City Faith – Radha Krishna Mandir, Sadar Bazaar, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The very air is steeped in absolute mindfulness. The place feels so private that you fear you have gate-crashed into somebody’s residence.
Such is the charm of Radha Krishna Mandir. A tiny temple hidden in a corner of the chaotic Gurgaon’s Sadar Bazaar, it has the character of a friendly neighbour. Although the temple is open to all, it is snuggled inside a courtyard lined with private houses. Perhaps one can visit this sacred spot solely to savour the pleasure of its courtyard, an endangered species in contemporary architecture, especially in a part of the Delhi region where every plot of land is meant to be installed with a high-rise.
The small gate opens into a small hall. It feels like a drawing room. Two comfy sofas lie on one side; the facing wall is crammed with giant speakers, perhaps they are used for kathas, jagrans and such prayer ceremonies. The tiled walls are sculpted with arched niches called taaks, another endangered species in contemporary architecture. The principal shrine lies within an inviting chamber at the centre of the hall. It has idols of various gods besides a blue velvety crib for baby Krishna.
A gallery runs around the shrine for parikrama. At this moment in the cloudless afternoon, the walls are looking animated with changing shapes of sunlight and shadows.
Sitting on the sofa brings calm. The bazaar noises appear like remote terrestrial signals emanating from some other planet. The familiar sounds from the households around the courtyard feel more reassuring—the long wail of a pressure cooker whistle, a woman’s muffled scolding, water falling into an empty plastic bucket. This is like a home away from home.
Inside a sacred courtyard