There are a number of Shiv mandir in Kolkata. Some are pretty old. I am concentrating only on the temples of north Kolkata. Today I shall be discussing on three such old Shiva temples of the area.
1. Durgeshwar Shiva Temple, Nimtala
Durgeshwar Shiva Temple at 16, Md. Ramjan Lane is an example of typical aatchala (eight slanting roof) style of Bengal temple architecture.
The temple was founded by the sons of Sri Madan Mohan Dutta of Hatkhola Dutta family about three hundred years ago in 1716.
The temple was once decorated with terracotta (meaning baked earth) and artistic creations. The devotees can easily assume the age of the temple considering the roots of the banyan trees which covered the eastern side of the temple.With the passage of time, most of the beautiful terracotta works and motifs are gone. However only a few trace of it still remains. The temple has three entrances – in the west, the north and the south.
The Shiva linga which is built in black stone measures about 10 ft in height. There is also an iron ladder so that the devotees can pour water and milk on the linga.
One can offer puja here from early morning till midday. There is a gap of about three hours after which the temple is reopened in the late afternoon and continued till night
2. Rameshwar Shiva Temple, Shovabazar
Rameshwar Shiva Temple at 52, Nandaram Sen Street is a classic example of aatchala style of Bengal Temple architecture. This type of architecture was quite familiar picture in the eighteenth and nineteenth century Bengal mainly in the districts of Howrah and Hooghly.
The massive bright red-coloured temple was founded by Nandaram Sen and the street in which it is situated is also named after him. Currently the temple had undergone renovation work.
It is rather difficult to know the year of foundation of this temple. Some say that it was founded in 1654 A.D, much before Job Charnock landed in Calcutta. There are altogether five plaques in the temple. On one of the plaques bore the year 1661 (Saka era), which when converted to Gregorian calendar comes to 1739 A.D.
The Shiva linga is about 6 ft tall. There are also the idols of Radha Krishna, Debi Annapurna and Kali Mata.
3. Baneshwar Shiva Temple, Kumartuli.
Baneshwar Shiva Temple is located at 2/5, Banomali Sarkar Street. The temple is built in aatchala style of Bengal Temple architecture. Like Durgeshwar Shiva Temple of Nimtala, it is also covered with roots of trees. A lot of weeds have grown and the temple top is shrouded by a tree.
Most of the terracotta works have gone and only a very few still survives the passage of time. Terracotta decorations include geometric and floral motifs which shows the brilliant workmanship of that age.
The temple is not so frequented by devotees as in the case of other Shiva temples and remains under lock and key for most of the time. It is in the verge of extinction.
The date of the construction of the temple is difficult to ascertain as there is no plaque, but since Banomali Sarkar built his house in the same area and that is around 1740s, it can be hopefully assumed that this temple may have come up around the same time.
The sanctum sanctorum contains the Shiva linga in the middle made of touchstone ( in Bengali it is called kostipathor). The linga is about three-and-a-half feet tall and is supported by a concrete structure, thereby preventing the stone from collapse.
Inside the temple there are two sodium vapour lamps. The walls are lime painted, and, that too, pretty long ago. The inside of the temple is damp. It shows that it is in utter neglect.
The Baneshwar Shiva is worshipped by a priest of the nearby Radha-Krishna Temple which was founded by the son-in-law of Banomali Sarkar.
- Blog of Soham Chandra.
- Kolikata Darpan by Radharaman Mitra (First Part).
- Kolkatar Mandir Masjid by Tarapada Santra.
- Brick Temples of Bengal (From the Archives of David McCutchion).
Date of posting: 3rd June, 2017.