India is a country with outstanding diversity of cultures, religions and languages. The fact that India might just be the most vivid and colorful country in the world is supported by its uniqueness which to this date stand unmatched. Amongst these remarkable formations and thousands of ancient temples in India, stands Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple in the ancient holy city of Kashi or Varanasi.
The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as the leaning temple, stands at the banks of river Ganga on the Scindia Ghats. The temple’s lower part holds the sanctum or Garbha Griha which remains underwater for most part of the year. And during the monsoon season when the water level rises up, even the Pinnacle or Gumbhaj of the temple gets submerged.
Uniqueness of Ratneshwar Temple
The temple finds a special mention because it leans at about 9 degrees. It is also known as Kashi Karvat, which means a temple of Kashi which leans on one side and despite being underwater for most time of the year the temple is well preserved.
According to some references, the architects of the temple build it under water purposely. Some fables say that the priests in the 19th century used to swim underwater to perform prayers in the temple. The legends which rounds the temple comes before 1860, near around when the temple was constructed which says that it was built by a servant of Raja Man Singh for his mother, Ratna Bai.
The purpose of building the temple was to pay the debts of his mother and according to the folk tales, the mother was anguished by this gesture and the temple started leaning backwards showing that a mother’s love should not be equalized with debt, hence reflecting the agony and curse of the mother.
Leaning tower of Pisa vs Leaning temple of Varanasi
- According to various reports Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple is tilted higher than Italy’s famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
- The Leaning tower or the Torre Pendente di Pisa which is a freestanding bell tower in the Italian city of Pisa was built in 1173.
- The tower is known worldwide for its four degree lean which is a result of faulty foundation.
- The tower in Italy leans at four degrees which is lesser in comparison to the nine degree tilt of the Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple. Also the height of the temple is 74 metres while the Tower of Pisa stands 57 metres high.
- The tower has survived many earthquakes since the times it was built and has also been undergoing several restorations to keep it from falling. Whereas the temple on the other hand, is submerged under water for most part of the year and is still well preserved except for the lean.
- Also no required attention is being given to the temple for its restitution, yet it is surprisingly continuing to uphold itself naturally in the waters of Ganga.
Today the leaning tower of Pisa stands amongst one of the famous world heritage site as listed by UNESCO and attracts thousands of tourists every year. However surprisingly, the Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple doesn’t even stand as a tourist spot and fails to receive any tourist attention which comes to Varanasi.
As the temple today stands lost and anonymous amongst the many other unparalleled medieval architectures, efforts should be made to get recognition and appreciation to its unshared exclusive features. The temple is diversified and rich in itself, hence it should be well sustained without bothering its uniqueness.