Chaturbhuj Temple

Orchha, Madhya Pradesh

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The temple was originally built to deify an image of Rama, as the chief deity, which however was installed in the Rama Raja Temple inside the Orchha Fort complex. At present an image of Radha Krishna is worshiped in the temple.

Chaturbhuj Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is situated at Orchha in Madhya Pradesh, India. The name Chaturbhuj is where 'chatur' meaning "four" and 'bhuj'  meaning "arms" which literally translates to "one who has four arms" and refers to Rama an avatar of Vishnu. The temple has a complex multi-storied structural view which is a blend of temple, fort and palace architectural features.

 

According to a local legend, the temple was built after the queen had a "dream visitation" by Lord Rama directing her to build a temple for Him; while Madhukar Shah was a devotee of Krishna, his wife's dedication was to Rama. Following the approval to build the Chaturbhuja Temple, the queen went to Ayodhya to obtain an image of Lord Rama that was to be enshrined in her new temple. When she came back from Ayodhya with the image of Rama, initially she kept the idol in her palace, called Rani Mahal, as the Chaturbhuj Temple was still under construction. She was, however, unaware of an injunction that the image to be deified in a temple could not be kept in a palace.

Once the temple construction was completed and the idol of the lord had to be moved for installation at the Chatrubhuj Temple, it refused to be shifted from the palace. Hence, instead of the Chaturbuj temple, the Rama's idol remained in the palace whereas the Chaturbhuj Temple remained without an idol in its sanctum. As Rama was worshiped in the palace it was converted into the Ram Raja Temple; it is the only shrine in the country where Rama is worshiped as a king.

 

The Chaturbhuj temple has tall spires in the shape of pine cones built atop a high platform of 4.5 metres (15 ft) height. The overall height of the temple is 105 metres (344 ft) high and its layout is compared to that of a Basilica and planned to resemble the four arms of Vishnu for whom it was built. The imposing view of the temple is that of multi-storied palace with arcaded openings, a very large entrance, a large central tower and fortifications. The climb to the temple facade involves climbing steep and narrow steps numbering 67, each of about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) height, forming a winding stairway. The interior has many halls and the main hall or mandapa of the temple is built in the shape of a cross or cruciform and is stated to be in Islamic style, and it is at right angles to the vestibule, of identical layout on either side.

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