The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Annapurna temple
25º 18.634’N and 83º 00.576’E
Exact location on a map
Annapurna Gali, Jnanavapi near Vishvanatha T., House No. D 8/ 38
During the 7th-9th century Bhavani was the main goddess, and her seat was one of the most important spots of worship. She was described as the liquid energy of the patron deity Vishvanatha in the Kashi Khanda, KKh (61.130), 132, a 14th-15th century text. She was also eulogised as Maha Gauri. According to another description (cf. Kashi Rahasya, KR, 16.10; and 20.102a), she also represents Annapurna. The Tristhalisetu (CE 1585) eulogised Annapurna and Bhavani as the same goddess. It is obvious from the Puranic description that Annapura was very popular and worshipped by different names. In course of Mughal invasion and destruction by the order of Mughal emperor Aurangazeb this temple was also destroyed along with others.
The present temple of Annapurna (“goddess of plenitude of food”) was built in 1725 by Balaji Bajirao Peshva. She is known as the female force of Bhava, “Being”, one of the names of Shiva. She is called the “Mother of the Three Worlds”, and she promises to those who come to her what only a mother can give, naturally and freely: food. The great festivals associated with the goddess relate with her with production of cereal grains (anna). Annakuta (the “Food Mountain”) festival falls on the first day of the waxing fortnight of autumn month of Karttika (October-November). During the second festival in Margashirsha (November-December), Annapurna is decorated with green sprouts of paddy and the same is given as blessed-food.
=== Description ===: Standing in the court of the compound is the temple itself, a small sanctum with a large pillared porch. Inside the temple there are images of Mahagauri (Great White Goddess), Ganesha, Gauri Shankara and Hanuman. The temple possesses a tower, and also a dome, carved and ornamented in Hindu style. The present image of Annapurna within the sanctum is a new one, established and consecrated in January 1977 in a series of prana-pratishta, “breath-transfer”, rites conducted by the Shankaracharya of Shringeri. The famous novelist (late) Raja Rao (1968: 26) prays the Annapurna:
- O Thou who hast clothed Thyself in cloth of gold,
- Decked in ornaments made of many and varied gems;
- Whose breasts rounded like a water-jar?
- Are resplendent with their necklace of pearls;
- Whose beauty is enhanced by the fragrance of the Kashmir aloe?
- O Devi who president over the city of Kashi,
- O vessel of mercy, grant me aid.
Present state of conservation
There is no such specific organisation to take care of preservation and conservation, except the temple trust which look after all the aspects, from management to maintenance.
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.
The temple is administered and managed by the temple trust.