One of the most unusual temples of Varanasi is the Pita Maheshwar Mandir located in Sheetla Gali. As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to Parama Pita Maheshwar Mahadev, the Father of Lord Shiva! As astounding as it sounds, this temple has been described in detail in the Kashi Khanda of the Skanda Purana as one of the rarest and most important Shiva Lingas in Varanasi.
According to the Hindu scriptures, when the Supreme Being manifested as the Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga, the ancient city of Benares and Ganga River were yet to come into existence. The gods and goddesses descended upon this divine place to have darshan of Baba Vishwanath but were disappointed on not finding their Supreme Father consecrated in this sacred place.
They all prayed to the Supreme Energy and invoked Parama Pita. It is said that Parama Pita on hearing the prayers of the devathas left Gaya to take his place in Kashi as a Swayambhu Shiva Linga. Locals say that this temple and the Siddeshwari Mata Temple are probably as ancient as the Kashi Vishwanath Temple and have remained largely in obscurity.
Interestingly, Parama Pita Maheshwar Mahadev is seated 30 feet below the ground. This temple is open to the public only on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri and remains closed to all even during the month of Shravan. The devotees can have darshan of Parama Pita through a hole that is on the street level.
Jal abhishek, bilva archana and other offerings are made by the pious through this hole only. The priest in charge of this temple says that the markings and impressions on the walls of the temple are indicative of its antiquity. As this temple is 30 feet below the ground, the sanctum sanctorum is always cold. The path leading to the temple is treacherous and therefore, devotees are allowed into the shrine only once in a year.
The Panchamukhi Sheshanaga seen over Parama Pita has been mentioned in the Kashi Khanda. Locals say that thousands of people offer prayers during Pithru Paksha to rid themselves of Pithru dosha.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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