There are so many old temples scattered all over West Bengal. They were built at different periods and each had a distinct architecture and history. My interest towards those temples led me to search for them. I came to know about Haurihat Shiv Mandir first in David McCutchion’s book entitled “Brick Temples of Bengal.”
Later a colleague of mine helped me in locating this temple. It is situated in Jagadishpur village of Mandirbazar block of Diamond Harbour subdivision of South 24 Parganas district. I came to know that it is one of the oldest Shiva Temples of South Bengal.
Founded in 1633 A.D, this twin Shiva temples – Bhubaneswar in the western side and Jogeshwar in the eastern side are about fifty feet in height. Both the temples are south facing. Though the current temples have undergone complete renovation, as one of them collapsed almost half-a-century ago; but the strange thing is that nobody suffered any injury nor the shiva lingam got damaged. The temple of Jogeswar collapsed while that of Bhubaneshwar got damaged. The masons who built this newly renovated temple have tried their utmost to maintain the design of the old temple as far as they can. According to David McCutchion, the temple is a “tightly ridged type with curved cornice and pointed shikhara”. The temple sanctum contains the Shiva lingam made of kasthi pathar or touch stone placed on a lotus. Each lingam is about four feet in height.
The temple had a history. Once upon a time there lived an issueless widow named Hauri and she inherited a huge property from both her father’s and in-law’s side. She wanted to utilise this money for some noble cause and, accordingly, planned to construct twin Shiva temples in the area, and she was successful. She also decided to set up a village fair (hat) in the open adjoining ground twice a week – on Thursdays and Sundays. During that time there were no local fair in the area, and, naturally people from the neighbouring villages came here for trade. As a result, this area drew huge crowd specially on those two days. As Hauri set up this hat, this area came to be known as Haurihat. Kori was the medium of exchange in those local fairs.
The commodities that were used to be sold here included domesticated animals, birds, vegetables and things of daily use. Naturally those who came here also offer worship to Lord Shiva. When I visited this place recently, I found that a big shade has been built to protect the people from the scorching heat and rain.
Hauri, the pious lady, also made a huge pond of about ten bighas dug in the adjoining hat area. Not only that she also got a ghat constructed there so that not only the pilgrims but also the village folk can bathe. I was told that this pond was previously connected to a canal. The remains of that ghat still exists; but the pond has now become shallow.
(i) Brick Temples of Bengal – David McCutchion;
(ii) Banglar Tin Prachin Shiva Mandir – Radhakrishna Naskar.
Date of Posting: 20th August, 2018.