New Delhi: In the last 200 years, 11 foreign writers have done extensive writings on Kashi, the city of Baba Vishwanath. Most of these writers arrived from the beginning to the end of the 19th century. Some writers have given an account of 20th century Banaras. Most British writers visited Kashi. For foreign writers who came here in the 19th century, the splendour of the temples of Kashi was a matter of curiosity. In the 17 books written by these 11 foreign authors, researchful writings are seen in respect of other Shivalayas including Adi Vishweshwar, Vishweshwar, Kashi Vishwanath and others. Prominent writers who visited Kashi between 1820 and 1983 include John Murdak, Samuel Beale, Sering Matthews, Myers Henry, Rallp Fitch, Parker Arthur, Edwin Greaves, and Neville HR.
Prof. of the Department of Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology at Kashi Hindu University (BHU). Singh points out that the most important and detailed writing in the last two hundred years has been done by James Prinsep. He was the youngest fellow of the British Asiatic Society. He spent ten years of his life in Banaras. During this period, he not only wrote about all the temples built on the banks of the ghats from Gyanvapi to Kashi but also prepared sketches of them. He wrote half a dozen books, including 'Banaras Illustrated'. The first bridge over the Karmanasha River was built in front of James Prinsep. The underground drainage system of Kashi was also designed under his direction.
In 1830, about 27 years after James left Kashi, John Murdock of London came to Benares. He has mentioned the temples here in his book 'Kashi or Banaras: The Holy City of Hindus'. In the year 1868, Tsering Mathew of Britain came to Benares. Mathew, who worked as a missionary, wrote books 'The Sacred City of the Hindus', 'Benaras and its Antiquities', 'Description of Buddhists', 'Handbook for Visitors to Benaras' and 'Runs at Bakaria Kund'. In the book 'Runs at Bakaria Kund', he has written in detail about the myths related to Bakaria Kund (Vakkarka Kund).
In 1884, Britain's Samuel Beale and then Myers Henry came to Kashi as a senior officials of the East India Company. He focused on the importance of the Ganga in the life of Banaras along with his writings about temples. In 1899, Britain's Ralph Fitch wrote 'England Pioneer to India and Burma', in 1901, London's Parker Arthur's 'Handbook of Benares' and in 1909 Edwin Greaves and Neville HR of Britain jointly wrote a book called 'Banaras the Gazetteer', depicting the splendour of Kashi. But it is ironic that, for the Kashi of Shiva, which has been kept supreme in their books from Indian scriptures to foreign writers, the same Kashi has to be produced in the courts today.