The Varanasi Heritage Dossier/Samarajeshvara Temple
25º 18.551’ North and 83º 00.814’ East (Samarajeshvara, Nepali, Temple). 2. Exact location on a map: Lalita Ghat
0.015ha (the ghats and nearby area)
-- At the upper part of the Lalita Ghat is the Samarajeshvara (Nepali; house D 1/ 67) temple, built in 1843 through the patronage of the king Maharaja Rajendra Vikram Shah and the prince Surendra Vikram Shah in memory and fulfilment of the last words of the queen of Nepal, Rajalakshmi Devi, who died in 1841. This is the replica of the Pashupatinatha temple in Kathmandu. The main structures are made of wood, and the walls are of brick. The base platform is on a raised square-shaped platform of 1.3m high. The inner sanctum has four gates, where wooden doorways are beautifully decorated with inscribed designs. The upper part of southern and northern doors consists of images of the ten incarnations of Vishnu. On the eight directions of the four walls there are images of 8 mother goddesses, Matrikas, in a series of her two moods, quite and angry. These Matrikas, viz. Vaishnavi, Varahi, Camunda, Durga, Sarasvati (Brahmani), Maheshvari, Kaumari and Indrani, are decorated with their traditional weapons along with the Tantric weapons like snake, sword, skull, trident, etc. In the inner sanctum at the northern corner an image of 18-handed Mahishasuramardini is notable. On the basement wooden pillar supporting the porches there are erotic images showing the influence of Tantrism; these images are comparable to erotic images found in Khajuraho, Modhera, Bhubaneshwar, and Konarka. The middle portion of the main entrance gate contains four-handed Shiva image standing on his vehicle Nandi (bull). Primarily this temple shows all the important characteristics and myths associated to Shiva, but the Tantric impacts predominate. The religious integrity is also maintained. Following the tradition of Pancayatana style of Banaras, in the inner sanctum Goddess, Surya, Vishnu and Ganesha have also been established.
Present state of conservation
The Samrajeshvara Temple and the associated Pilgrims Rest house (Dharmashala) belong to the Guthi Samsthan of Nepal, which during the last three years preserved and conserved the temple and rest house in a good manner. This project was sponsored by the Archaeology Department of the Government of Nepal, under the supervision of Dr. Rishikeshav Regmi. Many of the dilapidated wood are replaced, and the older ones are preserved in the attached veranda. The replacement of the wooden architecture has not been to the quality and grandeur of the old ones. Moreover, at several places the style has also been changed.
Specific measures being taken for conserving the specific property
It is expected that by the support of active people participation, awareness to save the age-old rich heritage, and development under the Master Plan (and its judiciary control) the ghat heritage will be protected and conserved for the better befit to the society.
The temples are owned by their Temple Trusts; and the ghat area by the Municipal Corporation.
- Map 37. Lalita Ghat, Dharmashala of the temple of Samarajeshvara Temple: Site Plan.
38. Lalita Ghat, Nepali Dharmashala to the bank of the Ganga: Cross Section