Barakar Temples : neglected Gems
Barakar is a small town about 17 km from Asansol (220 km from Calcutta) at the junction of the states of West Bengal & Jharkhand. A dusty & congested town in the midst of coal mines, Barakar boasts of a surprisingly majestic group of stone-built medieval temples of Bengal Architecture, belonging to the SHIKHAR or REKH-DEUL style.
The temple complex is known locally as “BEGUNIA” temples because of the similarity of the shapes of the temples with “BEGUN”(the fruit of the eggplant).
There are 4 temples in the Begunia complex. They are numbered as they are seen from the entrance. Number 1 & 2 are at the entrance (No. 1 to the right & 2 to the left of the observer). No. 3 is at a little distance (approximately 100 meters) from these two, & the No. 4 is right behind the N0. 3.
No.1 & No. 2 are typical REKH-DEUL with a single pinnacle rising straight to the heaven, built around 1461 A.D. The pinnacles are intricately decorated with geometric designs & idols of different Hindu mythological figures, as well as of some animal figures. No. 1 is more decorated than no. 2.
Inside, the No. 1 contains 3 Shiva Lingams & a stone figure, presumably of Goddess Kali.
No. 2 contains 3 Shiva Lingams & a Ganesha (the Elephant-headed god of Success) idol, covered with vermillion.
The No. 3, again a typical Rekh-Deul , built in 13th century A.D. It’s single pinnacle is decorated with geometric patterns & animal figures. Inside, there are 5 Shiva Lingams & a stone figure, presumably of Goddess Parvati.
The No. 4 temple , smaller than the other three, is perhaps the most important. It was built in 8th/9th century A.D. Though it is now a ShivaTemple housing the Shiva Lingam called SIDDHESWAR SHIVA, it was probably a JAIN temple originally. The pinnacle is shorter than the other three, & there is a huge AMLOK SHILA (a circular designed stone shaped like a AMLA fruit or Indian goose berry) on the top. This is in accordance with the classical Nagara architecture of Northern Indian style.
It is evident that Barakar was once a Buddhist and/or Jain religious centre. Thereafter, it became a Hindu religious centre (Shaivite & possibly Vaishnavite).
The temples of Barakar is a fine example of ancient temple architecture found in West Bengal & needs more tourist attention.
More by this Author
Temples of Khardah Khardah is a small town in the district of North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. It is on the eastern bank of the sacred river Ganges, about 25 km from Kolkata. Khardah is an important place for the...
Situated at an altitude of 867 metres inside the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal, Buxa Fort is a nice place to visit. It's importance is mainly for it's association with the freedom fight of India.
Naimisharanya is a sacred place of pilgrimage. Situated in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the place is related to ancient mythology. With the "bottomless" pond Chakratirtha, it is worth visiting.