250-year-old temple in Bengal village faces wrath of a river, administration sleeps

Built by Rani Bhabani, queen of Nator, three years after the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the four structures of the Char Bangla temple are unique and the terracotta sculptures cannot be found elsewhere else.
The famous Char Bangla temple at Baranagar in Murshidabad district faces the risk of being washed away by the Bhagirathi river.(HT Photo)
The famous Char Bangla temple at Baranagar in Murshidabad district faces the risk of being washed away by the Bhagirathi river.(HT Photo)
Published on Jul 15, 2017 04:30 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | BySreyasi Pal

In West Bengal’s Murshidabad district, a river that is fast eroding its banks may soon wipe out a priceless part of history. It is the famous ‘Char Bangla’ temple dedicated to Shiva by a Hindu queen more than 250 years ago. The administration is aware of the situation and local people are praying for a miracle. The temple is a famous tourist destination and finds mention in tripadvisor.in and goibibo.com.

Rani Bhabani, the queen of Nator, a province that became part of Bangladesh post 1947, had built some exquisite terracotta temples in Murshidabad. The district incidentally was the capital of undivided Bengal, Bihar and Orissa till the British East India Company defeated Siraj ud-Daula, the last independent ruler of the state, in the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The Char Bangla Mandir was the most unique among the temples the queen had built.

After changing its course, the Bhagirathi river now flows barely ten feet away from the temple (in background) (HT Photo)
After changing its course, the Bhagirathi river now flows barely ten feet away from the temple (in background) (HT Photo)

Situated at Baranagar in the district’s Azimgunj area, the temple may soon be sucked away by the choppy waters of the Bhagirathi river, local people fear. When the temple was built around 1760 the river used to flow at least a kilometre away. But the Bhagirathi changed its course several times and eroded its banks, destroying life, property and farmland. Today, the temple is barely 10 feet away and its boundary wall has already been damaged by the river. 

Historians say that Rani Bhabani ruled over such a vast area that she used to be addressed as ‘Ardha Bangeshwar’ (lord of half of Bengal). Historians also believe that after the death of her husband she became a devotee of Shiva and constructed several temples dedicated to the god of destruction. After she died, her daughter used to offer prayer at the temples in Baranagar. 

Read: THE OLD MAN RIVER Escaping Brahmaputra’s fury

Secretary of Murshidabad Zilla Itihas O Sanskriti Charcha Kendra, Arindam Roy said, “One can find several 'Ek Bangla' or 'Jor Bangla' temples in Bengal but there is no other 'Char Bangla' temple.” The temples are famous for their exquisite terracotta sculptures that depict either daily village life or tales from Hindu mythology. The terms Ek Bangla, Jor Bangla and Char Bangla indicate the number of structures that were built in the form of a typical Bengal village. Char (four in Bengali) means there are four houses. 

The Bhagirathi river has already destroyed a part of the temple’s boundary wall. (HT Photo)
The Bhagirathi river has already destroyed a part of the temple’s boundary wall. (HT Photo)

“Terracotta originated in the Bankura district of Bengal and became famous across the country. Most people are not even aware that the temples at Baranagar are the finest examples of terracotta art,” said Roy. “The Char Bangla temple is part of India’s history. Thousands of people come here every year,” he added. 

The Bhagirathi started eroding its banks at Baranagar a few years ago. The river has already washed away many homes and several hectors of land. Yet, nothing has been done to save the Char Bangla temple. “The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is the custodian of the temple. We informed the ASI about the erosion a year ago,” said Roy. 

Read: Bengal floods: 58,000 people affected, red alert issued in Jalpaiguri

Babulal Sardar, pradhan of the local Trinamool-run Mukundabagh gram panchayat, said: “I am aware of the danger the temple faces. If no action is taken immediately the river will destroy it. But the panchayat cannot set up embankments on its own.” When asked whether he informed the district administration, Sardar said: “We haven’t yet formally informed district administrative officers. We will write a letter to the block administration in a day or two." 

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior district administration official said, “We were completely in the dark. We will take every possible step to save the historic structures.”

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Seven aborted embryos were found in an open drain in Mudalgi town of Karnataka’s Belagavi district. (HT Archives)

    7 foetuses found in Belagavi drain; postmortem ordered

    The administration of Karnataka's Belagavi district on Saturday said that the process for conducting the postmortem on the seven aborted embryos, found in a drain, has begun and that the findings will possibly be out on Monday or Tuesday, giving more clarity on if it is a case of female foeticide. The district administration and police have already identified the medical facility responsible for the incident.

  • Former chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) HD Kumaraswamy equating the renaming of wards in Bengaluru to the ongoing textbook controversy. (PTI)

    Kumaraswamy hits out at Karnataka government over renaming of BBMP wards

    Former chief minister and Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Karnataka on Saturday over the renaming of wards in Bengaluru during the delimitation process. Bommai had also announced the setting up of a commission to study the political representation of backward classes, headed by Justice Bhaktavatsala and retired IAS official CR Chikmath appointed as its member.

  • Pune police register FIR against three unknown persons for allegedly conducting a fake ACB raid at the residence of PMC official. (AFP (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION))

    Three booked for trying to extort PMC official

    PUNE The Pune Police registered a first information report (FIR) against three unknown persons for allegedly conducting a fake Anti-Corruption Bureau raid at the residence of Dattatraya Pawar, deputy director of the urban planning department of the Pune Municipal Corporation, on Saturday. The accused were intending to extort 5 lakh from the government official. Pawar has filed a police complaint at Warje – Malwadi police station on Saturday. Immediately they approached police.

  • The accused has been identified as Vikas Sanjay Hagawane (30), a resident of Bhukum, Mulshi taluka. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

    Man held for stealing laptops, mobile phones from hospitals in Pimpri-Chinchwad

    The Pimpri Chinchwad police arrested a 30-year-old man on Saturday for allegedly stealing laptops and mobile phones from hospitals. The police recovered 7 laptops and 35 mobile phones worth 5.25 lakh from tVikas Sanjay Hagawane (30), a resident of Bhukum, Mulshi taluka The accused has been identified as Vikas Sanjay Hagawane (30), a resident of Bhukum, Mulshi taluka. Based on their complaint, police arrested the accused after checking CCTV footage. The police searched his house and found the laptops and mobile phones.

  • The petitioner, who is seeking divorce and alimony, is the director of an educational institution and claims he faced constant harassment from his wife. The woman is the president of the same educational institute. They have two daughters who are married. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)

    Pune family court orders woman to pay 25,000 per month alimony to former husband

    After over four years of trial, a family court in Pune has directed a 78- year-old woman to pay monthly alimony of 25,000 to her estranged 83-year-old husband, who does not have a permanent source of income. The couple married in 1964 and the husband filed for divorce in 2018. When the woman had undergone illness, the petitioner took good care of her. Frustrated with her harassment, the petitioner filed for divorce in 2018.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, June 26, 2022