Features and Origins
The next level of elaboration after the pancharatna is the nine-towered (navaratna) temple which is essentially a pancharatna with an extra storey. Though complex, this became popular amongst merchants and small zamindars in and around Bishnupur, and in the nearby districts of Hugli and Medinipur. The large number of pinnacles give smaller temples in this style an exaggerated grandeur that was clearly a source of prestige to patrons. Temples with even more complex superstructures were built by increasing the number of levels and adding more turrets at each level. The most elaborate pinnacled style is the twenty-five-spired temple which was patronized by the powerful zamindars of Bardhaman who built three such massive and elaborate temples at Kalna. Recent research on ratna temples has shown that ratnas were not merely decorative but also used in daily rituals. Dieties were taken upto the central tower, so that the worshippers gathered on the temple grounds could view them.
The greatest nava-ratna temple is the massive and richly decorated early 18th c Kantaji temple at Kantanagar temple in Dinajpur. Nearly all other nava-ratna temples are from the 19th century or later, including the renowned modern temples of Dakshineswar and Talpukur near Kolkata. Other notable examples of navaratna temples are the Radha-binod temple in Kenduli (Birbhum), the temples at Joypur (Bankura), the Sridhara temple in Bishnupur, the Santinatha Siva temple in Chandrakona (Medinipur), and the temples at Dubrajpur in Birbhum.