Features and Origins
The pinnacled or ratna design is significantly different from the sloping roofed (chala) styles. Although the base structure is the same (rectangular box with curved cornice) the roof is completely transformed, becoming flattened and surmounted by one or more pinnacles called churas or ratnas. The origins of this style are uncertain as there are both Hindu and Islamic precedents of structures with one or more turrets. Islamic tombs with domes or pavilions at multiple levels are common as on Sher Shah's tomb at Sasaram and Akbar's elaborate tomb at Sikandra, while the practice of decorating the towers of Hindu temples with miniature shrines is ancient and common throughout north and south India, for example at Khajuraho. The simplest version of the ratna style is the single-towered or eka ratna.
This style was a particular favourite of the Malla rulers of Bishnupur, where many such temples are concentrated, although most are unadorned and built of laterite rather than brick. An exception is the temple seen in this picture, the lavishly decorated Madana-mohana temple, whose large and very ornate terracotta panels are unusual, although Islamic precedents can be found as in the Kadam Rasul mosque in Gaur. In a slightly different style (with octagonal chala turrets) are the eka-ratna temples at Guptipara and Bansberia, both remarkable for the extent, quality and content of their terracotta decoration.