Uttarpara, a municipal town under Serampore subdivision of Hooghly district enjoys the status of being the first muncipality of West Bengal in 1853. Later in 1964 Kotrung was added to it and thereafter it now becomes Uttarpara-Kotrung Muncipality.
Apart from being the home of the then biggest public library in India – Uttarpara Jaikrishna Public Library established in 1859, the town also houses a number of temples by the side of the Ganges – twin Shiva temples in ‘Mandirbati’ area and two aatchala (eight roofed) Shiv Mandir with a pancha ratna (five pinnacled) temple with terracotta panel in the middle of the same temple complex.
The principal deity in all the three temples is Lord Shiva – the name of the deity in the left aatchala temple is Baba Sankarnath; that of the pancha ratna temple is Baba Panchanan and of the right aatchala temple is Baba Siddhinath.
The temples were founded by Late Panchanan Bandopadhyay, son of Late Durgacharan Bandopadhyay on the auspicious day of Shivaratri in the year 1201 according to Bengali calendar; which when converted to Gregorian comes to 1795. All the temples are in a raised platform possibly to get relief from the tide waters as the temples are close to the Ganges.
All the three temples contain terracotta decorations but the pancha ratna temple contain exquisite terracotta works. The terracotta depict stories from the Ramayana specially the battle scene. It also portrays stories of Krishnalila. One thing to mention here is that as the temples have undergone renovation work, some terracotta decoration were lost; but surprising to see such a temple bearing such work exists so close to Kolkata.
The original foundation plaque of the pancha ratna temple is hard to decipher though it exists but thanks to two stone plaques towards the base of the temple – one comparatively old in the left and another new on the right from which it becomes easy to ascertain the year of foundation of the temple. There is also a stone bull in the elevated complex. There is also a Kali temple constructed about half a century ago just opposite to the three temples.
Just a few minutes walk from this temple complex houses two comparatively old twin Shiv mandir in the Mandirbati area. The condition of the temples is not so good as they have not undergone any restoration work. Here also the temples are situated on a raised platform. Moreover when I visited them, I found none nearby to enquire about them. But from whatever information I gathered from the locals about this twin temples is that they are much older than the earlier three Shiva temples. But that is difficult to say as I do not find any plaque; may be it existed at a time but now completely destroyed or the temples are simply devoid of any plaque.
Uttarpara, being the fourth station can be reached either from Howrah or from Sealdah. If you want to choose Sealdah; then take Sealdah Dankuni local train and get down at Bally Ghat station. Come downstairs and take Grand Trunk Road. From here you go in for an auto or toto or simply walk for about ten minutes crossing the Bally Khal (canal) which creates a natural boundary between Howrah and Hooghly districts and you will reach the temple complex. The nearest landmark is the Uttarpara police station. Take the opposite lane of the police station and you will see the temple complex on your left. But make sure either you visit the temples in the morning or in the evening after 5:00 pm.
Hooghly Jelar Purakriti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee.
Date of posting: 12th February, 2019.
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