Krishna Temple built by Bhosle Maharaja

While taking a stroll in the sparse forest area around Sonegaon on the outskirts of Nagpur, I came across this desolate, but well-maintained Krishna temple. There were no devotees, no worshippers, not even a priest. And yet from the looks of it, this Krishna temple was cared for.

This Krishna temple was constructed by Bhosle Maharaja and is around 200 years old. The Bhosle are a prominent warrior community within the Maratha clan system. The most famous member of this community is Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire, which successfully replaced the Mughal Empire as the major political power in India. Like many Hindu kings before them, the Bhosle were great patrons of the arts. This Krishna temple is testimony to that.

There is a huge tree in the courtyard with a canopy of giant spreading branches. Not a soul in sight, save for the occasional drowsy stray dog. Beyond the narrow doorway lay a multi-pillared hall, built using a framework of stone blocks and wood. The columns were all brightly colored with traditional dyes in designs of old. There is a deity of Garuda, the eagle mount of Lord Vishnu, offering greetings at the entrance.

Note: Lord Krishna is considered one of the Dashavatar (ten avatars) of Lord Vishnu.

The roof above the altar in the Krishna temple was high and conical, complete with ancient woodwork painted in blackish grey.  It was hard to get a proper look in as the altar was closed, as is customary in all Hindu temples when there is no aarti (ceremonial worship).

The deities themselves were unique. This was the first time Lord Krishna was present with both Radha and Rukmini on either side of him.  In most Krishna temples, Lord Krishna is depicted either with Radha or Rukmini, not with both. This makes this Krishna temple very unique in terms of Hindu temple architecture.

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