Radhe Shyam Temple

Bishnupur, Manipur

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Built by Chaitanya Singha in ekaratna style. It was built in a square plan, consisting of a dome shaped shikhara and stucco motifs depicting floral, geometric and depiction of the life from puranas.

‘Radhe Shyam’ temple is ‘Ek-Ratna’ – single spire temple with a square base measuring 11.1 m and  10.7 m in height. The spire is cylindrical, with semi-spherical dome. The idea of installing a spire on top of the temple, according to some writers, came from the then prevailing Muslim architecture. The deity used to be placed in the spire during festival days so that a large crowd of devotees can view the idol from a distance. The work on this temple is most elaborate and aesthetically pleasing among the laterite temples I have come across.

Entrances to the sanctum for devotees as well as for services have three arches. The arches on the front side has lost most of the wall-reliefs.  Ditto on the arches on the service side of the temple. Two rows of wall-reliefs set inside alcoves, each on right and left flanks of the front face, go up to the top. Two rows of alcoves connect these two verticals and offer the best of the oeuvre. Here, the wall-reliefs are based on Ramayana and ‘Dashavatar’ (Ten incarnations) of Vishnu.

The walls inside have excellent wall-reliefs too – much bigger size than the ones on the outside. Among them, ‘Ananta-sayane Vishnu’  (Vishnu resting on Ananta) is very well-known.  A favourite of mine too. I also like the ‘Sharho-bhuja Chaitanya’ (Chaitanya Dev with six hands) and a panel on ‘Krsna Leela’. We find ‘Sharho-bhuja Chaitanya’ wall-relief in many temples including Madan Mohan temple of Vishnupur and ‘Ananta vasudev’ temple at Bansberia, Hooghly.

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