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More Stuff: Kalashkathi temples falling apart for want of attention
Five nearly 400-year-old temples — one with rare terracotta plaques — at Kalashkathi in Barisal are on the verge of destruction, thanks to the authorities’ indifference to historical sites.

Kalashkathi temples falling apart for want of attention

Kalashkathi temples falling apart for want of attention
Five temples, built around 400 years ago at Kalashkathi in Bakerganj upazila under Barisal district, are heading towards gradual destruction as the authorities concerned are showing utter reluctance about their preservation. The photos show two of the quaint structures, now bereft of their beauty [Credit: STAR]

Goutam Mukharjee, one of the descendants of Kalashkathi zamindar (landlord), said zamindar Janaki Ballav established the estate more than 350 years ago by taking lease of land from the Nawabs of Bengal.

There were 13 landlord families at Kalashkathi of Bakerganj who constructed palaces, temples, and monuments in memories of the zamindars, locals said.

Presently there are, however, only five temples and three palaces remaining in dilapidated conditions. The lands on which the structures are established are now belong to private owners.

Locals and archaeologists say the historical evidence could gradually wear away as people are using the places in whatsoever ways.

A group of archaeologists and historians, while visiting the site recently, were astonished to see the rare terracotta structures and demanded immediate measures to protect the temples and mementos.
Jahangirnagar University’s archaeology professor Swadhin Sen, said, these temples could be that of 16th and 17th centuries.

“The terracotta plaques profusely used in a Deul type temple are rare in Bengal, especially in the southern region,” Sen told this correspondent.

The brick-built structure has two arched entrances — one on the north and the other on the western sides. The spandrel of the arch entrances is decorated with two stylised lions that are common decoration motifs of many late medieval temples of Bengal, he said.

Both sides of the arch entrances are decorated with separate panels of terracotta plaques while three rows of terracotta panels lay above the arch, displaying 24 terracotta plaques.

One of the panels above the spandrel includes several plaques of the Dasavatara of Brahmanical God Visnu and false corner pillars.

A dedicatory inscription is installed above the main entrance, said Professor Swadhin Sen, adding that the content of the plaques needs analysis to understand its meanings.

This Deul temple located near one UK expatriate AB Talukder’s house is bravely battling against ruination. However, the land around the edifice is under cultivation.

“So, if the temple is not protected, we shall lose some structures of immense historical values”, professor Sen said, adding that he has already written to the Department of Archaeology suggesting immediate steps

There are also Durga Mandir, Shiv Mandir and Kali Mandir. Parts of these temples have worn out with locals using them as cattle shed and club office.

Chandranath Mukharjee, president of Kalashkathi Kali Bari Sarbojanin Puja Mandir, said both social and government initiatives are imperative to preserve the sites from destruction.

However, Mirza Muzahidul Islam, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Bakerganj, said he came to know about the existence of such temples in the area first from this correspondent.

“If local people are interested, we will definitely contact the archaeology department to preserve those”, he said.

Author: Sushanto Ghosh | Source: The Daily Star [December 05, 2013]

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