Vishwanath Gali – The Serpent Around Shiva
Vishwanath Gali is one of the oldest and busiest streets in Varanasi, India. Running from the Gyanvapi chowk to the Dashaswamedh Ghat it is roughly over 300 Meters long. From being home to one of the most important Hindu temples Kashi Vishwanath, it is also a famous shopping destination.
The history of the Vishwanath Gali goes back to 1780 when Ahilya Bai of Indore reconstructed the Vishwanath Temple which was demolished by Aurangzeb. It is when the pilgrims starting visiting again and the temple rejuvenated. Locals from around the areas started putting up stalls near the temple to sell goods and services which later turned into a market.
Soon, businessmen and riches from Marwar, Bihar and south India started building guest houses around the temple. This unruly development of the area gave birth to the serpent-like Vishwanath Gali which looks nothing less than a serpent around the neck of Shiva.
Today, Vishwanath Gali remains busy all day long throughout the year. The never-ending line of Devotees is a common site as they wait for their turn to enter the temple. The line which on some occasions is miles long just to have a glimpse of Vishwanath Shivling.
The area near the Temple’s entry is occupied by shopkeepers selling flowers and offerings for the deities. These shops also provide lockers to keep your belongings like mobile, music player, camera or any electronic device which are not allowed inside the temple.
Many shopkeepers will try to trick you into buying things from them but in a very friendly manner. Most of them will ask you to deposit your shoes/bags/mobile as they are not allowed any further and then they will sell you flowers and offerings. Lockers are complimentary if you purchase something or else you have to pay.
Rest of the street is full of the shops selling silk sarees, beauty products, ornaments, idols, wooden toys and regional products. Vishwanath Gali is a favourite shopping destination for locals and the tourists visiting Varanasi. People often buy Silk Sarees, stone idols and Banarasi Wooden toys as they are famous all over the world and make a great souvenir. Be it a kid or an adult one can find things for any age group.
This few meters long street is full of varieties items and commodities. Shopkeepers generally pitch higher price to the tourists some time doubles the real price of the goods! But if you know how to bargain then you can get some great deals here. 🙂
Today with the presence of Kashi Vishwanath temple and Gyan Vyapi Mosque this street is one of the most important religious sites in entire India. After the terrorist attacks in 2010, this street including many other prominent sites in Varanasi was added to sensitive zones. The street is heavily guarded now and it is one of the most secure places in the city.
How to Reach Vishwanath Gali
Vishwanath Gali is located near Vishwanath temple and it runs from Gyanvapi to Dashaswamedh Ghat. It is well connected to all the Railways stations, Airport and the bus stand via road. You can reach here by taking a shared auto rickshaw/ Tuk Tuk to Gyanvapi chowk or Gowdalia Chowk. You can also take a boat from any ghats to the Dashaswamedh Ghat which is just 3 minutes away from the street.
What to See/Nearby Places
- Vishwanath Temple
- Kashi Karvat / Suicide Temple
- Kachori Gali and Khoya Gali
- Kashi Raj Kali Temple
- Godwalia Market
Lalita Ghat, Meer Ghat, Man Mandir Ghat, Dashaswamedh Ghat