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Ekteswar, the Unifier Shiva
Ekteswar, the Unifier Shiva
The town of Bankura , West Bengal, India is famous for an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva , worshiped here as Ekteswar or Ekpadeswar. Situated about 3 km from the town of Bankura, on the bank of river Darakeswar, this comparatively less known temple is unique in many respects.
First of all, The Shiva Lingam (the Phallic form of Lord Shiva) is not at all phallic in shape or position. Rather, it is like the shape of a human foot, lying horizontally instead of standing upright like the common Lingams.
Secondly, the temple of Lord Ekteswar/Ekpadeswar is built in an atypical PIRHA (one of the two classical Nagara or North Indian temple architectural styles, the other being Shikhara/Rekh ) pattern.
Thirdly, the temple complex contains examples of several types of temple architectural designs, viz. Classical Nagara (North Indian) style (PIRHA variety), Chala type of Bengal temple style (with 2 sub-varieties Aat Chala & Char Chala), Ratna type of Bengal temple style (Pancha Ratna or 5 pinnacled) & a Dalan type (of Bengal school) Naat Mandir.
The main temple of Ekteswar /Ekpadeswar
This huge temple , built of stone (mainly Laterite but plastered all over) has an atypical PIRHA or pyramidal architectural pattern, with a huge AMLOK SHILA on top. The main body (Gandi) of the temple has deep angular projections (Ratha). This portion of the temple is much more older than the front portion which is made of brick & has some terracotta works of the traditional Bankura style.
The sanctum sanctorum has a 7 feet deep well with the foot-shaped Lingam at the base. This well is connected to the nearby Darakeswar river, the water of which sometimes enter into the temple well as if to bath the Lingam.
The temple has a colorful history. One mythological story says that the temple was established by the Pandavas of the Mahabharata fame, & the temple was constructed by Viswakarma the celestial architect. Another states that the Lingam of presiding deity of Lord Ekteswar was brought here by SUKRACHARYA, the Guru of the Demons. On a more modern version, this temple was established by the Malla kings of Vishnupur. But the most accepted version is that the Malla Kings renovated a pre-existing ancient temple, & added some newer portions to the existing structure.
Even the name of the presiding deity bears some controversy. One theory goes that the name is EKPADESWAR (The Lord with one Foot) since the Lingam is shaped like a human foot.
Another more historical story says that the name is EKTESWAR, which is derived from EKATA- ISWAR (the Lord of Unity), as the Lord Shiva here once mediated between the fighting ruling clans of Mallabhum & Samantabhum over territorial disputes, & founded their unity.
The temple complex is surrounded by a high wall with a beautiful entrance gate with lovely decorations of images of Hindu deities.
Other temples in the complex:
Maha Vishnu temple : This small temple has one of the most beautiful idol of Lord Vishnu with the seven-hooded serpent Sapta Naga over His head.
The temple of the Holy Bull Nandi : Situated in front of the main temple & facing it, is the Pancha Ratna (5 pinnacled) temple of Nandi, the Holy Bull. Actually, there are two bulls, built of stone, both beautifully curved.
Bhoirab Temple : This temple is built in AAT CHALA (eight –roofed)pattern of Bengal temple architecture, but the Chala/roof is somewhat atypical when compared with the standard Aat Chala temples seen elsewhere.
Tara temple : This small Char Chala ( 4 roofed) temple in front of the main temple has two deities, a small Shiva Lingam which is comparatively new & an ancient idol of goddess TARA ( a form of Goddess Kali).
The terracotta works of the main temple :
The front portion of the main temple (which is a later addition by the Malla Kings & is brick-built) has some terracotta figures of different gods & goddesses of the Hinduism, mainly Krishna, Shiva & Ganesha. However, the quality of the terracotta art works is just ordinary. Moreover, these are coated with some plaster & painted with colors, thereby looking somewhat cheaper than their famous cousins in the temples of Vishnupur or other places nearby.