Brick Temple Towns of Bankura – Part IV : Joypur & Gokulnagar

Huge Terracotta Figures in Duttapara Temple, Joypur

Huge Terracotta Figures in Duttapara Temple, Joypur, Bankura

Joypur and Gokulnagar are two history enriched localities within close proximity of the popular tourist destination Bishnupur. However, due to lack of propaganda, you would find a few takers. Driving through the Joypur Reserve Forest near the State Highway 2, Joypur village is only 18 kms from Bishnupur.  Close To Joypur is Gokulnagar.

Joypur has two Nabaratna (Nine Pinnacled) terracotta temples at Depara and Duttapara. The local zamindar family of Dutta & De were prominent cloth merchants in the past. Gokulnagar is another two km in the interior of Joypur. Here is the Pancharatna (Five Pinnacled) Temple of Gokulchand inside a fortified enclosure. The temple is made of laterite stone.

Further driving down the highway for around 16 km, you may also reach another temple town of the yesteryear – Kotulpur. Kotulpur has several temples. The most significant are the structures inside a fortified enclosure at Bhadrapara, of which Pancha Ratna Sridhar temple and the “Giri Gobardhan” style temple are worth mentioning. The fortified residence of the Bhadra family is worth viewing too.

Hiring a private car from Bishnupur is the best option to visit these temple towns. Other way is to reach Tarakeshwar by local train and hire a car to visit the trio. In both ways the tour can be completed in a single day. I have tried both the option. In my opinion it is better to make this tour as an extension of your visit to Bishnupur. The day tour may be hectic for some tourists. Another interesting option is to stay at hotel named Banalata inside the Joypur Reserve Forest close to Joypur Range Office. There is a watch tower and a huge water body named Samudra Bandh.

It was through Bishnupur when I made my first visit to these temple towns along with two of my friends – Rangan Datta and Argha Guha. We boarded the Rupashi Bangla Express at 06:00 from Howrah and reached Bishnupur at 09:30. There was a pre-arranged car waiting for our arrival at the station.

JOURNEY TO JOYPUR

Joypur Reserve Forest

Joypur Reserve Forest, Bankura

Joypur is an hour’s drive from Bishnupur through a picturesque road besides the Joypur Reserve forest. The forest is of 120 square kilometers with a watch tower and an immense waterbody named Samudra Bandh inside it. The forest is home to quite a number of deers and birds. There is also a lodge named Banalata to stay in this forest.

On our way to the two temples at Joypur through the narrow village lane, we located some interesting structures. First we encountered a small renovated Rekh Deul and an Aatchala Temple with triple entrance on our left. There was a single terracotta figurine depicting two persons on a horse just above the entrance to the Deul. It seems that regular worship takes place here.

Deul & Ruined Aatchala Temple

Deul & Ruined Aatchala Temple, Joypur, Bankura

However, the Aatchala Temple is in a dilapidated stage. On its top panels some crude Dasavatar figues still exists. Also there is a small Goddess Durga statue as Mahishashur mardini in the same panel. On the side panels you get to see some scenes from Krishnalila like Bakasur Badh (slaying of the demon Bakasur).

Stucco work on ruined temple

Stucco work on ruined temple, Joypur, Bankura

Several other dilapidated Aatchala temple structures fell on the way. I found a flat roofed structure too with beautiful stucco work on it. The prathisthalipi (foundation seal) has cracked in and the vagaries of time have made it beyond recognition.

Ruined Decorated Gate

Ruined Decorated Gate, Joypur, Bankura

Immediately after that there was a decorated gate to an enclosure. The door was wooden, but the entrance structure was surely grand once upon a time. There was lots of stucco work visible on it. On the top was a pair of disproportionate lion figures with a small Ganesha statue just below it.

DATTA PARA NAVARATNA TEMPLE

Ancestral house of Dutta Family

Ancestral house of Dutta Family, Joypur, Bankura

We continued our walk until we came to the huge but ruined ancestral residence of the Dutta family. In the past the family was famous cloth merchants. With their clients ranging up to Punjab, Jallandhar and Amritsar, the Duttas had a flourishing business of manufacturing Kete Handloom Cloth. However, since the last three generations it is not the same. The present generation has Mr. Subash Dutta as its family head.

Walking a bit further, we came to our first highlighted spot of Joypur on our right – the Navaratna Temple of RadhaDamdor & Goddess Chandi at Dutta Para. We walked through a small passage besides the temple to reach to its entrance.

Dutta Para Navaratna Temple

Dutta Para Navaratna Temple, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bakura

Standing on a square base, the south facing two storied Navartana temple is approximately 40 feet tall. Though no foundation date has been recovered, this temple like many others of same style constructed by Zamindars and Rich Merchants is assumed to be of 19th century. All the nine ratnas are ridged rekha pinnacles. Four of them are placed on the roof of first floor, while the rest five are on the top of the second floor.

Triple arched south entrance with decorative panels

Triple arched south entrance with decorative panels, Joypur, Bankura

The temple has two triple arched entrances from eastern and southern side. In the ground floor, only these two sides have terracotta works on them except the base panels. The other sides of the ground floor have blank decaying walls, which is why it looks run down from the road.

On the Top floor there is a triple arched gateway on the southern side with terracotta works on its arch panels too. On the other three sides of this floor there is triple ached structure too, but there are no gateways. Instead three huge figures stand on each side.  There are decorations on arch panels on all these three sides too. I did not find much detailed description of the top panels in any book, so I had to take references from our epics – Ramayana & Mahabharata, Puranas, Mangal Kavyas (Local Narratives of Bengal) and  refer to my friends having knowledge in Hindu iconography.

DETAILS DESCRIPTION OF DUTTA PARA TEMPLE’S PANELS

South facing side or the main entrance (Ground Floor)

Central Arch Panel - Southern Side, Dutta Para Temple

Central Arch Panel – Southern Side, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The central arch panel is divided into two parts. The top part shows  Krishna and Radha with the Gopinis. The lower part is divided into two. The right part shows Rama as king with Sita (with a cute little monkey most probably Hanuman) and the left in shows an interesting panel of a figure sitting on a throne flanked by three women and a man. On close observation, one will notice that the figure sitting on the throne is of a woman. This figure depicts “RaiRaja” which is Radha instead of Krishna as the king.

Similar panels of Rai Raja can be observed at Sridhar Temple of Bishnupur too. That panel is actually in much detail. I plan to highlight such panels of Rai Raja in many other temples as well the history behind the concept in a following blog.

Battle between Arjun & Karna as in Mahabharata - Right Arch Panel, Southern Side

Battle between Arjun & Karna as in Mahabharata- Left Arch Panel, Southern Side

The right arch panel shows the much popular panel of battle between Ram and Ravana from Ramayana, while the left arch panel shows Arjun and Karna fighting with each during the battle of Kuruskhetra as in Mahabarata. It is easy to identify Arjun easily as one can see Krishna as the charioteer.

Upper Wall Double Panel with Foundation Stone

Upper Wall Double Panel with Foundation Stone, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

 Just above the arch panels, there is a double rowed arch shaped wall panel decorated with terracotta works. The lower arch has got some fascinating terracotta works on it. In the centre of the upper arch is the “Prathisthalipi” (foundation stone). Unfortunately the vagaries of time have removed almost all the text and nothing can be made out.

From the left chronologically the  lower wall panels are as follows

1. A mythological character
2. Krishna’s Bakasur Badh
3. “Naukavilas” scenario from Krishnalila,
4. Four Gandharvas playing musical instruments
5. Krishna planting Parijat tree with Satyabhama
6. Five Kinnars (Nymphs) playing musical instruments
7. Krishna and Gopinis with Barayi
8. Krishna and Balaram pulling down Mathura’s king Kangsha
9. Two figure’s of Vishnu’s Vahana – Garura

Some of the photographs of the panels with detailed description are given below

A mythological character -  known as Amittej purushmurti. It is an iconic representation of powerful manhood.

A mythological character – known as Amit Tej Purushmurti. It is an iconic representation of powerful manhood.

 Four Gandharvas (Heavenly figures who were partly animal and excellent musicians) playing instruments like Tabla, Dholak and Violin. Kinnars (Nymphs) were also excellent musicians.

Four Gandharvas (Heavenly figures who were partly animal and excellent musicians) playing instruments like Tabla, Dholak and Violin. Kinnars (Nymphs) were also excellent musicians

Krishna planting Parijat tree with Satyabhama at Dwaraka

Krishna planting Parijat tree with Satyabhama at Dwaraka

Krishna had earlier uprooted the tree from Garden of Indra to please Satyabhama. The way Krishna is sitting with Satyabhama, the way the ground in front of them looks dug and the Mural of a small tree with flower in the background wall is crafted, gives me to conclude as this to be the Parijat Tree. Some suggested this to Krishna and Radha to be playing dice, but the posture of the figures nullifies that theory.

 Krishna and Balaram pulling down Kangsha from the throne of Mathura

Krishna and Balaram pulling down Kangsha from the throne of Mathura

Garura – the Vahana of Lord Bishnu. Garura has two figures here, one with folded hands promptly displaying his wings. The other shows him devouring Gaja – Kacchap (Elephant & Tortoise)

Garura – the Vahana of Lord Bishnu. Garura has two figures here, one with folded hands promptly displaying his wings. The other shows him devouring Gaja – Kacchap (Elephant & Tortoise)

It may be worth mentioning here that two brothers Supritika and Vibhavasu, from each other’s curse, had become an elephant and a giant Tortoise. They constantly were fighting with each other. One Day Garur lifted both in his huge claws and devoured them for his lunch!

Woodwork of Dasavatar statues on temple door

Woodwork of Dasavatar statues on temple door, Joypur

The upper arch shaped panel has different figures from social life, including some European figures; however the details are inferior as compared to the lower arch panels.The side panel walls have mainly Dasavatar statues, some of which has got white washed. Ironically there is no terracotta work in the base panel. However the wooden door inside the temple which leads to its inner sanctum compensates with its decoration of wood worked Dasavatar.

Such type of wood work in temple doors can be found aplenty in the temples of Daspur at Medinipur.

South facing side or Front entrance (Top Floor)

This side has triple entrance with terracotta work on its arch panels. The terracotta work the arch panels in this part of the second floor is rather crude. Just above them near the pinnacles is a row of figure of musicians, maximum headless.

Panels on Top floor Southern Face, Duttapara Temple

Panels on Top floor Southern Face, Duttapara Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The centre panels show Bhishma in Sharashajja (Bed of Arrows) – a scene from Mahabharata. The right arch panel shows Krishna Kali, where Radha is worshipping Krishna as Kali when her husband Ayan Ghosh with a sword comes to investigate. The left panel depicts five warriors discussing amongst themselves, which depicts the Pandava princes of Mahabharata.

Krishna transferring himself into Goddess Kali , as Ayan Ghosh rushes in to catch him and Radha red handed.

Krishna transferring himself into Goddess Kali , as Ayan Ghosh rushes in to catch him and Radha red handed.  At Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The story of Radha worshiping Krishna Kali goes like this. Radha’s husband Ayan Ghosh always suspected his wife and Krishna having an affair. Informed by Kutila, Ayan Ghosh rushed with a sword inside a room where Radha was supposed to be alone with Krishna. However, Krishna transformed himself into Kali when Ayan Ghosh came in . A bewildered Ayan Ghosh finds Radha worshiping Goddess Kali, instead of being with Krishna. This is Krishna Kali or Kali as Krishna – a popular Folk tale of Bengal.

Generally Krishna Kali has four hands. In some cases there are six hands too. In Kolkata Krishna Kali is being worshiped in the house of Banerjees at Sri Gopal Mallik Lane off College Square. Here the idol has six hands.

East facing side or the Side entrance (Ground Floor)

Since this side faces the boundary wall and the passage between the wall and the temple is narrow, it is difficult to take a straight shot, unless you have a ladder. Besides some electricity wires hang irritably in between. I squeezed my back to the wall and started shooting.

The central arch panel and the right panel is divided into sub panels, whilst the left has one single panel.

Left Arch Panel - Eastern Wall, First Floor

Left Arch Panel – Eastern Wall, First Floor, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

In the central arch panel, the upper part shows Gour and Nitai (one headless) dancing with his followers and the lower panel shows Chaitanya in “Bhab Samadhi” (Deep Meditation).

Central Arch Panel - Eastern Wall, First Floor

Right Arch Panel – Eastern Wall, First Floor, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

In the right arch panel, the upper part depicts Krishna engaged in “GoshtoLila” alias taking the cows for grazing as a shepherd. The lower part depicts two Shadabhuja (Six armed) Gouranga (one defaced) and a headless Bishnu in Ananta shayana posture.

Left Arch Panel - Eastern Wall, First Floor

Left Arch Panel – Eastern Wall, First Floor, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The left arch panel depicts a rather detailed work of Krishna leaving for Mathura on Akrur’s chariot, whilst the Gopinis trying to stop him. Lower to it are a row of ducks (obstructed by some wires). This pattern of decoration with ducks is locally known as “Hangsha Lata”

The wall panels just above the arch panels consist of small but very interesting sub panels too.

It is impossible to view this top wall panel from the ground inside the temple complex. Even from outside one  with a zoom lens one cannot view some of the sub panels clearly because of the trees growing near the wall. Only if you can manage to climb up the wall (!), you may get a chance to view them

From the left sequentially it first shows Kamale Kamini – a scene from Bengal’s Chandi Mangal (one of the Medieval Bengali literature), A sick Krishna asking Satyabhama and his other wives for dust of their feet as medicine,  Sage Narada with a Veena in hand conveying request of  Krishna for the dust of her feet to Radha, Hara Parvati on Bullock and Narada riding on his Dhenki (Husking Pedal), Krishna busying himself churning the milk and finally a row of Hindu Gods. Some of the photographs of this panel are displayed below.

Sage Narada with a Veena  in hand asking from Radha for the dust of her feet  to cure Krishna's disease

Sage Narada with a Veena in hand asking from Radha for the dust of her feet to cure Krishna’s disease

Hara Parvati on Bullock and Narada on his Vahana Dhenki ( Husking Pedal)

Hara Parvati on Bullock and Narada on his Vahana Dhenki ( Husking Pedal)

Krishna busying himself churning the milk

Krishna busying himself churning the milk, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

East Facing side or the Side entrance (Top Floor)

This side has triple entrance too. To view it one has to come out of the temple enclosure and look at it from outside.

Top Floor - Eastern side panels

Top Floor – Eastern side panels, Dutta Para Temple, Joypur, Bankura

As mentioned earlier, the triple entrance is blocked with huge terracotta figurines. The pillars of the entrance are decorated. The central arch panel is severally damaged beyond recognition. The left panel shows three figures having discussions, two having sickles in their hand. Till date, I have not been able to identify this panel. The right panel figurines are identifiable and depict Gour Nitai. Again here you see a row of musicians above the arch panels.

West facing side or Side facing the small lane ( Top Floor)

The ground floor is devoid of any terracotta even on the upper arch panels, so one may think that the top floor is devoid of any terracotta work. Moreover you cannot see the top from ground level standing in that narrow entrance passage.

You actually have to get to the top floor of the adjacent house having a terrace and then you can view the second floor from an angle. The view is just like the east facing side. The terracotta figurines are in better shapes. Only one of the musicians above arch panel has lost its head and the rest are intact.

Central Panel - West Side , Top floor. Picture. Photo courtesy : - Debashis Das Roy

Central Panel – West Side , Top floor. Photo courtesy : – Debashis Das Roy

Among the arch panels I could identify the central as Gajalakshmi (Goddess Lakshmi with four elephants).

Left Panel - East Side, Top Floor. Photo courtesy : - Debashis Das Roy

Right Arch Panel – West Side, Top Floor.  Photo courtesy – Debashis Das Roy

The Right arch panel has a four handed female figure on a bullock with two ladies fanning her from each side. On all probabilities this is Shivani – one of the Saptamatrikas (Seven goddesses). Sivani is four handed and holds a vajra, rosary, trident and a parasu and sits on a bullock. She is also worshiped as Maheswari, but in Bengal she is known as Shivani.

Right Panel - West Side, Top Floor. Photo courtesy - Debashis Ghosh Roy

Left Arch Panel – West Side, Top Floor. Photo courtesy – Debashis Das Roy

The right arch panel shows Shiva & Parvati on his Vahana Nandi (Bullock) along with Indra with his wife Sachi sitting on his Vahana Airavat (Elephant). The heads of the Vahanas seems to be merged together or having a common head.

Such a scenario is seen in Madhubani paintings too.

A similar structure can be seen made in stone in Airavateshawara temple, Darasuram at Tamil Nadu. However in that structure there is only Nandi & Airabat with common head. A link to the image taken by Vaithiya Nathan K is shared below

Airavateswara Temple, Darasuram

Some infer from this merge that Shiva being a Hindu God and Indra being a Vedic God, this may represent that in later stage of Hinduism; Vedic gods were absorbed by Hindu Gods.

North Facing side or the view from the road ( Top Floor)

Here also the ground floor is devoid of any terracotta. Although we could view the terracotta works of the top floor, it was almost impossible to photograph during my last two visits to the temple because of undergrowth growing on it. Recently the owners – the Duttas, whose present house is just on the opposite side of side of the temple, have cleared it.

Goddess Durga, North Side, Left Panel, Top Floor. Photo courtesy - Debashis Ghosh Roy

Goddess Durga, North Side, Right Panel, Top Floor. Photo courtesy – Debashis Das Roy

Similar to North and East face, this side has three false entrances with huge figures. The musicians panels have less headless figures. Apart from Krishna Lila scenes in centre (Vastraharan scenario – stealing of Gopini’s garments) and severely damaged Kaliadaman(taming of Kaliya Serpent) scenario on left panel, the most interesting panel is of that of the right which features  Goddess Durga  as Mahishashurmardini ( Slayer of the demon Mahishashur) along with her full family.

DE PARA NAVARATNA TEMPLE

After visiting the Dattapara temple, we walked further a bit to reach the Depara. Like the Duttas, the De family was also famed cloth merchants in the past. They manufactured Kutni clothes which is made out of natural vegetable dyed, vegetarian silk and cotton yarns. At present the family head is Biswarup De.

At Depara there is another Navaratna temple which is also around 40 feet in height. However the base is much higher than the Datta Para temple and has two different flights of stairs to climb on. The Temple was inside the household area. There was a deep well in front of the temple.

Depara Nabaratna Temple, Joypur

Depara Nabaratna Temple, Joypur, Bankura

One member of the De family had a talk with us. Like the Duttas, this temple was maintained by the family owners. The temple had a similar structure as that of the previous temples with nine ridged rekha pinnacles of similar placement. The entrances was also from southern & eastern side with interconnected corridors in the inner portion. The temple is two storied. In the Top  there is triple entrance arched gateways in all the three sides, except the back (the northern side).

Top Floors of the Temple

Southern side , Top Floor, Depara Temple

Southern side , Top Floor, Depara Temple, Joypur, Bankura

However there is no terracotta work on the arch panels of the top floor.  Only at the edge of the roof there are two small terracotta figures. In fact the design of the wall panels is such that it does not seem there was any terracotta work ever. On a closer look with a zoom lens, it seems there was fresco work once upon a time. Maybe to compensate the blank panels, the arch panels of ground floor is subdivided into numerous sub panels, instead of being restricted to one of two panels. In addition, there are several terracotta panels besides doorways in the inner walls of the temple.

Inner Walls of the Temple

Ganesh in Terracotta, Inner walls, Depara temple

Ganesh in terracotta, Inner walls, Depara temple, Joypur, Bankura

Colorful Entrance, Depara Temple

Colorful Entrance, Depara Temple

The two doorways (on southern and eastern side) to inner sanctum have colored decorations of birds, flowers and plants. Unlike its neighboring temple, De para temple has numerous terracotta panels on the walls of the corridors in two rows besides both sides of the each door. Worth mentioning panels include a Ganesh Statue, Wresting scenario, Churning of milk, Goddess Manasa, Saraswati, Shiva, Krishna Lila, Violin player, gunman etc. Except a few, most of the interiors panels are rather crude.

Here the door was open, so I took quite a number of shots of the door with deity. However there no woodwork on the door in this temple.

Ground Floor – Southern Side entrance panels

 Ground Floor, Southern Side, Depara Temple

Ground Floor, Southern Side, Depara Temple, Joypur, Bankura

On the central arch panel, the first three sub panels depicts scenario after Ram accented the throne at Ayodha. First two sub panels have nobleman, saints, and monkey soldiers standing besides Ram and Sita on the throne.

Ram fighting against his on to release the Aswamedha Horse

Ram fighting against his sons to release the Aswamedha Horse

The third sub panel depicts a rather interesting scenario from Ramayana. It shows Rama fighting unknowingly against his sons to retrieve the horse of Aswamedh with Rishi Valmiki intervening.

Here Hanuman is seen standing beyond Rama. Beyond Lava and Kush. The soldiers and brothers of Rama can be seen tied up along with the horse of Aswamedh. As if in anticlimax the last sub panel which is just above the entrance of temple shows two rather de-shaped lions facing each other on a floral background.

Rama shooting at Marich Demon, who is disguised as a Golden Deer

Rama shooting at Marich Demon, who is disguised as a Golden Deer

The left arch panel is mainly a single panel showing the battle between Ram and Ravana from Ramayana in details. Looking closely one can find a very small sub panel below which depicts Ram shooting an arrow at the golden deer, which is Marich Demon in disguise.

 processions with palanquins and musicians

Processions with palanquins and musicians, Depara Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The right arch panel is subdivided into three sub panels, with first two displaying processions with palanquins and musicians. The third shows a band of musicians. The second panel is severally damaged and is being cemented in an unskilled manner. Worse, several wires have been fixed to that portion which is an eyesore.

Woman worshipping Shiva Lingam

Woman worshiping Shiva Lingam

There are four vertical panels between the arch panels, which is divided into sub panels depicting single figures, Also there is circular panel above the arch panels which is divided similarly. These display Dasavatar, Six handed Krishna, warriors. There was a mini panel of “Vastraharan” scenario with only two women under a tree pleading to Krishna to return their clothes. One figure standing with a sinister looking axe looked like Parashuram.

The outer wall has small figurines on the two vertical wall panels and the upper curved wall panels depicting interesting  scenarios like woman worshiping Shiva Lingam, Nobleman on horse, Sage playing Veena, Woman entertaining dog. We even spotted a small plaque of Krishna on Garura on the upper side of the right vertical panel.

Ground Floor –Eastern Side entrance panels

Central Arch Panel, Eastern Side, Ground Floor,

Central Arch Panel, Eastern Side, Ground Floor with foundation stone

The arch panels are quite interesting here. Also this face has a prominent Prathishalipi ( Foundation stone ) placed on the pillar between the middle and left arch panel, where it says that the temple was constructed in the Bengali year 1250, i.e. the year 1843 as per the English calendar. The middle arch panel is divided into two sub panels, the upper shows Krishna with several gopinis, while the other shows Krishna busy in NaukaVilas (Boat Ride) with Gopinis. Like Dutta Para temple you get to see Barayi with the Gopinis too. Barayi was the old woman who played a functional role in blossoming the love between Krishna & Radha.

Right arch panel , Eastern side of Ground Floor, De para Temple

Left arch panel , Eastern side of Ground Floor, De para Temple, Joypur

The left arch panel is subdivided into two. The upper part shows Krishna leaving for Mathura in Akrur’s chariot whilst the Gopinis blocking his way. The lower part shows Radha crying with other Gopinis for Krishna’s departure to Mathura.

Srimanta Merchant viewing " Kamale Kamini" - scenario from Chandi Mangal

Srimanta Merchant viewing ” Kamale Kamini” – scenario from Chandi Mangal.  At Depara Navaratana Temple, Joypur, Bankura

The right arch panel is the most interesting. Designed in three tiers, this panel portrays famous scenario from Chandi Mangal (One of Bengal’s traditional religious narratives) – Srimanta Merchant viewing Kamale Kamini from his boat.  Kamale Kamini (Maid of the lotus) represents a Goddess sitting on a lotus in the sea engulfing an elephant. As discussed we previously viewed a similar panel at Dutta para temple, but this one was outstanding.

The first tier shows Srimanta Merchant smoking from the mouthpiece of Hookah sitting on a boat with his subjects. Just besides this boat the Goddess can be seen on the lotus with a small elephant in her hand.

The water Jar of the Hookah is actually being held by another person sitting on a boat in the second sub panel and the pipe passes through to the merchant to the first tier. In the middle of the second panel there are two more boats. In one of them a woman is peeping through the window. The third boat is full of soldiers and so are the two boats in the third tier or sub panel. There is a headless peacock between last two boats.

Man Blowing Trumpet

Man Blowing Trumpet

Kamale Kamini is a common subject in Bengal Terracotta temples. However such detailed panel of the theme with so many numbers of boats suggests that the De Family in their haydays as cloth merchant had much fascination towards sea travel and boats. Such detailed panel work definitely suggests a show off of their wealth and status.

Like the Southern side the eastern side also has four columns between the arch panels and a arch shaped wall panels above it displaying several terracotta figurines. The outer wall panels both vertical and horizontal panels too have several tiny sub panels. The panels show Dasavatar, several social scenes, scenes from Krishnalila, hunting scenes, musicians. I was particularly impressed with a man climbing up a coconut tree, man smoking hookah and a  man blowing trumpet, some hunting scenes and Yama – the God of death sitting on Ox.

Rasmancha at Depara

Rasmancha at Depara, Joypur, Bankura

Just a few minutes from the De para temple, there is an Octagonal Rasmancha. However, it has no terracotta work on it.


THE SMALL LOCALITY OF GOKULNAGAR

Our driver who had followed us to the Rasmnacha now turned the car. We headed for Gokulnagar now, which is just adjacent to Joypur. Just after crossing the Dey and Dutta Household, there is a small path on the left. The path takes you to a village road with several trees. Take a left turn and drive straight to reach the Gokulnagar Railway Station near Salda village. Only a solitary Train passing from Bankura to Maynapur passes through this station on each Tuesday evening and returns back to Bankura the same day – 1 hour later! This line is supposed link Bishnupur and Tarakeswar, but regular trains are to yet operate.

Gokulnagar Railway Station

Gokulnagar Railway Station, Bankura

The local school teacher of Salda Village Mr. Kalishankar Roy informed us that there used to be a cluster of Deul temples in this area, which used to known as Deulbhira. During Muslim invasion, Kalapahar had destroyed these temples. The stone slabs of these temples were lying unattended in a cluster for several years, until ignorant road contractors used them to build roads during the 1970s, thus letting important historical evidence get lost in the oblivion.

The main attraction of Gokulnagar is the Laterite stone built Pancharatna temple of Gokulchand inside a fortified enclosure. The other temple which exists at Gokulnagar is a much renovated short Deul temple of Gandheswar Shiva.

Many statues have been found from Gokulnagar, which now can be seen at Bangiya Sahitya Parishad’s Musuem at Bishnupur. Out of the many idols recovered from here one huge black stone statue of Vishnu in Anantashayan posture is perhaps the best. This idol was lying unattended besides the temple for years and locals used to paint vermillion on it.

The famous archeologist Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay mentions this Pal era sculpture as “A beautiful idol discovered by J.C. French outside a temple near Joypur in Bankura District” in one of his article Dakkhin Paschim Banger Shilpa (Art of South West Bengal) in the famous Bengali Magazine Prabasi in 1929 (In Bengali – Magh, 1336).  He even compared it with the Anantashayan Bihsnu Idol of Vishnupad Temple of Gaya.

Earlier to that Joseph Charles French mentions this idol too in his book “The Art of the Pal Empire of Bengal” (First Published in 1928 by Oxford University Press). In a list of artifacts he mentions “ XXIV. ANANTA NARAYANA (Vishnu lying on the snake). Stone. 2 ft. in length. In the wall outside a temple near Joypur, district Bankura, Bengal. Tenth Century.

Bishnu in Anantashayan Posture from the book " Bankura Jelar Purakirti". Photograph by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhyay

Bishnu in Anantashayan Posture from the book ” Bankura Jelar Purakirti”. Photograph by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhyay

Temples of Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple with Nat Mandap, Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple with Nat Mandap, Gokulnagar, Bankura

If you are coming from Joypur, you need to cross the railway station and land up on a metal road. You have to take right turn and  negotiate a railway crossing and  drive to the Gokulchand temple though the metal road. Just before the Railway crossing, at a distance on the left is the small renovated Deul temple of Gandheswar Shiva.

Gandheswari Shiva Temple, Gokulnagar

Gandheswari Shiva Temple, Gokulnagar, Bankura

Giant abandoned Shivalinga

Giant abandoned Shivalinga

On my first visit I was not aware of the existence of the Gandheswar Shiva temple. It houses perhaps one of the huge Shivalingam of the Bankura district, inside its dark Garvagriha (inner sanctum). On Thursday people come in huge number to pay homage. On the second visit I was unlucky to arrive on Thursday, and thus did not have the opportunity to visit the interiors.

However on the way to the Gokulchand temple, we could spot an abandoned Huge Shiva Lingam on the road, which gave me a fair idea about the size of the lingam at the Gandheswar Shiva temple.

Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar, Bankura

Driving from the Railway crossing, the East facing Gokulchand Temple falls on your left. As per information in the book “Bankura Jelar Purakirti” (Archeological Feats of Bankura Zila) published by West Bengal State Archelogy, the temple is around 45 feet (13.7 meter) in height and about same dimension in length & breath. Tallest amongst the stone temple in Bankura, the temple has triple arched gateway on its three sides. It stands a raised platform also made of laterite stone and there is a circumambulatory outer corridor on all sides like all the prominent temples of Bishnupur. Similarly inside the gateways there are wide corridors too.

Fortification outside Gokulchand Temple

Fortification outside Gokulchand Temple

The Temple is located inside a fortified wall with an impressive gate. Some portion of the wall has broken down. Just opposite to the temple is  a flat roofed  59 feet wide Natmandap. Its roof has collapsed since long, but the pillars and the arched gateways are still intact. There is a small stone Tulsimancha between these two structures. At present the Temple is under the protection of Archeological Survey of India (ASI).

Natmandap with a raised platform in front

Natmandap with a raised platform in front, Gokulnagar, Bankura

However it was not before 1996 that the temple was undertaken by ASI. By that time several stone slabs have been stolen by the local contractors by breaking down a portion of its fortified wall. There are many slabs of stone still scattered inside the temple premises.

Stone slabs scattered inside the premises of Gokulchand Temple. On the right on the decorated gates of the Natmandap is visible

Stone slabs scattered inside the premises of Gokulchand Temple. On the right one of the decorated gates of the Natmandap is visible.

Out the Five Pinnacles, the one in the centre is a huge octagonal structure. The rest four has quadrangular and are small sizes. All the pinnacles has ridged roof. Each of the pinnacles is extremely stylish in their design and the overall structure of the temple is evenly poised and balanced.

Idol of Snake God Manasa near the temple

Idol of Snake God Manasa near the temple

We entered the complex through the Gateway. Just besides the structure, there is a roofless platform housing some idols of the snake God – Manasa.

Southern side walls with the foundation stone in the middle

Southern side walls with the foundation stone in the middle, Gokulchand Temple

There are several sculptures on the Eastern and Southern wall of the temple in the well defined square panels. With the vagaries of time, they have eroded out severly, but nevertheless I could recognize some Dasvatars and Krishnalila panels. In one of the upper wall I could spot some dancing figures. On the top of Western wall, there is a prominent statue of Bishnu’s Vamana Avatar.

Wall Panels, Gokulchand Temple

Wall Panels, Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar, Bankura

Vishnu's Vamana Avatar - Western Wall of Gokulchand Temple

Vishnu’s Vamana Avatar – Western Wall of Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar

The foundation stone on the Southern Wall of the temple is illegible at present. As per the experts the temple was constructed during the rule of King Ragunath Singh – I on the year 1643.  The signboard of ASI outside the temple also says so. There is a popular belief that the temple was constructed during the rule of one king Chandra Malla in 1460. However, since he ruled much before King Hambhir, chances are that this is actually a myth. This is because such giant temples were being constructed only after King Hambhir was influenced by Vaishnav Religion. There is no idol in the temple, but a photograph of the idol is being worshiped regularly.  The real idol adorns the temple only during the Rash Festival.

Gokulchand Temple as viewed through gates of Natmandap. The geometrical pattern suggests workmanship of skilled "Sutradhar" artisans.

Gokulchand Temple as viewed through gates of Natmandap. The geometrical pattern suggest workmanship of skilled “Sutradhar” artisans.

In my opinion the drastic difference between the 17th and 19th century terracotta temples are their shapes and style. The former looks more planned and methodical with the temple structure being well defined and the panels laid out in a systematic pattern, while the latter seems to have tendency to bit overdo with too much variety of style and patterns resulting in bit overstuffing. This seems to differentiate the temple style during the time of  Kings and Zamindars.

This is because in the 17th century the temples were made by the Sutradhars and by the time of 19th century, the terracotta plaques and temples were made mostly by the Kumbhakar. The Sutradhars had a much better art sense.

Besides the 19th century Brick Temples were made by the Zamindars and the Businessman from their share of profit in their business as a symbol of wealth and status. The uses of multiple pinnacles were to show off, rather than art. In maximum cases they looked disproportionate with the structure of the temple.

Nevertheless the 19th century temples like the two at Joypur have many unique panels on their walls to surprise the visitors.

 A decaying work of art at Gokulnagar

Apart from the Gokulchand Temple, there is another interesting work of art at Gokulnagar lying in sheer neglect in the open. Most of the visitors to Gokulnagar are not aware of even its existence. However I was lucky to be guided previously mentioned Mr. Kalishankar Roy.

Kalishankar Roy guiding us through the trees on the raised mound

Kalishankar Roy guiding us through the trees on the raised mound

We walked down to the Railway crossing from the temple premises. Guided by Mr. Roy we took a right turn and started walking besides the Railway tracks. After walking for around five minutes, we reached to a small water body on our right. We went down from the railway tracks and walked towards what looked a n elevated mound covered by thick foliage and trees.

Mr. Roy took us took us through a barely visible path. You need to be careful to walk here as the place is full of dirt and cow dungs . The place smells badly too. At the end of the mound there is an elevated ground. The school teacher removed some of the foliages and we joined too. After we cleaned the place, I stood amazed at the structure in front of us. It was around 2 feet sized statue of Varaha Murti made of Chlorite stone dug deep into the ground!

Baraha Statue on the top a mound near Gokulnaga

Baraha Statue on the top a mound near Gokulnagar, Bankura

The stone Slab on which it was resting indicates of a temple remains. The Statue is heavily damaged and has lost all of its arms except one. However the palm of that arm is missing too. Its legs and rest of the body is dug deep into the ground and I guess it is impossible to remove it unless you dig up the whole mound. The head and chest is intact. The statue has an excellent decorative head gear. It is a unique kind of artwork, lying in utter neglect.

Severely Damaged Chlorite Varaha Statue, Gokulnagar

Severely Damaged Chlorite Stone Varaha Statue, Gokulnagar. Bankura

Mr. Kalishankar Roy explained that several attempts have been made to dig up the statue but for various logistics and other problem it has not been possible yet to dig up this statue and remove it to the sanctity of a museum. This is surprising as many such artifacts has been recovered from the area and are stored in different museums.

Thanking Mr. Roy for his cooperation we headed for our final destination of the day to the next Brick Temple town – Kotulpur.

Joypur Gokulnagar Map

Joypur Gokulnagar Map

References :

1. Bankura Jelar Purakirti (Archeological Feats of Bankura Zila) by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhyay

2. Joypurer Duti Mandir (Two Temples of Joypur) By Chittaranjan Dasgupta published in Kaushiki Magazine

3. Dakkhin Paschim Banger Shilpa (Southern West Bengal’s Art)by Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay in Prabasi Magazine, Magh 1336 (1920)

4. The art of the Pal Empire of Bengal by J.C.French , Oxford University Press (1928)

5. “Kali as avatar of Krishna” by Soumitra Das.The Telegraph, November 14 , 2012

Sincere Thanks to :

1. Devashis Nandy
2. Banani Bhattacharya
3. Shyamal Chatterjee
4. Kalishankar Roy

15 thoughts on “Brick Temple Towns of Bankura – Part IV : Joypur & Gokulnagar

  1. Shyamal Chatterji says:

    What a painstaking effort ! Great !
    Appreciate the panels : (1) Narada & Radha – BTW, what was Krsna ailing from ? (2) Krsna planting ‘Parijat’n , (3) the big figures and (4) Rama fighting Lava-Kusha.
    Sad to learn about the ‘Varaha’dev.

    Do u hv contact no of ‘Banalata’ ?

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Thanks for your comments.

      1. Krishna was not ailing from any thing actually. It was a test to teach his wives Rukmini, Satyabhama and other a lesson who were jealous of Radha . He asked for foot dust of one of his Bhaktas as his medicine. The wives were scared that it will be a Paap (sinful act) and nobody obliged.

      Then Narada went to Radha who obliged saying she is not bothered about Paap as it is Krishna who looks after My paaps and punyas.

      2. Yes ‘Varaha’dev. statue is a sad affair.

      3. In the web, a number is given of the Banalata Lodge : 03244 249234

  2. traveller says:

    thank you for your effort and detail study of that area.this is an area which is rich in history. Not only the temples but if you can spare some more time there you can see idol of deities worshipped and preserved by families there are also a masterpiece of fine art work.even one will find idols lying under tree shades unattended and uncared for are artworks of excellece..your interest deserve high appreciation..

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Good to know you liked it. Yes… there are such artworks which lie around.

      In this article I have already mentioned about a Vishnu idol which was lying unattended for years at Gokulnagar, which has been finally restored to Bishnupur Museum.

  3. traveller says:

    local people found two huge idols, one resembles baraha avtar of lord bishnu another of devi chandi while digging a pond near salda primary school. these two idols preserved in that area are the finest quality of craft work.

    • AMITABHA GUPTA says:

      Yes… You are right. I have their photographs too with me…my friend Somen Sengupta had seen them during his visit…..but when I last visited Gokulnagar nobody could tell me of their whereabouts. Then one local told me that those have been re-located to the Bishnupur Muesuem.

      I found one Varaha Idol which once was part of Sapta Ratha temple at Gokulnagar. That was half fixed inside earth and is nearby to the Gokulnagar Temple

  4. Pradip Kundu says:

    Mr.Amitabha Gupta, আমি জয়পুর বনসংরক্ষণ অফিসের উত্তরে মাত্র চার কিলোমিটার দূরে গোপালনগর গ্রামে বাস করি। কিন্তু আপনি জয়পুর থেকে এত দূরে বাস করেও যেভাবে এখানে এসে মন্দিরগুলি পর্যবেক্ষণ করে এত নিঁখুতভাবে বর্ণনা দিয়েছেন যে, এভাবে আমাদের এলাকার কারো পক্ষেই ইতিপূর্বে সম্ভব হয়নি। আপনার এরকম নিঁখুতভাবে বর্ণনা দেওয়ার জন্য এবং আমদের এলাকায় আসার জন্য আপনাকে আন্তরিক ধন্যবাদ জানাই।
    পরবর্তী সময়ে এরকম একাধিক দর্শনীয় স্থানের বর্ণনা দিয়ে ভ্রমণ পিপাসু মানুষের পিপাসা নিবারণে একইভাবে সামিল হন।।।।।।।।।
    ধন্যবাদ।।।।

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