KRISHNA MANDIR - Patan

Places

July 2017

 

The eight-sided Krishna temple which marks the entrance to the Durbar Square is also known as the Cyasimdeval or Cyasim Degah. It was built in 1723 A.D. by Yogamati, the great-grandfather of Raja Siddhi Narsimha Malla and the daughter of Yoganarendra Malla. The style of this multi-stage sikhara temple is Indian, although its design is of a type rare in both India and Nepal. The temple was built to commemorate the wives who burned themselves to death according to the custom of sati upon the death of King Yoganarendra Malla, the number of wives perhaps being eight, although some sources put the number at more than thirty. The temple as a whole is most notable architecturally for the excellence of its carving in stone, and it bears no relation to multi-roofed Nepalese temples in brick and wood.


This tall structure is an effective marker for the beginning of the square as it stands on its stone based about 4 feet in height. The sikhara-shaped storeys are marked by two series of small open balconies which project forward from the tower with small and graceful turret roofs over each. The overall effect of the building, emphasized by the low relief "ribs" along the relatively plain upper portion below the final pinnacle, is of upward directed composition. The multiplied elements are perhaps more harmoniously combined here than at the square's Krishna-Radha temple and the stone carving is not so complex and abundant as to overwhelm the viewer as in the case of the Mahabauddha temple outside the square.

The four large stages of the base lead up to the circumambulatory passage entrance, and two stone lion 4 feet in height guard the smaller entrance stairs which are set into the stepped base. On the last step before the circumambulatory are two elaborate multi-armed figures which also serve as guards. The major steps of the plinth are lightly carved into a series of double ridges at the top of each level and slight bevels at the bottom. At the base of the columns which enclose the circumambulatory the carving becomes more detailed and more symbolic. Quite suitably for this passage we see the application of the meandering line motif called the kalpalata, this is the wish-fulfilling vine from which all desires are granted and all needs supplied. As a symbol of unending continuity, this design encircles the shrine in worship by walking the circumambulatory is the carved figure of lion, symbol of strength and power, the form becoming two-headed as it turns each of the temple's eight "corners."

Between each pair of columns around the first level passageway in an archway marked by a slightly raised carved circle at its highest point and similar circles at the head of each column, these being doubled at each corner of the building. The circular motif helps make for a design of light, balanced composition, and it is remarkable that the building is of an almost weightless appearance despite the narrowness of the columns and the considerable mass of the upper two third of the structure.

The entranceways are within the circumambulatory passage and are marked by the meandering line also, here being carved in higher relief are pillars on each side of the doorways beneath which stand stone lions. There are eight such doorways but six are false. The eastern and western openings have wooden doors covered with much carvings related to wood. Also each of the eight sides has two illusionist windows flanking its false door. These are carefully copied after wooden screen windows and some of the carved holes actually do penetrate through the stone "screens" to the interior of the small, dark shrine.

The second storey is of quite complex spatial relationships because of the eight columned niches that project from the main sikhara each with a miniature sikhara tower as pinnacle. The cornice upon which these niches rest is elaborately carved with a great many border motifs and the second level has numerous small carvings of various gods and goddesses without interrupting the overall rhythm of columns and arches that repeats that of the first level. This second floor issued for religious functions and its circumambulatory is open as on the first level.

The third stage of the temple is not functional and the arched niches here, while following the lower level designs on a smaller scale, serve only as decorative additions to the main sikhara tower, which is made of brick and capped by a stone finial. Statues of various divinities are attached to the raised ribs of the tower and the uppermost pinnacle, which echoes of all the minor pinnacle turrets below it, is brightly gilded. Its form is quite simple, providing a good example of the basic capping device used in Nepalese temple architecture. Just below this final elements are seven small divinity statues showing figures seated on lotus bases, and above these, beyond the tower's highest niches, the sikhara tower is no longer clearly eight-sided but round. However, in small elements like column shape and window perforations, eight-sidedness is clearly emphasized throughout the design.

It is important to note that Krishna Mandir is clearly Hindu both in total plan and in detail, its Indian origin making it less a blend of stylistic influences than is common in Nepal, The carvings in stone of Garudas, nagas, snake-destroying demons, and certain deities are almost exact parallels of figures and designs common since every early times in India. in total, the building must be termed Indo-Nepalese.

Durbar Square Bells

Located next to Krishna Mandir is a large cast bronze bell over 200 years old which was rung by all rulers of Patan for religious and warning purposes. It stands on a very high base into which shops have been built; the bell is itself being supported by a heavy post and lintel stone framework which has been painted with religious symbols. The bell is covered by a small brightly gilded roof which harmonizes well with the roofs of the Nepalese style temples around it. A golden pinnacle stands atop this small protective roof. The bell was erected in 1737 by Visnu malla and his wife Chandra Laksmi.

The Legends of Nepal - Jnan Kaji Manandhar
Provided by Nhuj Nakami

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