The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Kala Bhairava

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Detailed description of each heritage Site - Durga Ghat to Phuta Ghat


Kala Bhairava temple

1.Name : Kala Bhairava temple

Location[edit]

25º 19.051’ North and 83º 00.872’ East.

Exact location on a map[edit]

Kala Bhairava, K 32/ 22

Area[edit]

16m x 25m = 400 sq.m., i.e. 0.04ha

Historical/cultural/natural significance[edit]

This temple is an example of spatial manifestation of the ancient temple of Kala Bhairava. The partially destroyed image of Dandapani (“a pillar of punishment”) has later been re-established in the back of this temple, and given a name called “Kshetrapala Bhairava”, the ‘Bhairava protecting the territory’ (house no. K 32/ 26). In this area there are also shrines and images of Kaleshvara and Mahakala, both representing the “death”. Altogether this area symbolises the sacral power of death as controlled by Shiva. That’s how the city is called as “City of Good Death”. Although this temple is popular and beloved among those who live under its influence in the surrounding Kotwalpuri section of the city, it is not a mandatory stop for pilgrims today. 6.Authenticity (as according to article 24 to 34 of operational guidelines): Only the silver face of Kala Bhairava, garlanded with flowers, is visible through the doorways of the inner sanctum. Making a circumambulation of the temple compound, one find an array of subsidiary shrines - to Devi, to Hanuman, to Krishna and Radha, to Parvati and Ganesha. Most interesting is a large slab of the “Nine Planets” (navagrahas) upon which each of the planetary houses of the zodiac has its individual representation and altar. Bhairava is honoured for protection, health, and well being --- but not for liberation. === Description ===: The temple is situated close to the Town Hall. Kala Bhairava is popularly perceived as the “divine police chief” of Kashi and represents the “frightful form” of Lord Shiva. Kala means both Death and Fate, in addition to meaning Black. He is the Black One, who has also assumed the duties of the God of Death in Kashi. Death, it is said, is afraid of Kala Bhairava. He bears a garland of skulls and carries a club of peacock feathers. Shiva appointed Bhairava to be the chief officer of justice within the sacred city.

History and development[edit]

The mythology of the terrible form of Shiva, called Bhairava, goes back to 6th -7th century. During the era of first destruction in late 12th century many of the temples were lost, and later on reconstructed at the sites recording historical and mythological connection befitting to the myth of the image lost. On the similar lines when temple of Bhairava was lost, at the site of Bhairaveshvara the temple of Kala Bhairava was built. The Maratha king Bajirao Peshva-II built the present structure in 1817; this is noted in the stone inscription on the backside wall of inner courtyard.

Present state of conservation[edit]

There is no such specific organisation to take care of preservation and conservation.

Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property[edit]

No specific measures are taken to conserve and preserve the temple, however cleanliness, repairing and white washing are carried at regular basis by the temple trust and the priests involved in the services.

Ownership[edit]

The temple is administered and managed by the temple trust, consisting of members from the priest families and the senior citizens of Varanasi.