Varanasi Again – 41: The Gyanvapi Kupa

It was Krita Yuga, also known amongst the laymen as the Satayuga, or the age of truth. This was the age when man was nearest to God, and godliness, when Gods and angels, and demi-Gods walked the earth and lived amongst the ordinary mortals like normal people. Creation was young, and people honoured traditional wisdom revealed to humankind as the Vedas (revealed knowledge). This would not always remain the same. As the Yugas, the epochs, progressed there was a consistent decline in the moral standards, and spiritual stature of men and Gods alike. Krita Yuga was followed by Treta Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, and then, finally, Kali Yuga, the age of Kali, the age of decline – the age that we live in.

This is the traditional division of time in Hindu jyotish, the science of time keeping, and calendar making, and the science of planetary movement.

It was in Krita Yuga, that Shiva or Shankara, in his Rudra or angry form, roamed the lands of India. He was known as Ishana then. When he reached Kashi, the city of light, the city dedicated to the sun God, he found the self-manifested jyotirlinga there. This jyotirlinga was called the Adi Vishveshwara, or the primordial God of the world, the one who was there before anyone else. Ishana wanted to pay obeisance to this lingam, this emblem, this manifestation of the primordial God Shiva, by doing an abhishek, an anointing with holy water. Thus he hit the soft earth of Kashi with the fearsome trident, the trishula, that he carried, bringing forth water from the place where the trident struck, and turning that place into a fresh water well, or kupa. This kupa, or well, came to be known, in time, as the Gyanvapi kupa, the gyanvapi well, the well of wisdom. Its waters have been described as cool, and sweet as nectar, as honey, and have always been used for the abhishekam, the anointing of the deity who resides in the ancient shrine of Kashi Vishwanath.

This practice continued from times immemorial till the time of the Mughals, when Aurangzeb finally, and definitively, demolished the temple, and built a mosque from its remains at the site of the temple, on its very foundations, to spite the kaafirs, those who did not believe in ‘the One God’. He could not, or did not, demolish two important parts of the original temple complex which remained intact, but inaccessible to the Hindu pilgrims since they were appropriated inside the mosque premises. Recently the KV Dham Corridor project arranged for these to be incorporated in to the new temple complex, thus allowing pilgrims to see them and pay their respects. These two inalienable parts of the temple complex which, till recently, were inaccessible to the pilgrims, were the gyanvapi kupa, or well, and the statue of the Nandi bull, the leader of the ganas, the ‘people’ of Shiva.

To be continued……….

Check out these Amazon Bestsellers from the author –

The Battle of Panchavati and Other Stories from Indian Scriptures
Daffodills: A Bouquet of Short Stories

By Divya Narain

Additional Professor in Plastic Surgery, doting father, loving husband, newbie author. Love travel and literature. Love reading religion, politics and history!


  1. Beautifully written with in-depth knowledge, and knowledge is power and confidence. The belief always gets stronger with taking of the dip in such valuable history, which is Ours .

    We are and will always be proud of you Dr Divya Naryan, keep showering the richness of our culture and history, from time to time. We love your work .

    Liked by 1 person

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