Home > Bengal Archeology, Bengal History, General, Travelogue, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Deuli, Harup and Suisa, Crumbling Temples, Scattered Statues and Single Room Museum, Purulia District

Deuli, Harup and Suisa, Crumbling Temples, Scattered Statues and Single Room Museum, Purulia District

Deuli, Harup and Suisa

Crumbling Temples, Scattered Statues and Museum, Purulia District

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.

Panoramic view of the three Jain Temples of Deuli, Purulia District

Panoramic view of the three Jain Temples of Deuli, Purulia District

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.

One of the smaller Deuls of Deuli

One of the smaller Deuls of Deuli

Deuli, under Bagmundi sub – division of Purulia district, houses three dilapidated ruined Jain Temples. Apart from temples stone statues of Jain Tirthankaras, votive stupas have been found in the villages adjoining Deuli and also in other part of Purulia district.

They can still be spotted under trees and inside Hindu temples, where they are worshiped as Hindu gods. With some government initiative some of these statues have been shifted into small one room local museums.

Deuli derives its name from the word deul, which refers to an Eastern India temple style. In this style, both brick and stone, the temple stands on a relatively small square base and is topped withe a towering spire, thus giving it a tower like appearance. No wonder Deuli once had its large share of towering deuls.

Central Deul, with entrance, Deuli

Central Deul, with entrance, Deuli

According to Joseph David Beglar, an Armenian-Indian engineer, archaeologist and photographer, who explored Manbhum region in 1870s reported the existence of several temples in Deuli village. Today Deuli, located about 72 km from Purulia town with Suisa as the nearest rail head, has only three crumbling deuls.

Beglar mentioned the existence of a panchayatan temple complex in Deuli. This type of temple complex consists of a large towering temple in the central part of the complex, with the complex is flanked with four minor temples at the four corners.

Sadly traces of the elaborate temple complex exist to this day. The two of the four corner temples stands to this day. The main temple is nothing but a heap of stones, intricately balanced one above the other.

The two corner temples stands on newly built cement platforms and have largely been rebuilt. Both these temples are empty.

The central temple stands on a stone rubble, probably created by collapsed stones from the temple itself. Portions of the walls still stand with stones perilously balanced one above the other.

The entrance is on the northern wall and approached by a steep climb through the scattered stones covered with thick vegetation. The entrance is half covered by scattered stones and vegetation and a small gap of about 3 feet by 2 feet leads to the inner sanctum.

Tirthankara Statue. inside main Deul of Deuli

Tirthankara Statue. inside main Deul of Deuli

The inner sanctum, which has no stone paving, is located almost 5 feet below the entrance. It is so small that it can hardly accommodate two adult person. But unlike Banda the inner sanctum is not empty. It houses a three feat statue of a Jain Tirthankara.

Jain Tirthankar statues are identified by the symbol at the pedestal. Sadly the statue is buried in the ground, making the pedestal invisible. But the historians opine that the statue is of the Santinath, the 16th Tirthankara.

Like many of the Jain Temples and statues in Purulia, this one is also worshiped as a Hindu god and locals call it Irgunath.

Weekly worship is held every Monday and mid June a festival takes place in the ruined temple complex, where people pray for the birth of a child. A patch of vermilion at the forehead and scattered flowers at the feet of the statue are the only traces of active worship.

Since the statue has been under a covered area for centuries it has been very well preserved. It is flanked by two ladies at the feet and contains intricate relief stone work at the background.

A stone plaque, Hurap, Purulia District

A stone plaque, Hurap, Purulia District

Statues have been scattered through out the Purulia district and short distance walk north of the Deuls of Deulia leads to a pond, which lies in the Hurap village. At the corner of the pond and beneath a old banyan tree lies an ancient stone plaque.

Statues at the Suisa Museum, Purulia District

Statues at the Suisa Museum, Purulia District

The plaque measuring about 2 feet by 3 feet depicts the image of a four handed female figure riding an elephant. She has weapons in all four hands with a sword in one of the hands. The top two corners are flanked with two statues and the base is marked with interesting panels of hunters and musicians.

Close up of Suisa statues

Close up of Suisa statues

Patches of vermilion indicates that this too is a object of worship for the locals. Unlike the Tirthankara statue  this plaque has been exposed to the elements of nature for centuries and lost all its intricacies.

Luckily all the statues of Purulia are not left in neglect and small one room museum in the nearby Suisa village houses several stone statues collected from nearby region.

Built way back in 1957 the small one room museum is maintained by the West Bengal State Archeology Department. Their are 10 exhibits consisting of statues, votive stupa and a portion of door jamb. They are fixed to a semi – circular elevated platform.

Sadly most of the stone statues and artifacts are not intact. The damage was probably done before they were shifted to the enclosed place. But still the statues (some are headless) of Tirthankaras and Ambika (a Jain Yakshi goddess) still shows traces of intricacy and details. The collection contains an interesting four handed statue, locals believe it to be of Vishnu.

References:

  1. পুরুলিয়ার মন্দির স্থাপত্য (১ম খন্ড), সুভাষ রায়

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

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