One of the most popular attractions in Varanasi, the Vishwanath Mandir, also known as Kashi Vishwanath Temple, is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding god of the city. Also referred to as the golden temple, due to its gold-plating, this temple holds a very special place among Hindu devotees. Given its present shape in 1780 by queen Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore, the temple's iconic 15.5-metre-high gold spire and gold dome were donated by Ranjeet Singh, the ruler of Punjab in 1839. The temple is ensconced within a maze of other shrines and narrow galis or walkways lined by shops selling sweetmeats, paan (betel leaf), handicrafts and other knick-knacks. The time for darshan (general visit) is from 4 am to 11 pm. Adjacent to the temple are Annapurna Temple dedicated to the goddess of food and Dundiraj Vinayak dedicated to Lord Ganesha, which are equally revered. The temple is located on the banks of River Ganges and the jyotirlinga (devotional shrine of Lord Shiva) present here is believed to be the 12th jyotirlinga. The temple campus also has a well called Jnana Vapi or wisdom well. Many believe that the jyotirlinga was kept in the well to protect it and the main saint of the temple jumped into the well to keep it from intruders. The temple finds immense significance in Hindu mythology as many great saints from the religion are believed to have visited this site to get the darshan of the jyotirlinga and to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganga.

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