Krishna Temple at Patan is a heritage in the middle of the Kathmandu Valley. The Krishna temple on the west side of Patan’s Darbar square was completed in 1637. It has managed to carry a different identity. The art carved in this temple, which is believed to have been built by a theistic king under the direction of a dream, has become more and more important in the last four and a half centuries. The Krishna temple in Patan is different from other temples in Nepal in terms of the artwork of the stone temple and the idols placed there.
From the ritual of worshiping the two main deities with equal importance to the construction of 21 gajuras (pinnacles), the temple has been raised in a different category.
Generally, most of the temples in Nepal are built in pagoda style. But it is built in Shikhar style and one can see the influence of Dravidian and Mughal styles also.
In terms of style, the art of Vatsala temple in Bhaktapur is similar to that of Patan Durbar temple. But the Krishna temple has been built with 21 gajurs while Vatsala has fewer gajurs. The Krishna temple, full of art and beauty, has idols of Krishna and Shiva. Outside the temple is a statue of 10 incarnations of Vishnu. There is a statue of a fish incarnation in the east corner. Then the idols of various incarnations of God Vishnu are placed in a clockwise direction.
Rare temple with two gods
The practice of placing the idols of many gods in one temple can be seen everywhere. However, the tradition of placing idols in the temple by giving importance to both the gods is rare in Nepal.
According to various archeological evidence, a similar temple was built in the eighth century at Kanchipuram near Madras. However, during Siddhi Narsingh’s time, the practice of building such a temple has diminished.
There is an interesting reason behind placing the idols of Shiva and Krishna in the same temple. Towards the end of the 17th century, there was a bush on the site of the present Krishna temple. The Shivalaya was not built on the land prepared for the Shivalaya. At the same time, someone suggested to King Siddhi Narasingh in a dream to uproot the bush and build a temple for Lord Krishna.
According to the legend, an idol of Lord Krishna was found while cutting down a bush. Since the place where the idol of Krishna was found and the land allotted for the Shivalaya was set aside, Siddhi Narsingha started worshiping the idols of Shiva and Krishna.
Why was Patan Krishna temple built in Shikhar style?
Krishna Temple is 19.67 meters high. At its entrance is a statue of an eagle and a lion. There is a different reason behind building in Shikhar style.
Religious king Siddhi Narsingh used to perform Havan in the Yajna Kunda regularly. Even on the day he dreamed, the smoke that came out during the same havan took the shape of the present Krishna temple. It is believed that the temple was built in the Shikhar style on the same basis.
Artwork inside the temple
Except for the ground floor, a series of chhatri pavilions frame the inner ambulatories; eight each are located at the corners and cardinal directions of the second and third levels, while the fourth level includes four ornamental chattri built directly into each face of the sikhara. On the ground floor, the inner walls of the wraparound gallery are divided into five bays on each side, with a door located at the center of each facade. The remaining bays feature scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata narrated in the Newari script. On the first floor of the temple, one can see the carved images and script depicting the events of the Mahabharat and the second floor has the carving depicting the Ramayana.
The reason behind the 21 gajuras (pinnacles)
The 21 gajuras in the Krishna temple also have different meanings. During the regular havan of the king, 21 urns were installed. The name of the urn was also different. However, the name of the urn is not mentioned in the inscription on the temple. It is believed that 21 gajurs were made to represent the urn after the same urn was burnt in the yajna.
The first floor enshrines Krishna, the second Shiva (in the form of a linga), and the third Lokeshwor. On the way to the upper floor, you can see a statue of a lion called ‘Shardul’. Before ascending, Krishna can be seen playing the flute, Rukmini and Satyaga dancing.
Similarly, idols of Krishna, Rukmini and Satyagama, Garuda, etc. are kept in the sanctum sanctorum on the upper floor. The subject matter of the Mahabharata is briefly mentioned on the wall of the upper floor, just as the main point is mentioned. Also, idols of various forms of Lord Krishna can be seen.
The Indian style has more influence in the construction art of this temple. It took six and a half years to build this temple. This type of temple was built in South India from the 11th to the 13th century. It is also rare in itself as it takes a lot of capital to build such a temple. But in all the places where such temples have been built, such temples have been built for Lord Vishnu and his incarnation.
On the first floor of the temple, one can see the carved images depicting the events of the Mahabharat and the second floor has the carving depicting the Ramayana. It is said it took 7 years to construct the temple out of the different unusual items like legumes, sugar molasses, cotton, sawdust of Sal tree and vermilion powder, and stones. In front of this temple, there is the statue of Garuda, the mount of Vishnu, kneeling with folded arms atop of a pillar facing the temple, and on the back of the statue of Garuda is Kothihom Mandap. Non-Hindus are prohibited from entering the temple. Every year, a huge number of worshipers throng the temple during the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, Krishna’s birthday held in august/September (Bhadra).
Also Read: Krishna Janmashtami
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