Pancharatna temple in Bishnupur, popularly known as Shyam Rai Temple, Pancha Ratna, was built by King Raghunath Singha in 1643.
Pancharatna Mandir is built on a low square plinth and comprises of an ambulatory pathway leading to a porch with three arches on each of the temple’s four sides.
The middle shikhara is octagonal, whereas the other four are square, and the walls are beautifully carved with terracotta carvings depicting Lord Krishna’s life.
Vishnu as Krishna is honored at Pancharatna Temple, which follows the Pancharatna architectural style and is possibly West Bengal’s oldest surviving temple representative of this design.
Panchratna means “five gems” in Bengali, which explains why it has five towers. The Shyam Rai temple rests on a low square foundation with a char chala roof crowned with ratnas, or gems at each corner, built entirely of brick, the only building material abundantly accessible in the region at the period.
The corner towers are square, while the central tower is octagonal, and they are arranged in ‘Pida’ order on a sloping roof. Triple multi-cusped arched entrances greet us on each of the temple’s four sides, leading to the sanctum, which is surrounded by a well-paved circumambulatory road.
Pancharatna temple bishnupur location
The Pancharatna temple, like the others at Bishnupur subdivision of Bankura district in West Bengal, has a curved cornice and eaves that are taken from the thatched bamboo huts that are so common in Bengal.
This form was originally bent into this shape to drain rain water during frequent and strong downpours, and is directly descended from the bamboo framework of the homes.
The absence of stone or any other building material had no effect on the architects and craftspeople of the time. Rather, they baked tales in clay tiles, describing episodes from mythology and life, pouring life into bricks to give birth to a new kind of temple building that resulted in the creation of terracotta temples with ornate and intricate terracotta reliefs.
Because bricks were used in construction, the typical column-beam style of most early Islamic constructions could not be used. As a result, arches have been employed to bridge gaps and sustain the weight above. The influence of Islamic design in the Shyam Rai temple’s curved ceiling is a distinctive feature compared to the majority of Bishnupur temples.
The Pancharatna temple was the first of its sort in Bengal, with outstanding figurines and floral motifs. Its exterior and interior walls and ceilings are adorned with a plethora of exquisite terracotta sculptures depicting Krishna Leela, scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as the socioeconomic and political life of the time.
The rasa mandala, which reflects the merging of aesthetic and structural knowledge, is particularly dazzling. On the walls, there are a few examples of the Gandhara style of sculpture. It is thought that the artisans of nearby Uliwara and Panchmura villages were responsible for creating high-quality terracotta tiles with beautiful engravings.
Until it was taken over by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1996, the temple was in a horrible state and had been plundered. Lord Krishna’s idol has been relocated to Bishnupur for a long time. When the idol is brought back for 5 days during Holi and worshiped here, the complex becomes a hive of activity.
Temples at Bishnupur, West Bengal, are on the UNESCO Sites on the Tentative List since 1998. Pancharatna Temple is an ASI-listed monument, according to the List of Monuments of National Importance in West Bengal (series no. N-WB-31).
Date of Submission: 03/07/1998
Submitted by: Archaeological Survey of India
On its website, UNESCO describes: The temples in Bishnupur are generally of the Eka-Ratna style, with a single tower with a sloping roof and a square cell (Garbhagriha) flanked by three multi cusped arches on each side (i.e. Lalji, Kalachand, Radhashyam, Jormandir and Nandalal).
Aside from these, there are a handful with several Pancha Ratna towers (Shyam Rai of A.D. 1643). With two Dochala constructions connected together by a Charchala Sikhara at the summit, the Jor Bangla temple (A.D.1655) has a particular character.
With a pyramidal roof standing on a large laterite plinth, the Rasmancha (A.D.1600) reflects a unique architectural style. Three successive circumambulatory galleries round the sanctum.