Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The temples and architechtural marvels of Bishnupur : Shyamrai Temple (or Panchchura Temple )and Radhashyam Temple

    Bishnupur town in Bankura district of West Bengal is known as temple city of Bengal since long. Several temples having mesmerizing “ Terra Cotta ( Baked clay work ) art works, gates and other architectural marvels , lakes ( Bandhs) , famous Baluchari Sharis , the discrete wing of  music ( Bishnupur Gharana) , Dashabatar Cards etc made Bishnupur a city with full of heritage. All these art forms evolved due to the active patronage of the “Malla” dynasty kings who ruled this part between 7th century AD to the  1st half of 20th century. The dynasty started with Raghunath or Adimalla who crowned in 694 AD ( Bengali year 101) and instigated the “Mallabda” after his name. As he was an eminent and efficient “ Mallabir” ( wrestler) in his young age , hence the dynasty got the name “ Malla”. The 49th Malla King Bir Hambir or Hambir Malla became a Vaishnab (worshiper of Lord Krishna) , he and his descendants started to build up these temples, one after another for Lord Krishna and named these temples after various names of Krishna.

Shyamrai Temple or Panchchura Temple:

Frontal view of the temple

The inscription on the wall of this south facing temple proclaims  - “ Sri Radhika Krishnamude Shakenkabe/ Danka Yukte Nabaratnaratang/ Sri Bir Hambir/ Naresha sunurdadau nripa Sri Raghunath/ Singha // Malla Sake 949/ SriRaja Birsingha”  Which means Raghunath Singha , the son of King Bir Hambir dedicated this  Nabaratna  temple for the pleasure of Radha –Krishna in 949 Mallabda ( 1643 AD). Standing on a low square plinth, this brick temple is 11.4 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt high and noted for its elaborate terracotta ornamentations which include  the story of Ramayana, Mahabharata , Rasamandala, Purans and contemporary  socio- religious themes.

The Archer

The Dholak Player

Krishna with Gopinis

 The square sanctum is surrounded by an ambulatory pathway with a porch opened by three multi cusped arches on four sides. Of the five “ Sikharas” or “ Churas” (or Pinnacle, hence the name “ Panchchura temple”) , the central one is octahedral ( the original one collapsed) and the other four are square , resting upon the four corners of a sloping roof in “ Pida” order.

The Terracotta artwork on the pillars and facade of the temple

The Rasachakra

Radhashyam Temple:

The Dedicatory inscription on the frontal facade of this temple indicates that Malla king Chaitanya Singha built this temple in 1758 AD. Square on plan , this Makra stone ( Laterite) temple is 12.5 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt high and stands within a large yard enclosed by high boundary wall. The “Sikhara” or “Chura” or “Ratna” (Pinnacle) of this temple is dome shaped and slightly different from other “ Ekratna” temples of Bishnupur. The outer walls are fashioned with carvings in low relief , which are decorated with fine stucco work. These decorative motifs include both geometric and floral patterns, epic and Puran stories. At the entrance , there is a  brick – constructed “ Nahabatkhana” where arists used to play “ Sehnai” in the past.  There is also a kitchen and “Tulsi Mancha” (Orissa style) in the East and a “ Natamancha” in the  South . The idols of Lord Radhyashyam, Nitai – Gour  and Lord Jagannatha are worshiped in this temple. 

The entrance of the Radhashyam  Temple

Radhashyam Temple with Nahabatkhana and Tulsimancha