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Govinda Mandir - an ornamented terracotta temple at Puthia

Monjuara Khatun | Published: November 17, 2019 11:19:43 | Updated: November 19, 2019 17:44:20


Chhoto Ahnik, Boro Govinda and Chhoto Govinda temples at Puthia in Rajshahi district — FE Photos

Pancharatna Boro Govinda Mandir in Puthia is one of the exquisitely ornamented terracotta plaques made temples in the country.

This temple stands inside the boundary of Panch Ani Palace of the Kings of Puthia.

The brick structure of the temple stands on a high platform.

The temple consists of a central room with four square-shaped rooms around four corners surrounded by a veranda on four sides.

The rooms are covered with semi-circular domes and externally it is ornamented with pyramid shape of four-roofed vaults.

The entire outer walls are exquisitely decorated with bright red-coloured terracotta plaques, depicting various legends of Hindu god and goddess Radha-Krishna and the characters from the epic Ramayana and the contemporary picture of the society.

It is learnt, like Boro Govinda Mandir, several stately structures were commissioned by the members of the Puthia Raj Family, the Zamindars of the area.

In the 17th century the Mughal Governor bestowed Zamindar rights on a local saint named Batsacharya. His descendant Hemanta Kumari Devi is known to order the construction of temples and the Puthia palace.

Puthia is 30 kilometres away from Rajshahi city. It is beside the Rajshahi-Dhaka highway. Accessed by a side road off the main street lies the Puthia 'Complex', with its splendid late 19th Century Palace, and some of the finest Hindu temples within the country. This place has a Rajbari and a lot of different types of temples. The whole premise is surrounded by a lake that is acting as a boundary of the complex.

At the northern side of the complex, lies the 200-year-old Govinda Temple.

There is another ornamented temple known as Chhoto Govinda temple which is located beside a pond. It is small in size but its walls are exquisitely designed and ornamented with terracotta plaques.

Another structure known as Bidhobar Temple is a very small temple near the Ahnik Mondir. It is situated beside the road.

The Boro Ahnik Temple is an excellent temple which is located at the western side of the Puthia complex. It is famous for its delicate architecture and ornamentation.

Another temple known as Gopal Temple is located on the same premise of Boro Ahnik Mondir. It is a single door small temple and like other temples its wall has flamboyant ornamentation. This temple's height is around eight meters.

Dol Moncho is situated at the opposite side of the Rajbari, beside a field. It is a four- storey temple. The upper floor is smaller than the lower one. The topmost floor is the smallest one. Around 100 years back, queen Hem Kumari Debi had built this temple. The wall of the temple is inscribed with Ramayan, Maha Bharat, etc. This is exactly beside the Rajbari. The temple has similarity with the Kantajew temple of Dinajpur.

The distinctive features of the Boro Govido Temple, Chhoto Govindo temple and Chhoto Ahnik Temple are the ornamentation of the outer walls of those through floral motifs, the depiction of the love of Sree Radha and Krishna and various gods and goddess.

Those motifs and depictions were set with extra care and designs on the walls of the temples in terracotta plaques. These rare terracotta arts are unparallel in the world.

Despite a restoration project undertaken by the Department of Archaeology and though some parts of the temples have been restored, most of the temples in Puthia are losing their appearance as most of the terracotta pieces have become old.

Accumulation of fungus, dust and rainwater for a long time has spoiled their colour and shapes.

Many of these antiques are decaying or been stolen in the absence of proper care from the Archaeological Department.

Recent research showed that large amounts of terracotta from Chotto Anik Temple, Boro Gobindo Temple and Chotto Gobindo Temple have been destroyed or stolen, and the rest are at high risk of decaying because of high salinity.

The country's rich heritage is endangered due to lack of strong incentives of the Archaeological Department and the government.

Sagar, Site Caretaker of Puthia Palace Complex informed, the temples situated under Puthia Palace Complex are being maintained properly since after the department of Archaeology took the charge of the complex.

Sazzad Hossain Mukul, chairman of Pachamari union of Puthia informed, said the Puthia Palace Complex including the temples are prized possession and pride for the people of the region.

There is a huge potential of development of tourism in Puthia centring the Puthia Palace complex including its temples.

He mentioned the revenue income of the upazila would be increased and there should be an increase in trade and commerce with the flourishing of tourism industry in Puthia.

He added the government recently paid attention for renovation and restoration of the palace and the temples. The Department of Archaeology has recently renovated and repaired the Puthia Palace and the ornamented terracotta plaques of the temples are being cleaned and repaired.

It needs a lot of expertise, time and money to repair those unique terracotta plaques that is why the works of renovation is going on at a slow pace, he added.

Shaoli Talukder, assistant custodian of the Archaeological Department and in- charge of Puthia Palace, informed at present no repair works of the palace and the temples of Puthia is being done but in recent past there were done huge development and repair works. She said the Puthia Palace along with many temples of the Puthia Palace Complex has got a facelift, for which it now looks dazzling and charming.

Mohammad Wali Uzzaman, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Puthia, said the Puthia Palace Complex including its temples are the historical assets of the country.

The Department of Archaeology is now in charge of supervision of the entire complex and he hoped soon the works of renovation of the temples and other establishments under Puthia Palace Complex will be completed.

There is also a bright prospect of tourism centring the Puthia Palace Complex, he added.

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