TEMPLE OF VISHNU, BISHNUPUR


BISHNUPUR, MANIPUR
Bishnupur (Lat 24° 35’ N; Long. 93°45’ E)
Airport: Imphal; Railway Station :Jiribam; Bus Station: Imphal

The temple of Vishnu is situated at the heart of Bishnupur, BishnupurDist, Manipur. Vishnu temple is one of the oldest known brick temples in the state of Manipur. This temple is standing on a slightly raise platform. The plinth of the temple raises vertically ten steps forward and back into three receding courses. It is built of burnt bricks and limemortar, square on plan and was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, but the image is no longer placed in the sanctum. The structural consist of Adhisthana, basement Jangha (bhitti), wall and body of the temple, porchhall and sikhara, super structure of the temple. It has square garbhagriha with rectangular antarala, the porch facing to south and covered by acorbelled roof. Internally the temple measures 2x2 mand the porch measures 2.10x1.1m. The ceiling of the sanctum hall is curved in ward by the juxt a position of bricks until it comes to central axis. The architectural style of this temple is very much akin to that of style adopted in the buildings of Burma of the early medieval period.

There are two different theories of which one theory states that the temple was built by King Kyamba (1467-1508A.D). In 1467 A.D., Thawai Ningthouba, son of King Ning thoukhomba ascended the throne at the age of 24. In 1470 A.D. king Thawai Ningthouba with the alliance of King Choupha Khekhomba, king of Pong, upper Burma defeated the king of Kyang, a Shan Kingdom, in the Kabow valley, Burma. After the end of the war King Thawai Ningthouba assumed the title of Kyamba, the conqueror of Kyang. By atreaty the conquered was equally divided between the mand gifts were exchanged between the two kings. Among the presents given by the king of Pong, there was a little image of Vishnu. This image was originally belong to Manipur and taken away by Kekhomba’s predecessor as war trophies, it is reported that king Kyamba received back the Bishnu image from Khekhomba, the king of Pong. The Vishnu image was installed in amasonry temple at Vishnupur (Lamangdong), the old capital. After installation of the image, the Lamangdong become to be known as Bishnupur or Bishenpur.

Another theory claims that the temple belongs to King Charairongba period (1697- 1709A.D.) According to this theory, King Charairongba initiated to Vaishnavism and worship Vishnu and it sincar nation. The royal chronicle did not mention the presentation of Vishnu image and construction of Vishnu templed uring the Kyamba period. King Kyamba was the follower of the traditional religion and he did no tinitiate to Vaishnavism as well as King Choupha Khekhomba, the king of Pong, was also not a Vaishnavite. The royal chronicle did not mention the used of bricks during the Kyamba period for the construction of house and palace, bricks were not available at that time, except that ch, bamboo and wood. For the first time brick factory (chekshang) and used of bricks on a large scale began during the reign of King Charairongba for the construction of palace and temple. Many Burmese mason (craftsmen) visited in Manipur during the reign of Charairongba. They helped in the construction of temples and palace, which marked the beginning of the monumental architecture in Manipur. The styles and sizes of the brick of Vishnu temple are more similar with other brick works of Charairongba’s period, particularly its super structure which copied from Bengali-hut type.

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