Pathra, rebirth of the temple town

Pathra

Rebirth of the temple town

Also see: Weekend Family tour of West Midnapore

West Bengal is nothing unknown to temple villages and towns. Towns like Bishnupur and Ambika Kalna are well known temple towns in the state. Pathra, a nondescript village near Midnapore town, is another temple village of the state.

Pathra 10

Kalachand Temple Complex

But Pathra is different and what makes Pathra unique is the conservation effort of a single man named Yashin Pathan. Yashin Pathan, now aged almost 70 is a Muslim resident of the Pathra. He took up the mammoth task of protecting the 18th century temples way back in 1970.

Pathra 12

Kalachand Temple Compex, Pathra

It was not a easy task for the local Muslim gentlemen as his efforts were resisted not only by the local Hindu population but also by the members of his own community .

He started approaching people for funds to conserve the temples. He started knocking at every possible opportunity starting from the local political leaders to the nearby IIT Kharagpur. He even wrote a letter to the president of India.

Due to Pathan’s effort, today the 28 of the 34 temples and structures of Pathra are under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) out of which 18 are repaired with technical assistance from the architecture department of the nearby IIT, Kharagpur.

Pathra 7

Kalachand Temple Compex, Pathra

Although the temples have been saved and restored but sadly Pathra is failed to develop into a tourist spot.

The village still lacks a proper approach road and there are no places to eat. The place even lacks basic toilet facilities.

The temple of Pathra have traces of terracotta ornamentation but sadly they lack the details and intricacy of the well known terracotta temples of Bengal.

Lack of terracotta ornamentation is largely compensated by intricate limestone stucco ornamentation. Today the temple village of Pathra is located 15 km west of the Midnapore Town and on the northern banks of the Kansabati River.

Pathra 8

Kalachand Temple Compex, Pathra

Majority of the temples of Pathra belong to the Ghosal family and according to history Baidyananda Ghosal served as a tax collector of Ratnachawk pargana under Alivardi Khan, nawab of Bengal (1740 – 56).

Pathra 6

Kalachand Temple Compex, Pathra

Baidyananda Ghosal built several temples, which did not please his employer. Alivardi sentenced him to death and Baidyananda Ghosal was thrown in front of a elephant to be trampled to death.

But the elephant refused to crush Bidyananda Ghosal to death and the nawab considering this as a miracle let him free and he continued building more and more temples. The place came to be known as Pathra (Pa = (elephant) feet, uthra = escape). (Bandel Church has a similar story)

The Ghosal adopted the title of Majumdar and continued with the temple building spree. The Bandopadhyay family of Pathra also joined the temple building spree, which continued till the end of the 18th century.

Pathra 2

Dharmaraj Temple with Kansabati River

The temples of Pathra can be classified into three complex, namely: Nabaratna Temple Complex, Kalachand Temple Complex and Rasmancha Temple Complex and apart from these there are couple of isolated temples like the Dharmaraj Temple and the Sitala Temple. Apart from these the village houses several minor temples and ruined structures.

Pathra 4

Stucco work of Dharnaraj Temple

Kalachand Complex is the most elaborate of the temple complex in Pathra. It lies on the left hand side of the road for visitors arriving from Midnapore town.

The Kalachand Temple, a rectangular flat roofed structure with decorative pillars supporting five arched gateways lies next to the road.

Behind it lies three aat chal (8 sloped roof) Shiva mandir and a temple built in pancha ratna (five pinnacle) style. Beyond that lies one rectangular roofless laterite structure fronted by a verandah locally known as Durga Mandapa. Next to the Durga Mandap lies the dilapidated Zamindar’s mansion, the staircase of which still exists and provide access to the roof.

Pathra 1

Naba Ratna Temple Complex, Pathra

Further down the road stands two temples built in aat chala and panch ratna style. The temples of Kalchand complex only have traces of terracotta ornamentation with no intricate details. Apart from these the complex also houses several ruined structures completely covered with vegetation.

Pathra 13

Pancha Ratna Temples of Rasmancha Complex, Pathra

Bang opposite the Kalachand Temple complex stands the Nabaratna Temple Complex, centred round the towering naba ratna (nine pinnacle) temple. This is the only nine pinnacle temple of Pathra and the tallest of all the temples in the town

Pathra 14

Kacharibari, Rasmancha Complex, Pathra

Entrance is on the eastern side through a triple arched entrance and the front face of the temple is covered with terracotta ornamentation.

The complex also houses four flat roof shiva temples and a small but decorative tulsi mancha.

The stand alone Dhrmaraj Temple lies on the right hand side of the road and next to the Kansabati River.

It is not exactly on the road and is the first of the temple to be spotted for visitors coming from Mednipur town. The south facing pancha ratna temple has a triple arched entrance. The absence of terracotta is largely compensated by the intricate floral stucco designs.

Pathra 15

Rasmancha, Pathra

A left turn, beyond the Kalachand Temple complex, followed by a winding dirt road, past a small unknown aat chala temple, leads to the Rasmancha Complex.

Built by the Bandopadhyay family, it is also known as the Bandopadhyay Temple Complex.

The Temple complex of the Bandopadhaya family includes three pancha ratna brick built Siva Temples, octagonal Rashmancha, the Kacharibari and two other minor Siva Temples

The three pancha ratna temples have fine terracotta ornamentation while the rasmancha has its share of stucco ornamentation. The octagonal rasmancha with its nine pinnacle definitely stands out among the rest.

Pathra 19

Sitala Temple, Pathra

Back to the main road and a short distance on the left is the Sitala Mandir. The temple is said to house the family deity of Majumdar (Ghosal) and is popularly known as Burimar Than. Built probably in the first part of the 18th century and follows the deul style of architecture. It is the only deul style temple of Pathra. The saptaratha sikhara of the Temple is topped by a round amalaka and Kalasa. Next to the Sital Mandir is a ruined structure totally covered with vegetation.

Pathra 20

Ruined structure, Pathra

Necessary Travel Tips:

  • Pathra can be covered in a day trip in car or train from Kolkata. Midnapore is the nearest railhead.
  • Midnapore Town has several hotels of different budget
  • From Midnapore a car is essential to explore Pathra. One can also visit Gangani, the grand canyon of Bengal

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

 

  1. July 8, 2020 at 8:42 AM

    Sadly, the West Bengal tourism department is perhaps the worst in the country. There could be many more places in the state that could be better maintained and better promoted but they are useless.

  2. July 8, 2020 at 11:47 PM

    This used to be one of my favorite places to visit on a solo bicycle trip during my college days at IIT Kharagpur, few years back.The place looks even much greener and beautiful now.

  3. M.C Liu
    July 10, 2020 at 3:12 AM

    Informative and intrigue

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