Members of Barrackpore Photolovers’ Association had explored on 24/7/2016 the adjacent areas of Birbhum and Bardhaman districts of West Bengal in its series of endeavour to uphold the rich cultural heritage of Bengal. This time it covered Ichai Ghoser Deul (15th-16th Century), Moukhira and Bankathi under Bardhaman district and Joydev, Ilambazar and Supur under Birbhum district.
BPA President and our mentor Sri Sambhu Bhattacharyya led the team to experience the finest examples of ‘Sikhara’temple and Deul of these two districts. The Deul of Ichai Ghosh or the Ichai Ghosher Deul,
as is commonly known, bears an interesting story behind. It was built far later by the followers of Ichai Ghosh, who offered himself to uphold the prestige of his caste ‘Sadgop’ in the battle against the kings of Pala dynasty. The 60feet tall brick built temple differs greatly from the curvilinear sikharas of Odisha. The square walls of the tower gradually slide inside to close at the top. Its Mastaka is lost. Initially the temple was devoid of idol. But from the cut brick figures of ‘Devi” on four walls it is almost certain that the temple was dedicated to ‘Durga’. The Devi figures set on the wall of the temples are highly aesthetic.
Moukhira , the heritage village of the district Bardhaman was the next destination of BPA members. It is just 3 km from Ilambazar, Birbhum. Moukhira came to light in the early 19th century as a village of temples most of which are now dilapidated and left neglected. Durga dalan (Paramananda Roy,1839) at Kalikapur
is a huge palace type of bewildering size, rivaled only by the Durga dalan of Rani Rashmoni at Kolkata. Just beside the Durga dalan
another equally huge and palace temple was built by Kailash Roy, son of Paramananda Roy in 1850s. The deity could not be placed due to family feud. Closed to Durga dalan there is ‘Rekha’ type Jora Shiva temple
made up of terracotta. At Moukhira proper, there is 45 feet high ‘Pancha Ratna’ Lakshmi Janardan temple and the Rashamondala built by the Roy family in the 19th Century. During the same time Roy family built also group of six small Shiva temples
four ‘Sikhara’ and two ‘Aatchala’ with terracotta in each door frame.
There from the team moved to Bankati under P.S. Kanksa at Bardhaman. Here the Mukhopadhyay family built small ‘Pancharatna’ Shiva temple
richly adorned with terracotta in the 19th Century. But the most attractive object is the copper Ratha preserved in a locked room beside the temple. It has finest carvings on the copper plate on Puranic themes.
Joydev Kenduli of Ilambazar, Birbhum was the next destination of BPA members. ‘Navaratna temple’ of Radhavinod
was established by Rajmata Nairani Devi of Bardhaman between 1683-1694. As per ASI Report (1923-24), the temple was built on the homestead of the celebrated poet Joydev who introduced himself as ‘Kenduli- Sambhava’ in the Geeta Govindam. The very richly terracotta adorned temple is more than 50 feet in height. Among the other 19th Century temples at Ilambazar visited by the members are superbly terracotta adorned octagonal temple at Bazar area
left in very poor conditions now, the small but beautiful Deul of Bazarpara regretfully painted during repairs
and the richly decorated ‘Pancharatna’ (30feet) of Lakshmi Janardan temple also at Bazarpara.
Last of BPA’s exploration in this trip was Supur, only 2km from Bolepur, However, it is ‘Surathpur’ of Puranic times. Most attractive is the ‘Jora Shiva Temple’ on the same ‘Adhisthana’
The octagonal one is one of the finest terrocota temple of Bengal. The other, a Birbhum type Sikhara temple also has fine terracotta plates. Both the 19th Century temples are more or less 25 feet in height.