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Barakar Temples : neglected Gems

Updated on January 9, 2011

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.

Temples 1 & 2
Temples 1 & 2
Inside temple no. 3 -- you can see the 4 Shiva lingams in front & 1 on the left behind.
Inside temple no. 3 -- you can see the 4 Shiva lingams in front & 1 on the left behind.
A real parakeet on the temple no. 3!
A real parakeet on the temple no. 3!
The pinnacle of the temple no. 3
The pinnacle of the temple no. 3
Temple no. 3
Temple no. 3
temple no. 3 with  4 behind
temple no. 3 with 4 behind
Temple no. 1
Temple no. 1
Temple no. 2
Temple no. 2
The pinnacle of temple no. 1
The pinnacle of temple no. 1
The pinnacle of temple no. 2
The pinnacle of temple no. 2
Inside temple no. 1(three Shiva Lingams in front)
Inside temple no. 1(three Shiva Lingams in front)
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Decoration of Temple no. 1
Temple No. 3
Temple No. 3
Decoration of the pinnacle of temple no. 4
Decoration of the pinnacle of temple no. 4
The pinnacle of temple no. 4
The pinnacle of temple no. 4
The Shiva Lingam inside the temple no. 4
The Shiva Lingam inside the temple no. 4
Inside temple no. 2 : Ganesha Idol with 3 Shiva Lingams in front
Inside temple no. 2 : Ganesha Idol with 3 Shiva Lingams in front
Temple no. 4
Temple no. 4

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    • profile image

      Ananda 

      4 years ago

      Is it 1461 OR 1416 - at the entrance the ASI board says "A TEMPLE BELONGING TO LATER GROUP OF CONSTRUCTIONS IS DATED BY AN INSCRIPTION TO 1416 A.D." which is the one build in 1416 A.D. ?

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 

      5 years ago from Tumkur

      Fine! thanks for writing on this.

    • profile image

      Somen Sengupta 

      6 years ago

      Excellent photographs - I have once written an article on these temples in The Telegraph.You can read it here http://www.somensengupta.com/Barakar.html

    • othic profile image

      othic 

      7 years ago

      nice work!! I am so interested in traveling and this motivates me to take a look at this place !

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