Thakur Satyanarayan Temple


Satya Narayana is another name of lord Vishnu or Narayana. Shri Satya Narayana temple discussed in this write-up is in the city Rampur Busharhr, a municipal council in Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh. Rampur town is in a beautiful valley situated at the bank of the Satluj river. It bordered on the north with Spiti, on the east with Tibet, on the south with Garhwal and on the west with Jubba, Kothai, kumharsain, Kotgarh, and Kullu.the town of Rampur was possibly founded by Raja Kehri in the 17th c or by Raj Ram Singh in 18th c. The rulers moved down from Sarahan to the banks of the river Sutlej- Rampur.

Bushahr dynasty trace their ancestry to Pradyunma- the son of lord krishna. The current residence of the Raja of Bushahr state is at the Padam palace at Rampur. Rampur as the capital of one of the most prosperous hills state and a major entrepôt along the old trade routes, Rampur benefitted from a wide range of economic and cultural exchanges.

Sat Narayana temple is situated in the middle of crowded and busting market. It is said by local people many people from modern state Rajasthan, Haryana had settled at Rampur through the means of trade and commerce.

Temple of Sat Narayana was established by a rich merchant or seth called Lala Kapoor Chand, he was from Yamunanagar (Haryana) and settled down permanently in the valley of Rampur with his family. The seth and sethani had no heir further and adopted a small girl from their family line, which is also shown along with seth and sethani on the top left panel of the North wall of the temple in mahamandapa. 

The skilled craftsmen were called from Rajasthan and raw materials were transferred from Rajasthan by the help of animal transformations.


Sat Narayana temple architectural design is influenced by the Rajasthani craft and art. The focus of temple in the centre or sanctum (garbhagriha) where the image of God Sat Narayana resides.

Temple have an entrance where the life size sculpture of seth and sethani with greeting hands (namaste mudra) facing western direction towards main deity. These sculptures are supported by circular turned pillars which is further carved with deep fluting and moulding with decorative motifs.

 The Mandapa or prayer hall is built upon a platform raised by about a foot higher from open hall or courtyard. The courtyard apart from giving a raised look to the temple serves as a platform for two more small temples and shines of God Mahadev and Kartikeya in the eastern direction with a large ornate gateway. The outer temple walls are depicting the reliefs of Lord Hanuman and Ganesha on both directions of south and north.

The rising tower of temple consists of shikhara over the garbhagriha chamber which has disc like structure at the top called amalaka it is further connects with Kalasha which is the topmost part of the temple.

Two more small temples on the courtyard also have shikhara. The Kalasha and Amalaka are made of gold and has shining effect throughout hundred years.

Internal wall of temple are decorated with carving, painting and wall reliefs. These art works narrate the stories from Hindu epics. The paintings are influenced from the art work of famous nineteenth century Indian artist known as Raja Ravi Verma. The pillars, walls and ceiling are highly ornamented.

Pictures of North wall before and during conservation

North wall has three sculptures of goddesses Sawaswati, Lakshmi and Gaja Lakshmi. South wall has three sculptures. On south wall there are three sculpture with Lord trimurti Shiva in the centre. This central sculpture is in metal, unlike the rest two which are in plaster. The rest two sculptures are of Ganga and Yamuna with their respective vahanas, viz, crocodile and tortoise. All the arches  have intricate carvings. 

The sanctum shown Lord Sat Narayana with four- armed, holding his iconic conch shell in the left hand and lotus in his right hand. On the doorway of main garbhagriha there are two doorkeeper(dwarpal) standing flanking and holding flowers. On the outer walls of each side of the sanctum have niches, each niche has an idols of God Brahma and Ram Dharbar on the western side. 

The temple with painting themes of Hinduism. there are  images of various characters of vegetables and fruits on the wall painting. The panels  and paintings show the Indian culture with western touch. The jewellery and clothing including dhoti, sari, kurta, lahanga, blouse,pleated skirt, dupatta, western suits etc.


Gilding is a decoration technique for applying a very thin coating of gold to solid surface such as metal,wood,porcelain,stone etc. the art of spreading ,either by mechanical or by chemical means over the solid surface for the purpose of ornament.

The application of gold on an architectural scale has always been a lavish expense. The art of gilding was known to the ancient according to the herodutus, the Egyptians were accustomed to gild wood and metals. Pliny gives the evidence of gilding seen at Rome was after the destruction of Carthage,when the Rome began to gild the ceilings of their temples and places.

In India gilding was not new to indian craftsmen. there are many temples, furnitures,  paintings, textiles where we can find abandon of gilding process especially during medieval times .

Modern gilding applied in numerous ornamental form of art. Gilding is largely used in decorative painting and ornamentation and also largely employed in book binding and ornamental leather work.


Gold gilding application is used in various and diverse surface and by various processes. There are two main methods of gilding. They are mechanical and chemical gilding. Mechanical gilding includes all the operation in which gild leaf is prepared and mechanically attach the gold on the surfaces. The technique includes burnishing, water gilding,and oil gilding.

In Sat Narayana temple mainly water gilding was done originally also in stucco work including few stucco work on painting and sculpture and later oil gilding was applied in conservation process in recent time. 

Chemical gilding is a process in which the gold is  applied  chemically. These involve cold gilding, wet gilding, fire gilding and depletion gilding. Fire gilding seems to have been used in making of  amalaka and kalasha of main shrine and two more small shrines at courtyard. 


The architectural elements of wall paintings were not clearly visible due to layer of grime and flaking layers. The sculptures and reliefs on the wall in all the four direction which consists  of elaborate carving and arches were colourfully painting with acrylic. The main shrine and two more small temple were repeated coated with synthetic colours leaving shikhara which is made of gold.

After many renovations and retouching over a period of time the Heritage Preservation Atelier (HPA) team was introduced to the temple to enhance the ethics of conservation of heritage property and study the heritage with the advanced and analytical technology like digital microscope etc. 

After carefully studying and researching the painting it was helpful to figure out the origin and artistic form. The original surface was done in water gilding including few stucco work.The major gold gilding stucco work was done in the painting characters, borders of the paintings, arches, doorway, few part of sculptures and main garbhagriha.

 The gilded work and stucco were damaged at many places. The under drawing was exposed because of the detached and lost stucco over it. The team carefully recreated the broken stucco at some places and regilding was done to match the original work by taking careful measure to retain as much of the original work as possible.


The complexity of the synthetic paint that has been repeatedly decorated for over one hundred years was carefully removed. After removing the over coated colour it gives the original work which survived and provide valuable insights into original work styles. It is also very essential to investigate the history of a particular temple before deciding any conservation work.

The broken stucco of painting and sculpture on walls and pillars were recreated. The next process is to apply the size, in gilding technique the term size means any materials used to seal the pores of a surface or serve as an adhesive. Oil type gold size is a varnish like liquid that is applied with a brush. The tacky touch depends on time  which also depend on atmospheric conditions, viz warm and humid weather, dry weather heartens the action, wet weather.

Gold leaf, despite its thinness and vulnerability is extremely hard- wearing. The whole leaves are used when gilding all over patterns and large solid areas. Loose gold can be cut by a pair of scissors depending on the line and curves of the solid surface. The position of gold leaf is placed precisely without any movement and hesitancy to avoid any risk of losing gold leaf.

Line the golden leaves up with the area you wish to cover and then  deposit it . Each fresh pieces of gold  should be applied so that the overlap all the point the same way. Gold which was applied loosely on the surface need to be pressed gently into close contact with the size.


The process of conservation by Heritage Preservation Atelier under the supervision of Namita Jaspal in Sat Narayana temple at Rampur Bushahr, gives encouragement to new interns and students from different part of country. Heritage conservation main objection  is to retain the originality of the heritage place and  preserve it from further destruction. 

The people of Rampur are very honest with their belief and faith. The pride and glory they have for Sat Narayana temple is unexplainable and quite enthusiastic. They have protected the temple from centuries . the temple is  still functioning for praying in prayer hall or mandapa . The entire procedure of analysis and conservation took over one year which do not require further treatment for many years

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