Palpara Brick Temple
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) website describes it as the Palpara Brick Temple, while the locals call it the Moth Mandir, Kali Mandir or even Shiv Mandir. The seventeenth century temple has long been abundant. It is recently been restored by the ASI and declared as a Monument of National Importance.
The brick built south facing char – chala temple (four sloped roofs meeting at a pinnacle) stands on a raised plinth and is believed to be built by Gandharba Roy in seventeenth century, although the foundation plaque containing necessary information like name of founder and year of foundation has long been lost. The temple standing on a square base, and crowned with the four sloping roofs, rises to a height of 21 meters.
The decorated arched entrance is flanked by two brick pillars on either side. The area above the arched entrance once contained intricately curved terracotta panels but only a few of these have passed the test of time. A few scenes from Ramayana, geometric & floral design and lotus motif are all that remains of the intricate terracotta works that once dotted the walls of the temple.
Char – chala temples are one of the earliest forms of Bengal’s Temple Architecture and only a few of these temples can be seen to this day. Later on the char – chala was modified into an aat (eight) – chala, which consists of a char – chala upon a char – chala, and thus making it the most common temple architecture of Bengal.
59 km from Kolkata on the Sealdah – Krishnanagar rail line Palpara can be reached in one – and – half hours by local trains. Although trains are frequently available, but for the most comfortable journey it is best to take the morning train. As you walk out of the station complex ask the locals for directions and you are most likely to be directed to an active temple, with nothing much to do with history.
So it’s best to walk along the Plapara Station road to a tri – junction and then take a left turn towards Lokenath Bhavan and Durganagar Tarakdas Vidyamandir and finally to the Palpara temple. The Lokenath Bhavan & Durganagar Tarakdas Vidyamandir works as important landmarks for finding the ancient temple.
The temple is enclosed by a 5 feet (approximate) high wall and a blue board of ASI proudly describes it as a Monument of National Importance while another blue board gives the brief history and description of the temple. The complex remains locked and the caretaker is not likely to be found. So be prepared to cross over the wall into the temple complex.
Although located at the hearth of thickly inhabited locality the temple complex acts as an oasis of peace. The garden surrounding the temple is not maintained and is over grown with weeds. A narrow foot – path leads to the char – chala temple, which also remains locked and there is no way of getting into the inner sanctum of the temple.
Most of the terracotta panels on the decorated arched entrance have vanished. A panel showing Rama shooting an arrow and another showing Ravana defending it can still be seen on the temple walls. A few more war scenes, geometrical design and floral pattern have strangely passed the test of human neglect.
Although robbed of its former glory and in spite of lying in utter neglect the Palpara Temple will definitely provide you with an insight into Bengal’s early temple architecture and provide you with a Sunday morning break to enjoy rural Bengal’s lush green countryside.
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