The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Adi Vishvanatha, Vishvanatha, Vishalakshi Kshetra
25º 18.590’ to 25º 00.684’ No & 83º 00.546’ to 83º 00.750’ E.
Exact location on a map
Area demarcated by Vishalakshi (25º 18.591’N and 83º 00.746’E) and Dharmakupa (25º 18.602’N and 83º 00.728’E) in the southeast, Kalika (25º 18.582’N and 83º 00.627’E) in south, Bhavanishankar (25º 18.635’N and 83º 00.549’E) in the southwest, Dhundhiraja (25º 18.644’N and 83º 00.572’E) and Dandapani (25º 18.669’N and 83º 00.576’E) in the west, Adi Vishvanatha (25º 18.683’N and 83º 00.546’E) in the northwest, and Nilakantha-Darbhanga (25º 18.681’N and 83º 00.749’E) temple in the northeast, mark the square-shaped core area of Kashi/ Varanasi. In the central area Vishveshvara/ Vishvanatha (25º 18.637’N and 83º 00.594’E) stands as patron deity. This area also consists of famous temples of Annapurna (25º 18.634’N and 83º 00.576’E), Avimukteshvara (25º 18.681’N and 83º 00.604’E), and Langlishvara (25º 18.684’N and 83º 00.613’E).
(in ha.) of proposed buffer zone: 230m x 240m, i.e. 5.52ha.
The edges linking Vishalakshi Devi in south, Jnaneshvara in northeast Jnanavapi in the west form a triangle called as “Nabhi kshetra” (navel territory) of Kashi. There are about thirty shrines and temples of historically importance as eulogised in the Puranic literature, especially the Kashi Khanda of the Skanda Purana, dated ca 14th century. The patron deity of the city is Vishvanatha whose temple is the nucleus (navel) in this area. This is one of the 12 Jyotira Lingam located all over India. The Jnanavapi is symbolised as the pool (well) of the first primordial water on the earth. All the pilgrimage journeys (i.e. about 52) start and concluded at this site by taking vow and by getting release of the vow. In whole of India, thus this is the “navel” of the cosmic mandala of the whole India. === Description ===: The area was famous in puranic mythology, which always referred Jnanavapi as the symbol of the primordial water from where the life began. The folk tales say that after the destruction of Vishvanatha temple in 1669 in the Jnanavapi Kupa the Lord had taken refuge and since then resides there. The king of Darbhanga (Bihar) built the temple of Nilakantheshvara in 1915; this is another grandeur of the temple architecture. Entering near the compound of Jnanavapi mosque, one meets the Dhundhiraj Gali, a typical and unique bazaar that preserved the scene of the late medieval period. In the lane are the shrines of Markandeshvara Shiva, Dandapani Bhairava, Ganapati Ganesha, and at the crossing Dhundhiraj Ganesha in the left. By following the straight the lane enters to Vishvanath Gali. This represents the Banarasi culture and shops related to it. A proverb says ‘Whatever one want to purchase, one can get here’. Halfway on the right there is a shrine of the Sakshi (“witness”) Vinayaka built in 1770, a transformed form of old Yaksha Vinayaka re-established here.
Present state of conservation
There is no such specific organisation to take care of preservation and conservation, except the temple trust, “Sri Vishvanatha Temple Trust (Nyasa)” which look after all the aspects, from management to maintenance, and whose chairman is the Commissioner of Varanasi.
Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property
No specific measures are taken to conserve and preserve the temple, however cleanliness, repairing and white washing are carried at regular basis by the trusts and the local people.
The temples are administered and managed by the individual registered temple trusts.