The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Pancakroshi Temple
Co-ordinates : 25º 18.791’ North and 83º 00.833’ East. Exact location on a map : Bhikharidas Lane, Gola Gali, House No. CK 5/ 33
Temple compound: 8.5m x 12.5m, i.e. 106.25 sq. m, i.e. 0.0106ha === Historical/cultural/natural significance ===: Built in the early and mid 19th century, this temple represents “a micro-cosmic Kashi” through depiction of 321 divine images of the various pilgrimage circuits of the City, including 107 images on the outer circuit showing the cosmic limit (Panchakroshi). That is how it received the name, Panchakroshi Mandira. The 12 forms of Shiva and 56 forms of Ganesha, originally located in different places in India and also represented in Varanasi city, are also depicted here.. 6.Authenticity (as according to article 24 to 34 of operational guidelines) The architecture design is a unique piece, and represents a process of spatial manifestation through which India to be represented in the temple art. By performing pilgrimage to this temple, pilgrims feel that they have seen the whole Varanasi and whole India too.
This temple represents the universe of Kashi in the walls’ niches. The temple possesses 107 images of Panchakroshi pilgrimage circuit in addition to 194 other images associated with the different pilgrimage routes of Varanasi. These miniatures like stone niches (average size of ca. 30 X 45cm) on the walls and at the front gate contain engraved form of names, of course some of them are now ruined and repaired badly by cement. Architect and pilgrimage scholar Niels Gutschow (1994:200) remarks that "as the initiated might perform the yatra within his own body the Panchakroshi Mandir serves as tool: 301 gods and goddesses, ghats, ponds and wells are visualised, worshipped and circumambulated in a single act of motion. The walls of the temple are transformed into a vast sacred scene". In the inner sanctum the Dvadasheshvara Lingam of Shiva consists of the stone base on which stand the 12 crystal made lingams.
Present state of conservation
The fate of this temple is in danger. Already out of 273 inscription at the base of niches, 30 are unidentifiable and already 19 are partially obscured. Use of layers of paint, ochre and red enamel paint and cement for repairing, altogether speed up the loss. With the support of local people, on the name of religious duty, some renovation works have been done.
Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property
Recently the VDA (Varanasi Development Authority) and the Culture Department of the State have enlisted it as an important heritage in danger. It is expected that soon some steps be taken to fully document it and make preservation process.
This is a private property owned and maintained by the priest, Purushottam Lal Dikshita (68 years old), whose great grand father came here to provide religious services and settled down here. However, another merchant family living next door also claim the possession. This way between the conflict of two families the fate of this heritage temple is in danger.