Banda Deul, Most Preserved Stone Temple of Purulia District

Banda Deul

Most Preserved Stone Temple of Purulia District

See also: Wiki Explores Purulia

Historical records suggest that during the 10th – 13th century a flourishing Jain settlement flourished in the western part of West Bengal covering the present districts of Purulia, Bankura and Jhargram. During this period they have built numerous brick and stone temples, following the Oriya Duel style architecture.

Banda Deul, Purulia District, West Bengal

Banda Deul, Purulia District, West Bengal

Purulia had the largest concentration of these Jain Temples although many of them have crumbled to dust but a hand full have survived the test of time and still towers above the rural landscape of Purulia district. These towering temples, built of both brick and stone, can still be seen in the villages of Para, Pakbira, Deulghata, Deuli and Banda.

In the same remote western areas of old Manbhum district the Jains seem to have gone on building temples up to the 13th century or later, quiet a few of these standing today

David McCutchion, Late Mediaval Temples of Bengal

Approaching the Banda Deul, Purulia District

Approaching the Banda Deul, Purulia District

Banda Village of Raghunathpur II Block and is 35 km from Purulia town houses one such towering stone temple. Known as Banda Deul, it is probably the most preserved stone temple of the district.

Pitcher shaped decoration at the base of Banda Deul

Pitcher shaped decoration at the base of Banda Deul

Bana Deul, is a protected monument under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI). There is no foundation plaque, so there is no information about the exact date of construction.

According to expert opinion it was probably constructed between the 11th and 13th century.

The 75 meter sandstone temple is built in rekh deul style with a trirath projection. The structure stands on a square base length 14 feet.

The stone at the base are pitcher shaped and are placed one above another with minimum cementing material. The Banda Deul is topped with a decorative spire which in turn is crowned with a lotus shaped finial.

Sandstone freeze on the south side of the spire

Sandstone freeze on the south side of the spire

The southern side of the spire contains an intricate sandstone freeze of interlocking floral motif. There are other interesting freeze on the outer walls of the temple.

The temple faces north and is approached by a entrance of 6.5 feet in height and 3 feet in width. The stone door fame contains some interesting freeze consisting of human figures. Sadly years of neglect and wrong restorations have made them almost obliterate.

The inner sanctum contains an elevated platform for the residing deity sadly the idols have long gone missing. According to local sources the idols have been removed to the Mahamaya Temple in Chelyama village about 1 km away.

The other three sides of Banda Deul contains shallow depression measuring 3 feet by 2 feet in length. They probably housed statues of Jain Tirthankaras, but sadly they have long vanished.

The lower portion of the eastern wall contains a stone elephant head, which probably served as a water outlet. The water used during the rituals in the inner sanctum was drained out through pipes and was ejected through the elephant head shaped outlet.

Elephant head shaped water outlet, Banda Deul

Elephant head shaped water outlet, Banda Deul

In front of the Banda Deul is a stone platform, consisting of a roof supported by stone pillars.

The western portion of the pavilion have collapsed exposing the pillars to the open sky.

The Banda Deul along with the pavilion was once an enclosed complex surrounded by stone wall, only small fractions of which survives to this day.

The complex measured 250 feet by 150 feet and was quiet likely paved with stones. Sadly the stone has log gone missing leaving the towering temple and pavilion on a bed of lush green grass.

The entire area, surrounding the temple, is covered with Palash Trees and come spring the entire region turns into flaming red with the towering Banda Temple in the centre. Today, like many other temples of Purulia, the abandoned Banda Deul stands as a mute witness to the glorious Jain Heritage of the western part of West Bengal.

Banda Deul and the pavilion, view from north - west side

Banda Deul and the pavilion, view from north – west side

…….it can be submitted that there were many more such Jain Temples located in western part of our state, which were later converted to Saiva or Sakta Shrines or deserted altogether.

Debkumar Chakraborty

References:

  1. পুরুলিয়ার মন্দির স্থাপত্য (১ম খন্ড), সুভাষ রায়
  2. Temples of Deulghata, Pakbira and Banda: A Photo Journey by Chintu Dutta, Chitrolekha Journal of Art and Design
  3. Next Weekend you can be at… Banda by Somen Sengupta, The Telegraph

Note:

This tour was part of Wiki Explores Purulia and was funded by Wikipedia West Bengal User Group

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  1. April 23, 2018 at 1:06 PM

    interesting

  2. June 21, 2018 at 12:36 PM

    interesting historical art stone art work thanks to sharing

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