When enters through the compound gates from the bustling streets of Bansphatak, and walks a few steps forward to then turn left, they will be greeted by open space, and along with that, a finely carved stone temple set at the centre of a stone platform. A flight of stone stairs rises from the ground level, to then lead the visitor up to the temple. The Kashiraj Kali temple
is located on the busy Bansphatak road near Gowdalia chowk, Varanasi. It is probably the most easily accessible but the toughest to be located place in the Varanasi.
Most who have been to this stunning temple have had no previous idea about it, as they only entered it out of pure curiosity, due to it not being famous as the other temples in Varanasi. But those who have been here, have described this place as an oasis of peace in the heart chaos. And that is what it truly is. This is the king’s very own property Kashi Raj Kali temple or the secret temple of Varanasi.
History | This 200-hundred-year-old property which was built by the Kashi Naresh served as a private temple for the royal family. The extensively craved gate of the complex is a clear example of the architectural mastery of that time.
When first looked at, the temple actually looks like an ancient house, but once you enter the vicinity, you realize that it is 100% more than that. The closer you will get to it, the more you look at it, you will keep find it keeps getting more interesting. From the symmetrical design to details of the craving, everything looks so perfect and royal, it gets hard to imagine how they actually carved it out without any of the modern tools. This temple is a specimen of the developed stonework in India.
Architecture | We can assure you, that the architecture of this temple is anything but ordinary. Words will not able to describe just how exquisite it is. The developed art of stone work can be seen in the patterns on the walls and the screens over the arches.
The parapet on the roof over the pavilion, along with the chajja all around, are both crafted with care and are aesthetically pleasing. The entire temple actually, is epitome of aesthetics on a whole new level. The petals, bells and rings chiselled out of stone are definite proofs of the highly developed art of stone work in India. The pictures will give you a rough idea of how stunning the place actually is.
Legend | According to the locals, the temple you see is actually a fake one, hiding the real one behind it. There are many legends related to it but very less to as good as no historical records. It is believed that whenever masons tried to add a floor/dome to the original temple, the walls sunk into the ground. They tried to add a dome to the temple several times, but failed. Hence, it was decided to leave it as it is, and build another temple right in front of it.
Another theory says that the king wanted to hide the real temple from the invaders to secure the Shivling. So, he decided to keep the real Shivling in a small room, and built an extensive piece of art right in front of it.
Anyone who visits the vicinity, hardly every pays any attention to the other temple, as they get preoccupied with checking the aesthetics of the other one. The small white temple behind it is called the Gautameshwar temple.
If it is actually true that the king wanted to keep the temple secretive, then he did it so well that even after being on the busiest street of the entire Varanasi, most don’t have a clue of its existence. As a result, it sees very less to no crowds, and is peaceful all year round! There used to be a commercial set up around the pathway back in the day too, but it has now expanded. Although the temple is the property of the then King of Kasi, many people use the premises in an unauthorized way today.