Hathtola Mahaprabhu Temple, Ilambazar, Birbhum

Ilambazar in Birbhum houses a number of temples of which Hathtola Mahaprabhu Temple deserves special mention. The temple is situated a little less than 20 kilometres from Bolpur. It is a brick-built temple with terracotta decoration on all sides.

Gour Netai

This unique temple belongs to the category of “small octagonal ridged rekha” type. It is placed on a slightly raised platform within an enclosure . The temple is a state protected monument but I do not find any signboard. The temple is believed to have built in circa 18th century. It is connected with a nat-mandir. It seems that that the nat-mandir might be a later addition. The temple can be accessed through an entrance in front of the nat-mandir. The Mahaprabhu Temple houses the deities of Gour Netai and it is assumed that daily worship takes place here.

Hathtola Mahaprabhu Temple, Ilambazar

The temple is situated in a corner of the market. I visited it on may way back from the famous fair at Joydev Kenduli on the day of Posh Sankranti. It was almost half-past two in the afternoon and I found the place almost empty. I took a number of snaps of the different sides of the temple. On a closer look I found that the lower panels are not in good shape compared to the upper portion. The roof is made of tin. Another thing which drew my attention are the windows which might have been made later on as because those portions got damaged.

It seems to me that the wired fencing is done to protect this temple from any further deterioration.

The temple is decorated with exquisite terracotta works. The false doors on the sides of the temple are richly decorated but their beauty gets detoriated as windows are carved out. But I found a complete door and I was simply spell bound at its beauty and exquisite craftsmanship. The terracotta panels are more or less intact. I found mrityulata in between the walls. One such (picture right) has a sequence of tigers, dogs, men, horses, lions, men and elephants. Note one thing in this combination that men is repeated twice one in between dogs and horses and another in between lions and elephants. Isn’t it unique.

The terracotta panel (left) shows Goddess Durga with Kartick, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati with a chalchitra on the background. Another unique thing is the lion which looks like a horse. Just below the image of Devi Durga there is a flower possibly a full bloom lotus with other figures on both sides. The right picture shows Krishna’s Brahmomohan lila with other models of men and women.

The left picture shows Rasmandal, which is a quite common in terracotta temples of Bengal. The right picture has a number of clay figures of which the most interesting is Goddess Durga with Ganesh in her lap. Some of the figures are quite prominent and also distinct. There are a few more panels which I have missed out.

How to go there:

It is better to take the morning train from Howrah or Sealdah station and reach Bolpur Shantiniketan. From there take either an auto rickshaw or a toto and reach Jambuni bus stand. Take the bus and get down at Ilambazar bus stand. A ten minute walk will land you to the temple or you may take a toto to reach there. Alternately, you can hire a car from Bolpur station and reach the temple. In that case one can also visit the adjoining temples of the area. It can be single day trip provided if it well planned.


  1. Birbhum Jelar Purakirti – Debkumar Chakraborty
  2. Late Mediaeval Temples of Bengal – David J. McCutchion

Special thanks to Sri Amitabha Gupta

Date of posting: 26th May, 2023.

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I am an amateur photographer. I like to visit places to see the unseen and know the unknown and capture the memory in my camera.

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