Twenty-five pinnacled or panchavimshati-ratna temple is a classification of the ratna type of temple architecture. In West Bengal there are only five such temples – three in Kalna (Purba Barddhaman), one each in Sukharia (Hooghly) and Sonamukhi (Bankura).
Ananda-Bhairavi Temple in Sukharia, Hooghly is a three-storied twenty-five pinnacled temple rich in terracotta on its two facades. Built in 1813 by Bireswar Mustafi, after Lalji Temple (1739); Krishnachandra Temple (1751) and Gopalbari Temple (1766) – all three panchavimshati-ratna temples in Kalna (Burdwan, now Purba Barddhaman) and before Sridhara Temple (1845) in Sonamukhi, Bankura, this south facing temple houses Maa Anandamoyee on a wooden singhasana inside the sanctum.
As far as the ratna type of temple architecture is concerned we are much familiar with ekratna, pancharatna and nabaratna types though trayodasha-ratna (thirteen pinnacled), saptadasha-ratna (seventeen pinnacled), ekavimshati-ratna (twenty-one pinnacled) and panchavimshati-ratna temples exist.
Panchavimshati-ratna temple is generally a three-storied structure though Sridhar Temple in Sonamukhi is double-storied one. Coming to Ananda-Bhairavi Temple, the first storey has twelve pinnacles – three on each side (3*4); second storey has eight pinnacles – two on each side (2*4) and the third storey has one pinnacle on each side (1*4) and the central pinnacle. All the turrets are of ridged rekha type.
This massive structure is adorned with terracotta figures – of other gods and goddesses, birds and floral motifs. Like other temples this mandir has a triple-arched entrance and you will notice terracotta works on upper wall of the entrance.
The temple compound also houses dwadash (twelve) temples out of which ten are of standard aatchala (eight-roofed) while two are of of pancharatna type. One of the five pinnacled temples houses Lord Ganesh. The rest are dedicated to Lord Shiva. All the temples are on a raised platform and there is a flight of stairs in the middle.
I was pretty lucky to get a glimpse of Maa Anandamoyee in the morning as the temple closed soon after that. I even got the opportunity to talk to the priest. As the day of my visit this year was mid-March it was pretty sunny, I could take a number of snaps of this beautiful temple with the blue sky in the background. This temple could be a place of visit on any weekend; but it would be better to visit it from October to February or early March as the weather, at that time was predominantly cool.
How to go there:
The best way to reach there is to board Howrah-Katwa local and get down at Somra Bazar station. From the station take any auto or toto and reach the temple complex.
1. Late Mediaeval Temples of Bengal by David J. McCutchion
2. Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharya.
Date of posting: 12th June, 2022.