Madhya Pradesh archive
Gopal Mandir, the temple of Lord Krishna, located in the Rajwada region of Indore city, is the city's one of the most sacred place. Idol of the Lord Krishna in the sanctum portrays his infant form, which sometimes is also referred as Baal Gopal (In Hindi, Baal also means newborn). Stationed right to the main gate of Rajwada Palace, it was built by the royal family of the Holkars.
The Holkar family, the house of gallant warriors, had an eye for arts & architectural grandeur too, be it the dwelling needs or spiritual. The foundation stone of Gopal Mandir was laid in the year 1832 by her highness Krishna Bai Holkar, the widow queen of Emperor Yashwant Rao Holkar. The queen built the temple to fulfil her religious longings, and it auspiciously reflected her profound devotion to Lord Krishna. As of now, it is in Rajwada, which is a densely populated locality due to a huge local market.
Amidst a large compound, this north-faced temple is built with pitch black stone on a Jagati (a raised platform in Hindu shrines & temples) which also helps devotees in circumambulation. The architectural configuration of Gopal Mandir consists of an ornamental sunken panel in a chamber and an assembly hall. Idols of Lord Krishna & Radha dwells on a heightened stage in the square chamber. The entrance gate is simple and rectangular. Right in front of the entrance gate, two statues are seated one is of Garuda, a Hindu deity with the half body as an eagle, and another one is of Lord Ganesha, a Hindu god with the head similar to an elephant. Both the statues are seated with their bodies and faces in opposite directions. The hall of the temple rests on a total of thirty pillars with corridors on three sides. Pillars are ornamented with golden embellishments. It is made with an exquisite sense of splendour & creativity. The blending of the former can be clearly seen as an implementation of Malwa-Maratha manner of architecture. Roof of the hall bears a chandelier which is responsible for the lighting facilities in the temple. From both historic and archaeological point of view, the structure is praiseworthy.
Once in a year, the festival of Shri Krishna Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated all over the city with on an immense basis. Gopal Mandir is a major spot for devotees on this special day as it is based in the Rajwada, the royal family's residential region. Right from the dusk to the midnight, various religious customs and traditions are carried out throughout the day. A special cleansing ceremony of the Lord Krishna is being conducted by temple’s priests. An idol of Laddu Gopal, a statue of infant Lord Krishna holding an Indian sweet dish in one hand and other hand being on the ground, is placed on a swing at midnight. It depicts the that the newborn Krishna is being laid down in a swing. After the Krishna's birth, his prayers are enchanted with great devotion by the masses. A mixture of butter & sugar-crystals are distributed among the people. Butter & sugar-crystal mixture is Laddu Gopal’s favourite dish/dessert.
A group activity known as Matki-Fod is being conducted in Rajwada on a grand level. Matki-Fod is a lively deed which is carried out by the admirers of Krishna as a tribute to his childhood’s rogue activities. According to Indian mythology, Lord Krishna uses to steal butter from cowherd maidens (Gopi). Following the tradition, pot of butter is being hung at sufficient height with the help of ropes, devotees make a human pyramid/tower to reach that pot and break it. Despite of the danger associated, the enthusiasm of the sport is never narrows down.
Under Indore Smart City Project, plans are being made by the Government to develop and preserve the culturally rich areas of Indore. Gopal Mandir, a prominent site will also be a part of the plan. Soon, a comprehensive design will be released for the reconstruction and conservation for Gopal Mandir.
The ambiance of the Mandir is soothing and cherishing. The exterior structure may not be able to portray the divinity of the temple, but what makes the place lively is people's belief. It may be decaying, but in order to amend the mistakes, efforts are being put into action to prevent any further loss.