After our memorable trip to Joypur & Gokulnagar, we went to visit our third destination of the day – Kotulpur.
The metal road lined with trees in front of the Gokulchand Temple took us to another part of the highway bypassing Salda village. You need to turn right and drive straight to Kotulpur. It takes around half an hour to reach the place. Kotulpur is quite a big locality.
On the main road there is a small statue of Khudiram Bose – one of the youngest revolutionaries in the Indian independence movement. We took the lane just besides it. It was a very narrow lane with random houses of odd shapes and sizes around. Soon we came to a pond on our right. On its opposite side we could see four Deul structured temple inside an enclosure. It was well past two and the Sun was falling on our face.Crossing the pond, we hit another lane, this one much wider than the other. We turned right and stopped in front of the gate. There were two compounds here, both belonging to the Bhadra family of Kotulpur. Outside the first compound stood a Bell Metaled Ratha ( Chariot) with plenty of used mineral bottles dumped under it. It was a sorry sight.
The first premises of the family of Sudhakrishna Bhadra have four run down Shiva temple standing side by side on its right. In the centre there is a courtyard with a flat roofed temple with tin roofed shade in its front. On the left besides a residential house, stands a two storied temple with triple arched gateway.
The second story of the temple has undergone severe changes with cement work done on it. The side walls have some large figures on them. The first story has a combination of birds and musicians on its arch panels. The wall panels show Dasavatar, Social Scenarios and Musicians. Quality of the Terracotta panels is quite crude. There is an octagonal Rasmancha in this premise which has been painted white thus hiding its all detailed work.The most interesting panel in this flat roofed temple was that of a Cowboy straight from the Western Movies! This was the most unexpected thing. The figure was having two bullet shoulder belt hanging from each shoulder. He had a pistol holster along with a rifle on one his hand. Of course this must have been influenced from a English Soldier as the temple seemed to be of 17th – 18th century, while the first prominent Western film came out in 1890!
The second premises belong to the family of the Niranjan Bhadra. The grand gateway of the fortified premises indeed looks like the entry to a fortress. There are three pillars on each side to the entrance. Two Newly Built Deul Temple on each side of the entrance spoils the beauty of this Grand Structure . You cannot shoot the entire Gate without including them. I took a cropped shot.
Just before the entrance door to the premises on the wall we saw some fresco work with a foundation stone. Zooming up with my Tele lens, I found most of the text was illegible, only the title “Bhadra” could be figured out.
As we entered through the gateway, we found a Giri Gobardhan Temple and a nine pinnacled Dolmancha. The Dolmacha was quite small. Only the centre pinnacle was of some considerable size and the rest were rather tiny. All the Pinnacles were of horizontal Ridged Rekha style.The Giri Gobardhan temple at Kotulpur was in much better shape than the one I located at Sonamukhi. Structured like a mountain with several huge stones on its roof, this temple has several large statues made of Lime and Sand
The mountain shaped structure featured Dwarpal( Gaurds) and Gods like Kartikey, Indra , Kali and Durga on its walls. One large statue depicted Krishna and Jashoda.There are some small terracotta panels too featuring Dasvatar, Kali, Krishna, Durga and other figures. This style of mixing terracotta figurines with lime and sand figures is an indicative of decline of the standard of terracotta sculptures.
As we walked on , we noticed a similar styled octagonal Rasmancha on our far right, painted in white – much like the one we saw in the earlier premises.
The 1769 built Pancha Ratna Sridhar temple is inside yet another unique designed fortification just besides the Dolmancha.
Niranjan Bhadra’s family residence is also inside this fortification. There are two gateways here, one leading into the temple and the other leading into the Bhadra Residence.
The members of Bhadra Family came us a warm welcome. We had landed there on the day India won the one day world cup. A senior member of the family was surprised that we were busy temple hunting, while everybody was glued in front of their TV sets. Immediately we were served with some chilled Mango squash which tasted refreshing in that hot weather.
Located inside a courtyard, the 30 feet triple arched Pancharatna Temple has several terracotta works on its arch panels as well on its upper wall panels and base panels.
The base panels comprises of floral designs. The middle arch panels comprise of Ram Sita on throne and Krishna leaving for Mathura on Akrur’s Chariot with Gopinis crying. The right hand arch panel comprises of two scenarios of Krishna lila – Bastraharan ( stealing the clothes of Gopinis) and Goshthilla ( Krishna as Shephard). The left arch panel displays Rama as king with a horde of monkey army around and the fight between Ram and Ravana.
After being impressed by the double fortification of the terracotta works on the temple did not impress me much as they lacked details and looked to be made by rather low skilled workers. However some of the fresco work in the inner corridor of the temple was impressive.
The Family of Niranjan Bhadra could not inform much about their ancestors in details. We only came to know that they were eminent businessman and made a fortune by trading with the British. One interesting information we received was that the famous spiritual leader Sri RamaKrishna Paramahansa(influential figure of Hindu renaissance in 19th & 20th century) visited their house in the year 1880 to observe the “Aarati” on “Saptami” – the first day of Durga Puja.
There were several other temples at Kotulpur, but most of them are hard to locate or broken down. In Benepara (which is nowadays known as Bazarpara), there is a Nabaratna temple of Nandy family. The temple is broken down with only one Ratna remaining. This temple is protected by State Archeology, but there is nothing significant to see in it. A flat roofed temple is there at Haldarpara, just a few steps after crossing the Bhadra Mansions on your right. The temple has been crudely painted white making all panels losing their glory. At present it is a dump yard for haystack.
From Kotulpur we drove back to Bishnupur. It was nearly three and we were all feeling hungry. We had a hearty late lunch at the restaurant of Banalata lodge and retuned to Bishnupur to catch the Rupashi Bangla express in the afternoon for our journey back to Kolkata. It was an enriching experience to some of the not so well known Temple Town of Bankura and we did not mind missing India’s Cricket World cup triumph for it.
1. Bankura Jelar Purakirti (Archeological Feats of Bankura Zila) by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhyay)