Amadpur, a village in Memari – I block of Bardhaman Sadar South subdivision offers a unique collection of terracotta temples coupled with a heritage home stay in a renovated zamindari house of the Chaudhuris. According to the available records, it was Krishna Ram Sen Sharma who was bestowed the title of Chudhuri by the Mughals.
The Chaudhuris had a number of temples and mansions. One of the mansions is renovated and has been converted into a heritage homestay by Shiladitya Chaudhuri. It is a three storied house consisting of three double bed rooms and a four bed room – two each on first and second floors. There are many unique things to note – the narrow flight of stairs made of thin bricks; the rooms have antique furnitures and “four-poster bed”, specially the mirrors made of Belguim glass and attached bathrooms. These remind us of the bygone days. Attached bathrooms, and that too, nearly four hundred years ago; yes, as these rooms were once used by the ladies of the family.
A room at Baithakkhana Amadpur
Another thing which I note in my recent stay at Baithakkhana Amadpur which is about 387 years old is that though it is hot outside; but comparatively it is pretty comfortable inside – thanks to the 42 inch wall. At night the room temperature drops. I found that there are no tube lights in the room but beautiful antique lamps adding granduer.
The temple complex near Baithkkhana Amadpur
Dolmancha & four temples
The temple complex consisting of a Dolmancha and four temples – three are of Bengal’s traditional aatchala style (eight roofed) and one is a hexagonal dedicated to Lord Shiva. All the temples contain terracotta panels and have undergone renovation. The second temple on the right, as one enters the Chaudhuri mansion is dedicated to Lord Tilobhandeswar Mahadev. I have been told by Mr. Chaudhuri that this Shiva Lingam is increasing in its height. On the back side of the dolmancha, there is a large lake, a unique place to spend the evening in the lap of nature. On the day of Holi (Dolyatra), the idols of Radha-Madhav are taken out of the temple and placed on the dolmancha in the early hours of the morning. Debdol is an unique event in which abir or coloured powders are first given to the god and later people play holi.
Durga Bari where the annual Durga puja is held every year.
A few minutes walk from the Chaudhuri mansion will lead one to the Durga Bari which houses the nat mandir of the family built in the year 1662. The buidling is quadrangular in shape. Here apart from Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Kartick Puja, Rashyatra and Saraswati Puja are held with pomp and gaiety. Dolyatra. Phul Dol, Snanyatra and Rathyatra (chariot festival) are also held every year. The principal festival here is Durgoutsav. It is unique in the sense that here it lasts for 19 days (14 days for bodhan and 5 days for puja) as compared to the traditional five days. The immersion procession is remarkable in the sense that people carry mashal or traditional torches.
The Rathyatra in Amadpur
I being lucky to witness the Rathyatra of the Chaudhuris. Here it is a grand affair. The idols of Radha-Madhav are first worshipped and then placed on the chariot. The present chariot was being used from 2001 onwards. I have been told by Mr. Chaudhuri that earlier there was thirteen-pinnacled (tero chura) chariot. The added attraction is the fair (Rather mela). Another thing to mention here is on the day of Rathyatra, the mud which clings to the wheels of the chariot are used to begin making the frame for the Durga idol. Here one will also find the the structures of Kali, Kartick and Saraswati.
The priest performing the rituals on the day of Rathyatra.
Radha Madhav Temple
Less than a minute walk from the nat mandir is the famous Radha Madhav temple. It is an aatchala temple containing beautiful panels of terracotta work both in the pillar and at the base. A new mandap was built there.
The lake on the back side of Dolmancha.
Another famous temple of Amadpur is the Anandomoyee Temple close to the Chaudhuri Mansion. Built in 1842, it houses the idol of Anandomoyee. The wife of Mahesh Chandra Chaudhuri had a dream and after that the idol and the temple were built. No animal sacrifice was performed here. The current temple has undergone renovation.
(L) Entrance to the Durga Bari & (R) Kachari Bari
When I went for a walk in the evening I noticed a number of old temples and structures. One such structure is kachari bari or the office. Mr. Chaudhuri informed me that they have a total of twelve temples in Amadpur and most of them are dedicated to Lord Shiva. I found two Shiva temples side by side and in a dilapidated condition. There are also three temples and all contain beautiful terracotta works. One is dedicated to Lord Shiva; the other to Lord Gopalji and another to Debi Chandi.
Twin Shiva temples.
The temple of Madan Gopal was built in 1137 as per Bengali calendar which according to the Gregorian calendar dates back to 1730. The foundation plaque at the top of the temple wall shows the dates in the Saka era and as per the Bengali calendar. It depicts 1652 as per Saka calendar. (Add 78 and then comes the date in the Gregorian calendar). Luckily for me I met the member of the family to whom the temple belongs. According to her the idol of Gopal was made from wood of neem tree. Daily worship is performed here. According to B.B. Banerjee, a family member, the principal festivals are Janmasthami and Dolyatra. The temple contains panels of terracotta works of floral motifs and designs. A considerable amout of terracotta works has survived the ages.
Madan Gopal Temple
I have been told by Mrs. Banerjee that there is also another beautiful temple nearby and within the residential area. As per her direction I reached the place and was mesmerised. It is another beautiful temple full of terracotta works dedicated to Debi Chandi. But when I visited it, the temple was closed.
The third temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is not in a good shape but contain terracotta works, though much of it has been destroyed. But still it reminds of the old days.
Another temple, the last in my trip to Amadpur is a traditional aatchala Shiva temple of Baba Buro Shiv. It was restored in 2013.
Last but not the least is the delicious Bengali lunch at Baithakkhana Amadpur. Poppy seeds, being the “important ingredient in the cusine of Burdwan district” is used and cooked in various forms. I have been served posta tarkari (poppy seeds used in the curry). The local curd or Misthi Doi is mouth watering.
At the first floor at Baithakkhana Amadpur
The home stay in zamindari style together with delicious Bengali meal in Baithakkhana Amadpur still lingers in my memory.
In order to reach Amadpur, the nearest railway station is Memari in Howrah-Bardhaman main line. One has to take a toto to reach the village and it is about fifteen minutes distance from the station.
Date of posting: 21st July, 2018.