The temples of Ukhra, West Bengal
- It is a small town about 14 km from Durgapur; 7 km from Andal mor at NH-2 in the district of Bardhaman, West Bengal.
- The Zamindars or landlords of Ukhra , the Lal Singha Handa family, originally came from from Lahore, west Punjab, now in Pakistan. The first family-head Kebal Ram migrated first to Murshidabad, the then capital of Bengal about 250 years back; later the family settled in Ukhra (previously Shergar). After him Ramchandra & then Meruchandra was the Raja of Ukhra. Bishan Kumari, daughter of Meruchandra was married to Maharaj Trilok Chand of Burdwan. Bishan Kumari established the famous 109 Shiva temples of Nawab Hat in Burdwan.
- Temples of Ukhra :
1. Jora Shiva temple : This pair of small laterite temples are of the same type à Tightly ridged Rekha temple with terracotta façade & single entrance of the 19th century Birbhum-Bardhaman style; established by the Handa family in 1836. The terracotta work is rather crude, but extensive. Of the identifiable figures, prominent ones are of Matsyavatar , Kurmavatar, Vamanavatar (of Vishnu), Krisna with His flute, Krishna with Radha, Chaturvuj Narayan, A figure with a plough (? Balaram) & some other unidentifiable figures.
2. RamChandra Jiu temple : A big Pancha ratna (5 pinnacled) laterite built temple with RasMancha & Dol Manchaof Vishnupur style, this temple was established by Meruchandra Handa in 1739 AD. With triple entrance, this temple has minimal stucco work & the most beautiful idols of Lord Rama with Sita, Lakshjman, Bharat & Hanuman. The temple has been recently painted a rather loud orange!
3. Gopinath Jiu temple : Situated by the side of Ram Chandra temple in the same complex, this dalan (flat roofed) type of temple was established in 1801 AD by Baktar Singh Handa. Again a big temple with Naat Mandir & Bhog Mandir, this temple is also very loudly colored.
4. Mahanta Asthal Vrindavan Chandra temple : Established by the Mahantas of Nimbark clan, this huge temple complex has a 9 pinnacled Rasmancha (again orange!) & an unusually green-colored big main temple . The main temple is Dalan (flat roofed) type, with 9 small pinnacles on top of a roof which is traditional KHILAN type . Inside the sanctum sanctorum, there are a large no. of Narayan Shilas ( sacred stones which are regarded as symbol of Lord Vishnu) along with the deities. The main temple is >250 yrs old.
5. Ukhra Chatterjees’ Vishnu temple : A medium sized laterite temple with flat roof & triple entrance. Almost hidden in a maze of narrow lanes, this old temple was shown to us by an enthusiastic local lad Nirmal Banerjee.