In the middle of the 19th century, during the British rule a mysterious tower like structure was discovered in Asansol area of West Bengal. This is located in middle of the Sundarbans. This, structure dates back to 11 or 12th century. It is a miraculous feat that the tower has withstood the test of time and nature.
According to historians, during the Sena era, this area had a Lord Shiva temple where Mahadev was known as Jata due to his matted hair. Some people also believe that this was a Buddhist temple of the Pali era. There is no conclusive decision as to who created the temple and when was it created. This air of mystery adds to the charm.
Architecture - The entire tower is a terracotta structure. Interestingly, Jatar Deul temple is not built according to Bengali architecture. It follows the Oriya architectural pattern.There are evidences of clay structures and pottery. The temple is about 70 feet high with a base that is about 25 by 25 feet.
A brick staircase takes you to the main mandapam which is a squarish room and contains a terracotta Shiva ling. There are various motifs on the walls. While the remains were being dug out stone carvings and copper coins bearing elephant figurines were also discovered.
The Shikhara or Crowing is a structure that was always visible even from the midst of lush green fields. This temple has long been abandoned. However, now it has been declared as a protected site by the Archaeological society of India.
Conservation - The Historians and Archaeologists of Kolkata circle try there best to conserve and unearth the remains of this structure. During the course of time, lime scaling, water seeping inside or walls caving down have hampered the structure.
Jatar Deul Archaeology Survey Board
Festivals/Prayers - A grand ceremony of horse racing is held in front of temple on Mahashivratri day. On this day, thousands of people gather to pay their respects to the Shiv Ling. Regular Pujas are held here.
How to reach - Jatar Deul is located in Sundarbans, among paddy fields. Naturally, the commute is a little long. However, it is a one day tour.
From Sealdah by train ,Mathurapur is 1 hour and 40 mins. Then one can take auto or minibus to Raidighi(45 mins.) and then to Kankandighi.
From Kolkata – Diamond Harbour bus/train to Raidigh bus
From Kankan Dighi one can take a motor van to Jatar Deul
Nearby cities -
ASI unearths untold temple story by Sebanti Sarkar, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 16 Feb.
Image Courtesy - Google Images