Jhikira and Rautara are two side-by-side villages in Amta II block of Howrah district. They are famous for temples – some have even intricate terracotta works on them. The oldest temple in Jhikira is Shyamsundar Temple of Madhyapara.
Built by the Mallick family this grand aatchala temple was built in (1613 Sakabda) which after converting to Gregorian calendar dated back to 1691, i.e., more than 330 years ago.
The dates in the foundation plaque is written in Sakabda.
This south-facing temple is placed on a high platform with a flight of stairs at the centre. Like most of the aatchala temples it follows the triple-arched entrance with porch. One thing to note here is that the temple is devoid of “archway panels.” The archways are decorated with floral motifs including full-bloom lotus. At the centre of the arch there is a idol of Lord Ganesh.
The presiding deity of the temple is Shyamsundar and Radhika along with a salagramsila called Damodar. Most of the deities excepting a few worshipped in the temples of this area houses a salagramsila. Isn’t it interesting?
The notable thing of this temple, according to me, is that a number of memorial slabs – all belonging to the same family arranged in a row at the entrance to the courtyard of this temple. These slabs belonged to the earlier generations of the family. Although memorial slabs of different shapes sand sizes are predominant here but the slabs here are pretty old; so much so that they have not yet received any fresh coat of paint.
As far as I remember they are nine in number. A number of coconut trees along with these memorial slabs in the backdrop of this temple added a new dimension to it. I noticed that at the top right corner of the temple just below the lower chala there is a thick growth of vegetation which should be removed at the earliest to protect this old heritage mandir. Apart from that general restoration work needs to be done quickly to preserve this grand temple.
The temple has a number of terracotta panels mainly at the lower base which depicts scenes of swans and boats and also hunting and processional scenes. The panels also portrays the advent of early Europeans with their ships.
How to reach there:
- The best and the most comfortable way to visit Jhikira is to go by car. Roughly 57 kilometres from Kolkata it can be reached in about ninety minutes.
- Take the bus going to Jhikira from Howrah bus stand. The time taken to reach there is roughly less than two-and-a-half hours.
- Alternately, you may take the local train to Amta. The time taken is about one hour forty five minutes. From Amta station you have to arrange suitable conveyance to reach Jhikira. The distance between Amta station and Jhikira is about sixteen kilometres.
- Howrah Jelar Purakirti by Tarapada Santra
- Notes on Some Temples in Howrah District by David McCutchion.
Date of posting: 4th July, 2021.