Varanasi is the religious capital of India. With close to 3,000 temples and shrines dotting the city’s landscape, Varanasi is often referred to as the City of Temples. The Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple near Manikarnika Ghat is one among them and is also the most photographed temple in Varanasi. Why this temple is photographers’ favourite? Do you know?
There is no accurate information as to when and who built this temple. According to the revenue records, it was constructed from 1825 to 1830. But there are other stories also which say it was built by Raja Man Singh for his mother Ratna Bai about 500 years ago. According to another story, it was built by a female servant of Ahilya Bai of Indore. Some sources claim that it was built by Queen Baija Bai of Gwalior in the 19th century.
The temple is constructed in the classical style with a nagara shikhara. What makes it unusual is the site of the temple which is built at a very low level. In fact, the water level can reach the shikhara part of the temple. The temple is 13-14 meter in height. And most importantly, the temple leans over 9 degrees. Remember, the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans at 4 degrees.
The Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple is the only one of the two tilting temples in India. The other leaning temple is the Leaning Temple of Lord Bimaleshwar at Huma, a village situated on the bank of the Mahanadi, 23 km south of Sambalpur in Odisha.
At the time of construction, the temple was not a leaning structure and the tilt happened later on. According to experts, tilt has happened because of foundation defects which is common in many buildings. A sinking foundation is often caused by soil changes under the architecture.