Dharapat is a village in Bishnupur subdivision of Bankura district in the Indian State of West Bengal. It is 12 Kilometres north of Bishnupur.
Bankura District is considered as a land of temples, mostly belonging to the late mediaeval period especially those which were constructed in the time of the Malla rulers of Bishnupur. The influence of Orissa is very clear on a number of temples in Bankura district. There is number of Rekha Deoul (Linear Temple Structure) in Bankura district. The ( not so famous) temples of Dharapat is considered to be of pre Muslim time while the other temples are post Muslim time in age.
With the discovery of good number of Jaina images within Bankura District, we may assume that Jainism is more accepted by the people than Bhddhism. In spite of the predominance of Brahmical images, the significance of the impressive array of Jaina sculpture can hardly be overlooked. The find spots of Jaina images show that they are found mostly in the southern part of the district that touches the border of Purulia (Manbhum) discrict.
The Bankura district, like Purulia, was deeply influenced by Jainism in the middle ages. Hinduism later became the dominant religion in Bengal and many of the Jain temples across the state are converted in to Vishnu Temples. The main temple of Dharapat is one of the rare ones where Hindu and Jain have existed side by side for centuries. The deul-style temple was built in between 1694 to 1704 by Raja of Dharapat – King Advish. It came up in place of a plastered laterite structure that had collapsed. The new temple has four small statues of flying lions on its four sides, a characteristic of Orissa school of architecture.
There are many stone relics in Dharapat Temple walls. One of them is a statue of Pareshnath that has been converted into a Bishnu idol by adding two hands. The change indicates the over powering Hindu influence after the decline of Jainism in the area.
There are three excellent stone idols within the temple enclve- two Jain deities and Vishnu. All three are on the outer walls. The jain daity is naked indicating the influence of Digamber sect. The idol is Shyama Chand Thakur, locally known as Nangta Thakur. Barren women of the locality worship at the temple with the hope of bearing a child.
The massive image of Vishnu is embedded on the eastern wall. There are four smaller images on the four conners two of them are of figures flying over Vishnu’s head while two women are at his feet. One of them is shown playing the veena. Vishnu holds shankho, chakra, gada and padma in his hands. Around the statue of the naked deity are six smaller images of Hindu gods. There are also two sentinels at the bottom of the wall and two on the top corners.
The abandoned temple of Shyamchand is worth a visit. The main idol was stolen from Garva Griva some years ago. Floral designs adorn the temple walls.
The Archaeological Survey of India has now taken up the upkeep of the temple. We also stop over at a group of 10 abandoned temples with rasmancha in the same village. There are a few more temples in a dilapidated shape in the vicinity.
West Bengal was once house of Jainism from the beginning, till 13th or 14th century. The main reason was nearness of Sammed Shikhar (Pareshnath) the last resting place of twenty Jain Thithankar, near Dhanbad,the highest degree pilgrimage site of all Jain sects. Lord Mahavira visited there many a times and many people followed them including tribes and local common people, many Kings patronized Jainism from their hearts. This happened till 13th century until other faiths were much attacking, later due to many reasons Jainism was abandoned there.
- “Bankurer Mandir” by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhya.
- “Pashim Banger Sanskriti” by Binoy Ghosh.
- “Bengal District Gazetter” Manbhum, 1911.
- “Jaina Iconography” By Umakant Premanand Shah.
Research – Santanu Roy
Picture Courtesy – Sritam Mukherjee