The influence of Orissa is very clear on a number of temples in Bankura District. There is number of Rekha Temples in Bankura district and they all follow closely the Rekha type of temples in Orissa. Such temples are found in Orissa with a characteristic feature of curvilinear sikhara- a tower like construction formed by the four walls gradually carving inwards from the very beginning and almost meeting at a top known as AMALOKA- SILA. This type of temple called “Rekh Dual”. The brick temple at BAHULARA (The Siddheshwara temple) was typical example of blending between Orissa and Bengal styles of architecture.
Bankura is considered as a land of temples, mostly belonging to a late mediaeval period especially those which were constructed in the time of the Malla rulers of Vishnupur. The temple which may be brought within the purview to study is “Bahulara” or Bolara temple. Of course, there is a difference of opinion among the scholars regarding the date of the temple. The temple has been visited and studied by a number of scholars in the past.
Bahulara village is accessible both by road and is about 5km from Onda railway station (25 km, from Bishunupur).The Siddheshwara Temple is well known for its unique architectural style and exquisite ornamentation of the temple walls. The temple dedicated to Shiva, located in the village Bhulara, is considered the finest specimen of brick rekha deul temple made in the line of Orissa architecture ascribe to Pala (Medieval) period. Beside a Shiva lingam the temple has images of Ganesha, Jain tirthankar Paarasanath and one of Mahisasurmardini deity.
Situated on the banks of the Dwarakeswar River, “Siddheshwari temple at Bahulara in the Bankura district is probably the finest specimen of brick build rekha deul temple of mediaeval period now standing in Bengal”, according to Nalini Kanta Bhattasali. Unfortunately the amalok and kalas at the top had fallan down. In the month of Chaitra the Bahulara Siva Gajan is held spread over three days. Hundreds of Bhaktas come to the place and do certain types of self-immolation. The area is full of old relics and mounds and there is no doubt that an excavation would even now yield excellent results.
Photograph of bahulara temple taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1872-73.
The various mounds surrounding the temple at Bahulara have led archeologists to speculate that it was a Buddhist centre at some point of time. The mounds are believed to be Buddhist Chaityas. The remains of Buddhist Bhikhus, after cremation, were thus buried. Prior to the dominance of Shaivism, the area was influenced by Buddhism and Jainism. Jainism flourished till around 7th century A.D.
J.D. Beglar observed like this “The object of worship inside is named Siddheswara, being a large lingam apparently in situ. I conclude, therefore, that the temple was originally Shaivic. Besides the lingam there are inside a naked jain standing figure, a ten armed female (Durga) and a Ganeca; the Jain figure is clear proof of the existence of Jain religion in this parts in old times, through I cannot point to the precise temple or spot which was devoted to this sect.”
A few circular brick-basements lying on the southern side of the temple of Bahulara have been identified by Mr. S. K. Saraswati as Stupa-basements. As suggested by Saraswati, “These brick structures, however, have only their basements preserved.” He Also added “Although the basement of the “pancharatha” type is supposed to the part of the huge structure, it is an illustration of the truth that the brick- made stupas in Bengal have only their basements preserved. The Basement of Buddhist stupas in Bahulara, probably, was much earlier in date than its temple by the side of which it is found.”
1 Iconography of Buddhist and Bhahminical Sculpture by Nalinikanta Bhattasali.
2 Bankurer Mandir by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhya.
3 Pashim Banger Sanskriti by Binoy Ghosh. (Part-1)
4 S.K.Sarasti (1943) “Architecture”, in R.C.Majumder edited “The History of Bengal”, Vol-1,Dhaka.
5 “A Tour Through the Bengal Provinces” by J.D. Beglar
Research – Santanu Roy
Picture Courtesy – Sritam Mukherjee