Gokulchand ~ Stone temple

Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar

~ Fortified Stone Temple ~

Stone has always been in short supply in the vast flood plains of Bengal. Hence the architects had to restore to other substitute. As clay was easily available the burnt clay bricks soon became a good substitute of stone. This gave rise to a new form of temple architecture and lead to the construction of elaborately decorated terracotta temples giving Bengal a place in the world tourist map.

Gokuleswar Temple, Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple and natmandir, Gokulnagar

Although numerous brick terracotta temples dot the entire Gangatic West Bengal but they are not the only form of temple architecture. Stone temples do exists in West Bengal and are mainly concentrated in the western region of the state and adds a new dimension to Bengal Temple Architecture.

Gokuleswar Temple through the arch of Natmandir, Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple through the arch of Natmandir, Gokulnagar

Probably the grandest of these few Bengal stone temples is the Gakulchand Temple of Gokulnagar. Located only a few kilometer from the spectacular terracotta temples of Bishnupur this laterite stone temple is considered as the largest stone temple of Bankura District.

Gakulnagar is a railhead on the proposed Bishnupur – Tarakeshwar line. Tracks have already been laid and the Gukulnagar Station building modeled as the Gokulchand Temple has already been constructed. But the trains are yet to operate so it is best to hire a car from Bishnupur. The journey takes about an hour.

The 64 feet high pancha – ratna (five pinnacled) temple is flanked by a natmandir and the entire 23,500 sq. ft. temple complex is surrounded by a high wall, giving the impression of a fort rather than a temple. An arched gateway leads to the temple complex.

Gokuleswar Temple (Front View), Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple (Front View), Gokulnagar

The central pinnacle of the panch – ratna temple is octagonal in shape while the four pinnacles at the corners are smaller in size and square in shape. The temple has verandas on three sides, each with a triple arched entrance, and circumambulatory path goes round the temple. The Idol of Lord Krishna has long been removed from the temple and is housed in Bishnupur, only to brought back on the occasion of Holi and Rash. Photo of the idol is all that is worshiped today.

The Eastern & Southern faced has stone sculpture in low relief. Although heavily eroded, by centuries of wind & rain, the sculptures of Dos Avatar & Krishnalila can still be seen. Sadly the foundation plaque has been heavily eroded and its content has become illegible, but according to experts the Gakuleswar temple was constructed by the Malla King Raghunath Simha I in 1643.

Arched gateway, Natmandir, Gokuleswar Temple, Gokulnagar

Arched gateway, Natmandir, Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar

On the southern end of the temple lies the Natmandir, whose roof has long collapsed. Covering a larger area than the temple, the Natmandir has a triple arched entrance facing the temple and a single arched entrance marks the two sides.

The first systematic efforts of the restoration of the Gokulchand Temple dates back to 1923 when Rakhaldas Bondopadhyay, of Mohenjodaro fame, visited the temple complex. But sadly it was only in 1996 the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) took over the temple and declared it a Monument of National Importance.

During this long period of neglect the Gokulchand Temple has seen very bad days. Large quantities of stones have been removed by contractors for construction of roads and buildings. Today the looting has stopped but the complex is still littered with stone slabs reminding one of the horrifying days of plunder.

Reference:

Related links from my blog:

  1. Aniruddha
    September 26, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Khub Bhalo Laglo apnar ei Blogta darun informative Thnx

  2. May 28, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    amitabha and you are the same boat brothers.thanks for information.i have an experience of gour purnima/dol purnima festival at gokulnagar .just attractive.

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:48 PM

      Thanks Bhaskar, I visited the temple with Amitabha. Nice to know that you were present in the Gokulchand Temple during the Dol Purnima.

  3. Siddhartha
    December 9, 2015 at 11:45 AM

    I was awestuck by the enormous collection you have made🙂 Bengal is astonishing, no doubt, but is infrequently (and disproportionately less) covered by world tourists decoding India. Perhaps our failure in promoting Bengal tourism to that extent. Blog such as this enlighten us.

    • December 10, 2015 at 10:46 PM

      Thankyou Siddhartha for the inspiring comment. Yes Bengal tourism needs to be promoted.

  1. August 17, 2016 at 11:13 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: