THERE ARE COUNTLESS TEMPLES IN VARANASI ,the holy city of Hindus. There is a story behind every temple, there is some belief behind the construction of every temple.
THE CONSTRUCTION OF TEMPLES IN VARANASI IS A CONTINUOUS PROCESS.
As soon as Varanasi got freed from the clutches of the Mughal Empire, construction of temples took place on a large scale. Many temples were built and renovated, in Varanasi by the Maratha rulers.
Kolkata emerged as a major trading city under the British rule, during this time many temples were built in Varanasi by the wealthy people of Kolkata. During that time a major temple built and renovated in Varanasi was Durgakund Temple.
Even today this temple is counted among the most prominent temples of Varanasi.
DURGA TEMPLE AND DURGA KUND
This magnificent temple made of red stones has a square shaped pond next to it. This pond is a part of Durga temple itself. Because of being a part of Durga temple, this pond is known as Durgakund. Kund :- (Generally) A square shaped pond.
HISTORY OF DURGAKUND TEPLE
Undoubtedly it is one of the oldest temples of Varanasi. The mention of this temple is also found in Kashi Khand. It is believed that in ancient times the holy Ganges water used to come into the pond through a special drainage system in Durgakund.
Note: – This seems quite possible because in the famous Vishwanath temple of Varanasi the Shiva Linga was located in a small pond and in this pond the holy water of Ganga used to come into the pond through a special drainage system. This is described by James Prinsep in his book ~ Benares Illustrated.
STORY ABOUT THE TEMPLE’S ORIGIN
According to a story in Chapter 23 of Devi Bhagavata Purana, once upon a time in Varanasi there was a king named Subahu. King Subahu had a daughter. Her name was Shashikala.
When Shashikala became mature enough, his father King Subahu of Kashi eventually decided to organize a swayamvara for her marriage. Svayamvara was a system of marriage of princesses in ancient India. In which princesses themselves chose a man as her husband from a group of suitors. The men in the group were generally Princes and Kings. The meaning is self-evident from the word itself, svayam in Sanskrit means ‘self’ and vara means ‘groom’.
Kashi Naresh King Subahu later came to know that his daughter was in love with a forest resident prince Sudarshan, so instead of organizing a swayamvara, the king married her to Sudarshan as per the daughter’s wish.
When getting to know about the marriage, all the kings invited to the swayamvara got angry. They formed a united army and attacked the king of Kashi. When the King of Kashi(King Subahu) and Sudarshan prayed to Goddess Durga, she fought on behalf of the King of Kashi in the war. Goddess Durga defeated all the kings by her might. Thereafter, to express his gratitude to Goddess Durga, King Subahu got this temple constructed at this place.
There is another story regarding this.
According to the legend that after killing Shumbha-Nishumbha, Goddess Durga rested at this place after getting tired. Later, a temple was built by the king of Banaras in memory of the incident of Goddess Durga resting at this place.
How Durga Temple became famous as the Monkey Temple
The western media used to publish sensational news about India’s unique temples in great detail.
Western newspapers had published many pictures and articles about the large number of monkeys in this temple, due to similar reports, this temple also got the name of Monkey Temple.
The number of monkeys in the temple has reduced a lot, but still, this temple remains famous as the Monkey Temple among the foreign tourists.
MONKEYS OF DURGA TEMPLE AND SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
This incident dates back to 1888 AD. In those days there was a big outbreak of monkeys in and around the temple.
How is Swami Vivekananda’s birth related to Varanasi ??
Go read this blog post of mine to figure out-: https://nithinks.com/2022/01/11/vivekanandas-three-stories-that-can-change-your-life/
Swami Vivekananda was returning after having darshan from Durga temple. Suddenly a herd of monkeys started chasing him. Swami Vivekananda started walking faster, but the herd of monkeys did not give up on him. Swamiji almost started running after getting frightened by the herd of monkeys suddenly an old saint appeared.
He called out to Swami Vivekananda ‘Stop! Face the brutes!’ Swami Vivekananda stopped. He turned round and faced the monkeys. At once, they ran away. Swamiji also mentioned this story in his New York lecture.
Note :- Devotees used to give food items to these monkeys in the temple and due to this habit, they might have started chasing Swami Vivekananda in the hope of getting food items from him too.
This incident was small, but it brought a new twist in Swamiji’s life. Swamiji realized that he must not run away from adversity but face it firmly. As long as we keep running away from adversity, it keeps running towards us. But when we decide to stop fearing and face the problems firmly, then all the problems disappear.
DURGA TEMPLE AT PRESENT
The present-day building of Durga Temple was renovated by Maharani Bhavani Devi of Natori of Bengal province in 1760 AD. This temple is built in Nagara style. This is the most prominent style of construction of temples in North India.
@ Here in the place of the idol, THE MASK(MUKHDA) AND FOOTWEAR (CHARAN-PAADUKA) of the Mother Goddess are worshipped.
@ The red color of the temple depicts the incident of the KILLINGS OF KINGS who dared to face the mighty power of Maa Durga.
@ Although devotees visit this temple throughout the year but on the FOURTH DAY OF NAVRATRI, a huge crowd gathers for the darshan and worship.
@ The idols ofBaba Bhaironath, Lakshmiji, Saraswatiji, and Mata Kali are installed in separate temples near the temple.
@ There is a huge Havan Kund inside the temple, where daily Havans are held.
A month-long fair is held in the month of Savan, this fair is one of the major fairs of Varanasi.