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View of the ghats and Aurangzeb's Mosque, Benares (U.P.). 17 December 1819

View of the ghats and Aurangzeb's Mosque, Benares (U.P.). 17 December 1819

Artist: Cates, James S. (fl. 1815-1819)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1819

Shelfmark: WD1002

Item number: 1002

Length: 149

Width: 226

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Painting

Water-colour painting of Aurangzeb's Mosque and the ghats at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh by James S. Cates (fl. 1815-1819), 17 December 1819. Inscribed on the front in ink is: 'View of the Minarets at Benares. James S. Cates. 87th Regt Pinxt. December 17th, 1819.'

The Great Mosque of Aurangzeb or Jnana Vapi Mosque was built in the late 17th century. It has two colossal minarets towering over 70 metres (232 feet) above the River Ganges. It was built on the site of one of the most sacred temples at Varanasi by the Emperor Aurangzeb (1658-1707). Its simple white domes loom over the Gyan Vapi (Wisdom Well), which is situated immediately north and housed in an open-arcaded hall built in 1828. It is said Shiva cooled his lingam on this spot after the construction of the original Vishwanatha temple, the principal sanctuary dedicated to him in the city.

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