Kurumbera, A fortified Temple Complex


A fortified Temple Complex

Also see: Weekend Family tour of West Midnapore

The  fortified temple complex of Kurumbera lies in the village of Gaganeshwar, which is 4 km from Keshiari and 30 km from Kharagpur. The structure resembles the medieval architecture of Odisha, while also incorporating elements of later Mughal architecture.

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Fortified complex of Kurumbera, West Midnapore

Kurumbera means stone wall (kurum = stone, bera = fence) and refers to the 12 feet high wall enclosing the complex. The wall complex measured 253 feet by 173 feet and has a gateway on the northern side.

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Entrance of Kurumber Complex

According to a stone inscription, written in Odiya, the Kurumbera Fort was  built in 1438–1469  during the rule of Surya Vamsi king of Odisha Gajapati Kapilendra Dev.

Although a protected site under the the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) nothing much is known about its history.

Two blue boards (with the same content) at the entrance of the fortified complex mentions that it is a protected monument but sadly no information is provided regarding the history of the structure.

According to local sources, it might be because of a Hindu-Muslim dispute over the demolition of the Shiva temple, which prompted the decision to keep its history under wraps.

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Walled complex of Kurumbera Fort

In 1568, the Afghan Sultanate of Bengal and Bihar invaded Odisha which included the undivided Midnapore district of West Bengal. Later, Mughals occupied Odisha after defeating the Afghans of Bengal in the Battle of Tukaroi in 1575.

Since 1575 Mughal rule continued in Odisha and during the reign of Aurangzeb parts of Odisha were plundered and it was probably during this time the Kurumbera Temple Complex attacked and the Shiva Tempe demolished.

The triple domed mosque was built by Muhammad Tahir in 1699 during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was during this period the temple complex was converted into a military cantonment by the Mughals who invaded Bengal.

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Remains of Shiva Temple, Kurumbera

Today the most prominent structure of the complex is a three domed mosque located on the western side of the complex. Sadly the mosque is kept under lock and key and thus the interiors are inaccessible.

At the centre of a complex lies the remains of a ruined structure. Historians believed it to be the remains of the demolished Shiva Temple.

The entrance to the complex is through the northern side. The entire arena is surrounded by an 8-feet wide arched corridor running on all four sides with 69 pillars out of which 62 still exists. Large portions of the corridor on the western side have collapsed.

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Mosque inside Kurumbera Complex

The compound is well maintained with manicured lawns and paved pathways.  The south western corner of the complex houses several circular ruined structure and with no proper written documentation nothing much is known about them.

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Corridor along the inside wall, Kurumbera Complex

Although called a fort but Kurumbera lacks the basic elements of fortification. With no bastions and battlements along with moats and watch tower Kurumbera never represents a fort. It represents more of a mosque complex with a large gathering space. Sadly there are no written history of documented records to justify the claim.

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A panoramic view of Kurumbera Temple Complex

Necessary Travel Tips:

  • Kurumbera can be covered in a day trip from Kolkata. A total road trip or a train to Khargpur and the rest in a hired car.
  • For weekend tours Kharagpur is the nearest town with basic hotel.

Note: My trip to Gangoni was part of a family weekend tour. which also covered Pathra, Gangani and Mughalmari.

  1. May 20, 2020 at 12:46 AM

    Excellent post!

  2. May 21, 2020 at 2:58 PM

    Well written. Hope you’re safe from the cyclone

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