Kashi has many Yatras. I have already written about the Nava Durga Yatra in Kashi that is done during the Navaratas in Kashi. Nava Gauri Yatra is another Devi Yatra in Varanasi that takes you through nine Gauri temples across the city.
This yatra is also prescribed in the Kashi Khand of Skanda Puran’s 100th Chapter. Some of Devis are also mentioned in detail in other chapters.
What is Nava Gauri Yatra?
Nava Gauri Yatra is a yatra through nine different Gauri temples in Varanasi. These are nine different manifestations of Shakti as Gauri.
All these temples are small, sometimes a part of a bigger temple. Each of them is ancient in its essence even if it is not in its original place. For some the place itself becomes the representation of Devi as we will see.
A board at the first Gauri temple tells the names and locations of all the temples. The order to visit the temples is also the same.
When to do Nava Gauri Yatra in Kashi?
It is recommended to be done Shukla Tritiya or the third day of the bright fortnight. This means you can do this Yatra 12 times in a year for the best benefits of it.
This is also done on the nine days of the Vasanta or Chaitra Navaratri that falls in Mar/Apr.
Nine Gauri Temples of Varanasi
Mukhnirmalika or Sukhnirvanika Gauri
Gai Ghat Hanuman Temple Premises
This is the first Gauri to be visited. The name mentioned in Skanda Puran is Sukh Nirwanika Devi, but today in Kashi she is better known as Mukh Nirmalika Devi.
It is recommended that you take bath in Gopreksha Tirtha and then visit Mukhnirmalika Gauri. This Tirtha is located within Ganga at Gai Ghat, so essentially you take a dip in Ganga at Gai Ghat.
Her annual festival is celebrated on Chaitra Purnima that falls in March/April. She is also visited on the first day of Chaitra Navaratri.
It is a small temple that you can easily approach from Gau Ghat. The temple also has lot of other temples within it. It is more popularly known for the Dakshinamukhi Hanuman temple. There are also Saptamatrikas and Sheetala Mata in the temple complex.
I visited it early morning when the morning Arti was going. There was no one else in the temple. It was like having the mother all to myself.
2. Jyeshtha Gauri
Maidagin, near Kashi Devi Temple
Special Day – Jyeshtha Shukla Ashtami or the 8th day of bright fortnight of Jyeshtha month that falls in May/June. She is also worshipped during Chaitra or Vasanta Navaratri.
Jyeshtha is the elder sister of Lakshmi. It is said that they both come together but people want to see Lakshmi coming and Jyeshtha going as she sometimes represents the opposite of Lakshmi. She is also called Alakshmi for same reason.
At Kashi, they say that those who consider themselves unfortunate, become fortunate after worshipping her.
3. Saubhagya Gauri
Adi Vishwanath Gali, Bans Fatak.
It is recommended that Saubhagya Gauri should be visited after taking a dip in the Gyaan Vaapi. It is not a possibility as of now. You can always take a dip in Ganga as an alternative.
Worshipping Saubhagya Gauri, as the name indicates, brings in Saubhagya or the good fortune. You can visit her on 3rd Navaratra in Chaitra.
4. Shringar Gauri
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
She is also worshipped after taking a dip in Gyan Vaapi. Her temple was located right behind the Gyan Vapi mosque. The temple is more or less non-existent, but the place it was is still identified as the place of Shringar Gauri.
She was traditionally visited on 4th day of Chaitra Navaratra.
5. Vishalakshi Gauri
Take a dip in Ganga and then visit the Vishalakshi Shaktipeetha in Kashi. Skanda Purana mentions Vishala Ghat or Vishala Tirtha which is located in Ganga only. but I think now it is closer to Mir Ghat.
It is a small temple that is mostly visited by the South Indians. The believe she is a part of the triad – Madurai Meenakshi, Kanchi Kamakshi and Kashi Vishalakshi. You can also see Vishwa Bhuja Devi temple closeby which is a part of many small temples.
I try and do some chanting here every time I visit this temple.
Look closely to the Murti, there are two of them. The old one is called Adi Vishalakshi and is behind the new one which is more visible.
Next to the Vishalakshi is a Shiva temple in a larger room. You will see many people sitting in this room engrossed in their Sadhna. It is an experience to be a part of a Sadhna that is as much personal as it is collective.
During Navaratra she can be visited on the 5th day or as part of the Shukla Tritiya Yatra on the same day along with other Devis.
6. Lalita Gauri
Take a dip in Lalita Tirtha at Lalita Ghat and visit Ma Lalita Gauri. It is located close to the famous Dashashwamedha ghat in Varanasi. The popular Nepali Pasupatinath Mandir is also located closeby.
He special day is Ashwin Krishna Dwiteeya, besides the Navaratras when all Devis are visited by the devotees.
You can sit at this small temple overlooking the Ganga. If you are sensitive enough, you will feel the floe of energy here and it is up to you to take as much as you can.
7. Bhavani Gauri
Take a dip in Bhavani Tirtha before visiting Bhavani is what the Skanda Purana mentions. I assume the Tirtha is a part of Ganga.
This temple is located in the Annapurna temple complex. You can ask anyone for Bhavani Murti in the temple. No photography is allowed here.
8. Mangala Gauri
It is believed that the Murti of Mangala Gauri was installed by Surya Deva himself. As the name suggests, she is Mangala or the auspiciousness personified. Many unmarried girls who want to be married, visit her to ask for a suitable husband, specially on Tuesdays.
Take a dip in Vindu Tirtha before visiting Mangala Gauri. I assume this was the Tirtha associated with Bindu Madhav Temple which is closeby.
9. Mahalakshmi Gauri
Finally, for the stable gains in your life, worship the Mahalakshmi Gauri. Lakshmi Kund area of Varanasi is centered around Mahalakshmi temple. There are many temples surrounding her small temple like Jivutputrika or Santan Lakshmi, Vaishno Devi, Sharda Devi, Mayuri Devi. A Chandi Mandir is located closeby.
The entire Lakshmi Kund area is treated as a Shakti Peetha.
The pond called Lakshmi Kund is located close to the temple. It can be a beautiful place to sit and meditate if it is kept clean. Ram Kund and Sita Kund are also supposed to be located close by but I am yet to visit them.
A 16-day mela called Sorhiya mela takes place at this temple, beginning on Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtmi
Mahalakshmi is the Adi Shakti who contains all the three gunas in herself. Her Murti is then shown with three faces representing the three gunas.
The best time to visit all these 9 Gauris in Kashi is during Chaitra Navaratri.
The next best time to visit them all in one day is Shukla Tritiya of any month.
Tuesdays and Fridays are particularly crowded in these temples.
All these are small temples, mostly co-located with other temples.
Most temples open in the morning, stay closed around lunch time and then open again in the evening.
You may need help in locating them. A local guide would be helpful. You may contact Kashi Pradakshina Darshan Yatra Smiti who regularly conducts these Yatras by visiting their office at Mumukshu Bhavan at Assi Ghat.
If you want to do them in one day, I suggest starting very early in the morning.
Temples close to ghats are best approached from ghats, for the rest you can take rickshaws.