Enlightenment, and the death which comes before it, is the primary business of Varanasi. – Tahir Shah
Folklores, Mysteries, Magic, History and Legends. If you will start exploring the Varanasi and dig deeper in its alley you will stumble upon a lot of strange things which will make you question everything you have heard, read and known about the Kashi. Such is the history of one small suicide temple located in the heart of Varanasi.
Just a few meters away from the famous Blue Lassi shop and Kashi Vishwanath Temple is located an ancient shiva temple called “Kashi Karvat Mandir“. The small gate painted in bright maroon and yellow colors has a plaque card on it which says that only the followers of Sanatan Dharma are allowed to enter.
Its a small peaceful temple which is only visited by locals. The interior is renovated with tiles and the temple looks like a new addition to Varanasi. Inside the temple there is a small opening in the ground from where you can see the Shivalinga at basement. This basement is said to be the original level of Varanasi before the Ghats came into existence. The Kashi Karvat temple even though looks newly built but surprisingly it has mentions in Puranas.
The opening in ground from where you can see the Shivling, It is said that in a less corrupt age a karvat, or saw, was suspended from the roof of the shrine and would spontaneously fall on those on whom Shiva chose to bestow his blessing. As the suicide is not permitted in Hinduism so this act was arranged by the help of the priest.
Gradually the practise got banned and later the saw was removed to kept below the room. Before British times, people used to come and throw themselves down the hole and onto the blade, thus killing themselves. Believing that they would go straight to heaven.
There are also many stories which claim that later priests started scamming pilgrims and throwing them off on the blade to loot the valuables. The bodies were later disposed off into the Ganges by a secret canal located in the basement. The access to the basement is now limited to the priest and their families who have been taking care of it from last 25 generations and the Karvat was taken to Britain by britishers.
Today, if you will ask for the directions to Kashi Karvat temple most of the people will direct you to the Ratneshwar Mahadev temple(leaning temple) located at Scindia Ghat. To reach the original temple or the suicide temple you can check the location marked in the map below.