Terracotta Temples of Surul, Shantiniketan, Birbhum
Terracotta Temples of Surul
Shantiniketan, Birbhum, West Bengal
Shantiniketan has always been in the top of the list for the travel loving Bengalis. But apart from the the Rabindranath Thakur (Tagore) related heritage, Shantinekatan also acts as a base for several short excursions showcasing some unknown and neglected heritage of Bengal.
Surul, located 5 km from the Bolpur Station in Shantiniketan, is probably the nearest heritage excursion spot from Shantinekatan.
West Bengal is known for its elaborately decorated terracotta temples. The districts of Bankura, Hooghly and Burdwan are well known for their terracotta temples, but a few villages in Birbhum does have fantastic terracotta temples.
Surual, in the vicinity of Shantinekatan, houses some of the best terracotta temples of Birbhum.
With lack of public transport Surul is best reached by car from Shantiniketa or Prantik or Bolpur Station.
After reaching Surul, head straight for the Sarkar Rajbari (Mansion). Sarkar Rajbari was built by Srinivas Sarkar, who made a fortune by selling ship sails for ships sailing from the neighboring river port of Illambazar.
Built in 1750s the Sarkar Rajbari of Surul is in excellent condition and still the venue for the 250 years old Durga Puja.
Just next to the huge Sarkar Rajbari is a small temple complex of the Sarkars. The complex houses a pancha – ratna (five pinnacled) Lakshmi – Janardhan Temple. Although dilapidated the temple houses some intricate as well as some unique terracotta panels.
The temple is approached by a triple arched entrance and the central arch panel depicts a war scene of Rama and Ravana from the the epic Ramayana. The two side arch panels depicts the court of Rama and Ravana.
The complex also a twin Shiva Temples of rekh deul style. The temples have recently been given a fresh coat of paints and are restored with the old terracotta panels still intact.
The nearby Pashimpara in Surul also houses two more temples. One follows the traditional aat – chala style of architecture while the other is in rekh – deul style. Both contains terracotta but the terracotta panels of the rekh – deul temple definitely stands apart.
Just above the arch panel is a elaborate and unique panel showing Lord Shiva playing the musical instrument of tanpura.
- Shantiniketan (Bolpur) is well connected from Kolkata by road and rail.
- Surul has no place to stay, so it is best visited from Shantinekatan (Bolpur).