original temple, which was later ruined by Aurangazeb and re-built by Ahilya Bai Holkar. Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Indore donated almost a ton of gold to ensure that the towers of the Kashi Vishwanath temple are gold-plated. The idol of Shiva was hidden in a well to guard it from Aurangzeb’s demolition. The well still stands there amid the mosque and the temple.54
The mention of Kashi Vishwanath and Gyanvapi mosque comes hand in hand. Built by Aurangzeb in the heart of the city, the mosque stands on the original site of the temple. The remains of the Hindu temple can be seen on the walls of the mosque. Border Security forces are always present in the premises of mosque and the temple as Varanasi has suffered many riots in the earlier days.
Purono Durga Bari at Bangali Tola:
History suggests that in the year 1767, when after the Durga Puja, men were trying to move the idol for immersion, it did not move. The head of the Mukherjee family dreamt of the Goddess and learnt from her, that she wanted to stay in Varanasi. Since then, the temple is present in the Mujherjee house near present day Madanpura. Chana and jaggery are offered to the Goddess and lighting of candles or incense sticks is not allowed.
Constructed in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani, this red temple is also called as the ‘Monkey temple’. The kund (pond) besides the temple was linked to Ganges earlier. It is trusted that the idol had emerged on its own.