Home > Bengal Archeology, Bengal History, General, Purulia > Historical Sites of Purulia District

Historical Sites of Purulia District

Historical sites of Purulia District

A compilation of historical sites of Purulia District

Puruila District, lying on the western end of West Bengal is known fro its breathtaking natural beauty, consisting of lush green rolling hills along with rock outcrops and majestic water falls and lakes.

Clockwise from top left: Banda, Deulghata, Pakbirra, Telkuoi, Suisa and Para

Clockwise from top left: Banda, Deulghata, Pakbirra, Telkupi, Suisa and Para

Historical records suggest that during the 10th – 13th century a 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.

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.

Apart from dilapidated towering Jain temples Purulia also has its share of Hindu terracotta temples. Many of the villages of the district houses scattered statues of Hindu and Jain deities, most of them lying in utter neglect. In recent times a few of them have been shifted to a couple of newly built site museums.

Banda Deul, the most preserved of Purulia Deuls

Banda Deul, Purulia District, West Bengal

Banda Deul, Purulia District, West Bengal

Banda Village of Raghunathpur II Block and is 35 km from Purulia town houses one such towering stone temple. (Google Map Location)

Known as Banda Deul, it is probably the most preserved stone temple of the district.

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.

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.

More on Banda Deul

Crumbling Temples of Deulghata

Brick Temple of Deulghata, Purulia District

Brick Temple of Deulghata, Purulia District

Deulghata located about 30 km from Purulia Town (see map) houses two of the finest surviving brick temples of Purulia District.

Delghata is located on the banks of the Kosai River and the entire area is littered with stone and bricks structural elements.

Historical records mention the existence of several temples in Deulghata. Today their are only two and both follow the Oriya Rekh Deul style of architecture, with elaborate brick work.

The temples probably date back to the 11th century. Top portions of both the temples have long collapsed so the exact can no longer be determined. The temple near  the Kosai River is in a better condition and has a present height of about 45 feet. The one away from the river is in a more rundown state and presently towers to about 30 feet.

A newly built temple near the two crumbling ancient temples houses several ancient statues recovered from the nearby area. The statues includes a several Shiva Lingams, a four handed statue of a four handed lady flanked by Ganesh and Saraswati, a statue of a fighting lady locally called Ronochandi. But the statue that stands out is that of Durga in Mahishasuramardini style

More on Deulghata

Pakbirra, gigantic statue and temples

Giant Jain Tirthankara staue, Pakbirra, Purulia District

Giant Jain Tirthankara staue, Pakbirra, Purulia District

Located about 50 km south east of Purulia town, Pakbirra (see map) probably once housed the largest concentration of Jain temples of the region.

Sadly only three temples stands to this day. More over large portions of the three surviving temples have been reconstructed in recent times. Sadly the newly constructed upper portion lacks the grace and beauty of its older lower part.

Pakbirra also has its share of scattered statues and the one that stands out is the giant 7.5 feet high statue of a Jain Tirthankara. Sadly the identification symbol at the pedestal has long eroded away, making it almost impossible to identify the Tirthankara. According to some expert it is of Sitalnath while other opine it is of Padmaprabha. Today the statue lies under the open sky and strangely it is worshiped by the local as Lord Shiva and is known as Bhirabnath

Recently the three temples, the giant statue and the museum have been enclosed in a compound. Luckily the other statues of Pakbirra have been removed inside a recently constructed museum.

More on Pakbirra

Brick and stone temples of Para

Brick Temple of Para, Purulia District

Brick Temple of Para, Purulia District

The village of Para is located 28 km north east of Purulia town (see map) and houses two brick and one stone temple.

According to historical records Para probably served as the capital of Panchakot kings.

Today only three dilapidated temples are the only traces of Para’s royal lineage.

Among the three temples the, first is made up of stone and the second is of bricks.

The third, which is in the most dilapidated state consists of a mixture of stone and brick. The first two temples are located next to each other, while the third one is located a little further away.

The present structure of the Para Brick Temple rises to a height of 45 feet, but the top part including the finial had long collapsed, so the exact height of the temple can no longer be determined. The temple contains extensive ornamentation of decorative bricks. The temple contains no foundation plaque but expert believe it was constructed during the 10 -11th century AD.

Next to the brick temple is the Para Stone Temple, which probably predates the brick temple. Like the brick temple the stone temple has also lost its finial. Today the temple stands at about 40 feet, expert opine that the original height was probably about 45 feet. Once every inch on the outer surface of the temple was covered with the most intricate stone work, sadly the elements of nature, lack of conservation and utter neglect have eternally wiped them out.

The third temple, made with a combination of stone and brick, of Para is located slightly further away and is on the western edge of the village. It is nothing remarkable

More on Para

Garpanchokot and Boronti, temples, forts and semaphore towers

Semaphore Tower, Jaichandi Hill[/caption

Semaphore Tower, Joychandi Hill

Garpanchokot (see map) and Jaichandi Hill (see map) are respectively located 58 km and 44 km from Purulia town.

Located at the base of the Panchet hill, Garhpanchkot offers a stunning landscapes. Apart from its share of natural beauty Garpanchakot has its share of scattered ruins dating back to 5th century CE.

Ruined temples and fragmented portions of the forts are all that remains of the Garhpanchkot. Sadly the temple, portion of which collapsed a few years back have totally been reconstructed. The new structure lacks the elegance and grace of its previous counterpart.

Jaichandi hills famous for its massive towering cliffs is one of the most visited destination of Purulia District but it does contain an interesting bit of history.

The hill top of Jaichandi is marked with a temple approachable by a flight of 480 steps. Half way half the temple is a ruined tower which was part of a signalling system dating back to the early 19th century.

Semaphore, popularly known as visual telegraph or optical telegraph, was a most popular communication technology in the pre – telegram days. The tower is part of a series of towers forming the semaphore line between Kolkata and Chunar

More on: Baranti       Semaphore Towers

Deuli, Harup and Suisa, crumbling temples, scattered statues and museum

Tirthankara Statue. inside main Deul of Deuli

Tirthankara Statue. inside main Deul of Deuli

Deuli, Harup and Suisa are three villages under Bagmundi sub – division of Purulia district, approximately 75 km south west of Purulia Town.

Deuli derives its name from the word deul, which literally translates into temple. Acording to historical records the village once had several temples but sadly only portions of a temple complex is all that left in Deuli today (Google map location).

The temple complex follows a panchayatan plan, with a central structure flanked with four smaller structures at the four corners. Only portion of the centre structure remains and traces of the two corner shrines also remains.

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. Strangely the inner sanctum is not empty but houses a three feat statue of a Jain 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. 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.

Statues at Suisa museum

Statues at Suisa museum

Located a short walk from the ruined temple of Deuli, in the village of Harup is a stone plaque with a sculpture of a female deity.

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 by in village of Suisa, houses a small one room museum (Google map location) housing statues collected from the nearby area. 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.

More on Deuli, Harup and Suisa

Mahadeb Berya, new Jain Temple with ancient idols

Statues at Mahadeb Berya Jain Temple

Statues at Mahadeb Berya Jain Temple

The Digambar Jain Temple in the village of Mahadeb Berya (also called Jambad) is an initiative of the Kharkhari Sarak community from the Dhanbad District of the neighboring state of Jharkhand.

The temple was established in 1973 and house the statues, which dates back several centuries.

The statues were collected from villages and were established inside the temple. There are a total of six statues. Every Sunday Jain devotees from Purulia town visit the temple and perform puja, complete with elaborate rituals.

Nothing much is known about the age of the statues, but experts believe that they date back to the 10 – 11th century AD and have similarities with Pala School of Sculpture.

Today Mahadeb Berya doesn’t contain any ancient structures but traces of pillars, door frames and other structural evidences are scattered inside the temple complex.

More on Mahadeb Berya

Krosjuri, an amalgamation of old and new

Siddheshwar Shiva Temple, Krosjhuri, Purulia District

Siddheshwar Shiva Temple, Krosjhuri, Purulia District

Krosjhuri is located about 42 km from Purulia Town and lies in the Kasipur Thana, Kasipur is just 13 km away. The nearest station is Indrabil. (Google Map location)

At a first glance the Siddheshwar Shiva Temple of Krosjhuri looks like a modern structure, but closer inspection revels that the present structure stands over an ancient structure.

Even the modern structure consists of several ancient elements such as decorative pillars and door frames. Also the complex house several ancient statues of lions and of other mythical animals and there are several hero stones, scattered in the complex.

The main shrine houses a giant Shiva Linga towering to a height of 90 cm and has a diameter of about 12 cm. Apart from the temple the complex houses a another structure housing some age old statues. Among the statues is a an interesting Kali statue, a ten handed figure resting on a buffalo and a figure seated on a lotus.

More on Krosjhuri

Telkupi, submerged temples

Siddheshwar Shiva Temple, Krosjhuri, Purulia District

Submerged temples of Telkupi, Purulia District

Historical records suggest that during the 10th – 13th century a 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.

Sadly due to centuries of neglect most of these temples have crumbled to dust and only ruined portions of a handful temples remains to this day. But it is not just human neglect that have wiped the temples that have wiped the temples out but several of them have been swallowed up by the emerging waters of the Panchet Dam

Joseph David Beglar, an Armenian-Indian engineer, archaeologist and photographer, who explored Manbhum region in 1870s reported the presence of 22 temples in Telkupi. Sadly only about three of them have survived to this day and the structure remains partially submerged under the water throughout the year.

Achkoda, Cheliyama, Begunkodor, Haraktore and many more…

The history and heritage of Purulia District continues with several other towns and villages housing crumbling ancient temples (or part of it), scattered statues or temple parts and even terracotta temples and rsa manchas.

Cheliyama and Achkoda contains two elaborately decorated terracotta temples. Sadly the temple at Cheliyama has been given a total makeover and in process lost it beauty and grace. The town of Begunkodar houses a huge Rasmancha with elaborate stucco decoration. Here also unscientific restoration or rather reconstruction have robbed the structure of its grace and elegance. Harkator houses a huge unexcavated mound exposing several stone Shiva lingas. A few of the statues excavated by the locals are housed in a small temple.

So next time when you are in Purulia do spent some time to explore beyond the hills, lakes and water falls as the district provides an interesting insight into the history of Bengal.

Note: This is an compilation post and not exhaustive. It would be updayed from time to time.

  1. Ilina
    November 25, 2020 at 5:17 PM

    Eye-opening! Please add places to stay.

    • November 25, 2020 at 10:51 PM

      This compilation consists of three trips to Purulia. Since it is a small district most of the places can be covered from Purulia Town. Purulia Town has a number of hotel options. Also, you can also cover some of the places from Boronti or Garpanchakot.

  2. December 8, 2020 at 2:18 PM

    Really impressive sites, it makes me wonder how they might have looked at the time they were completed 🙂

  3. Nilu
    May 28, 2021 at 10:46 PM

    I always wonder where these Deul structures arrived from. Now I know it is Jain architecture. Thanks for your article. I just fell in love with Purulia but never went to Deulghata. Will go there for sure.

    • May 28, 2021 at 11:13 PM

      The Deul structures also has a Odiya influence. Purulia has a lot to explore, let things improve a bit then explore Deulghata and more of Purulian

  4. Nilu
    May 29, 2021 at 10:52 PM

    There is another type of temple architecture that can be found uniquely in Bangladesh. Do you have any idea about the origin of these types of Temples? See this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonarang_Twin_Temples
    These are Moth (মঠ) types of Mandirs I think.

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