Location of Durga Temple
Durga Temple is located about 2 km from Varanasi. Varanasi is a famous pilgrimage centre.
Dedication of Durga Temple
Durga Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga.
History of Durga Temple
Durga Temple was built in the eighteenth century by a Bengali Maharani, Rani Bhawani. The temple is now under the control of royal family of Varanasi. Durga Temple represents the Nagara style of architecture.
Mythological History of Durga Temple
According to the legend of Durga Temple, there was once a demon named Durg who tortured and afflicted the people with pain and agony. The Goddess Durga was requested by the gods to relieve them of the distress. The goddess Durga thus fought a fierce battle with the demon and finally slayed him.
Structure of Durga Temple
The architecture and structure of Durga Temple is imposing and offers a spiritual ambiance to the environment. The residing deity of the temple, Goddess Durga, the wife of Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Shakti, signifying the female element of Power and harmony in nature. It is believed by the devotees that the deity looks after the whole of Varanasi from the south. She is considered as one of the fierce goddess guardians of the sacred zone. According to legends, the present statue of Goddess Durga was not made by man but appeared on its own in the temple.
Architecture of Durga Temple
Durga temple is stained in red with ochre. Though a Bengali Maharani built this temple, it does not boast the Bengali influence spiritually. It is exclusively built on the North Indian pattern called Nagara. There are multi-tiered spires placed in horizontal pattern and is entirely different from the traditional temple style. Separate spires are clubbed together to give the effective style. This style is apparently less attractive than the South Indian Gopuram. This temple has been 'Monkey Temple' as lots of monkeys create menaces and also inhabit the temple. The Durga temple is situated on a rectangular tank, called the Durga Kund that is located in the vicinity. The Ghat was built in 1772 by a saintly person known as Narayana Diksit. It is one of the most well known Ghats in Varanasi. A small temple dedicated to Kharva Narsimha is also situated nearby.
Deities in Durga Temple
Durga temple is situated in the midst of a quadrangle that is surrounded by high walls. The entrance of the temple is on the western side. A building known as Naubat-khana exists in front of the doorway. Two sculptured lions can be seen inside the interior of the enclosure. These have been carved on either side of the pathway, with their faces directed towards the main entrance to the temple. Two other shrines can be seen with idols of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva. The idol of Ganesha is made of bass-relief while the idol of Shiva is made of white marble. A small sculpture of a bull is also carved here. Another shrine is located on the right side dedicated to Lord Shiva. A broad path runs between the platform and the temple. A bell can be seen suspended from the arch decorated with stone scaffolding on the southern side of the path. It was a gift from a Raja of Nepal. On either side of the arch is a small figure of a lion. Although the temple and the porch are united together forming one edifice they are actually two distinct buildings. They have been erected at two different periods.
Porch in Durga Temple
The porch in Durga Temple of Varanasi was erected by a Subahdar, or superior commissioned native officer. The porch stands upon twelve elaborately-carved pillars that look very appealing. Their base rests upon a floor raised about four feet from the ground. These are surmounted by a dome, with cupolas at each corner. The dome in the inner side is decorated with a variety of colours. However, the paintings are now in dilapidated state. A large bell can be seen hanging from the centre of the dome. It is said to have been gifted by a European magistrate of Mirzapur, about forty years ago. Over the outer arch are figures of men, in bass-relief. They are seated on a bird, and holding a kind of guitar in his hands. The second or the inner arch has figures of Durga and other deities. Figures of men riding on lions can be seen carved upon the face of the outer arch. Images of Lord Ganesha and two other women can be seen on the inner side. Another small shrine can be seen in the interior of the building. It is the abode of the goddess. The idol of the deity is covered with tinseled cloth. The face is of metal. It is also decorated with a garland and also with several necklaces of gold coins hanging till the chest. A small lamp burns always keeps burning.
The devotees from different places of India visit Durga Temple to offer their prayers at the feet of the deity, as Varanasi is connected with all the major cities and the states of India. Durga Temple is also thronged on auspicious occasions like Navaratri and others.