The name ‘Jatar Deul’ itself invoked a keen interest in us. And on hearing about it, we were much more inclined to visit the place. A towering brick temple in the midst of nowhere in rural South Bengal – this piece of information was enough to pique our interest! So when opportunity came to visit Jatar Deul, we just had to grab it.
So on 16th April (also the second day of Baisakh, the first month of Bengali calendar) we accompanied Uttara Di, Rangan da and Debika to a visit to Jatar Deul. The date of our journey was also significant; I will come to it later.
Our journey commenced from Sealdah station. We boarded a crowded train to Lakshmikantapur and got down at Mathurapur Road station. Almost after four hours of journey by train, auto and motor van, we were finally at Kankandighi and from there we went towards Jatar Deul. The village is known as Jata.
We could see the towering structure of Jatar Deul from a distance while riding the motor van. “What is such a structure doing in this place?” this was the first question that came to my mind when I saw the Deul structure. A tall tower that looked more of a watchtower than a temple standing amidst vast stretches of farm. I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it.
Jatar Deul does not follow the traditional structure of Bengal temples. The architectural style is more like that of Oriya style of towering spires. The temple was abandoned for a long time. But the locals believe that the temple is the abode of ‘Jatadhari’ Shiva, hence the name “Jatar Deul”.
The clouded history of Jatar Deul:
Jatar Deul was discovered way back in the middle of nineteenth century when land surveyors found this impressive towering brick structure amidst the Sunderbans. The structure was itself adorned with thick vegetation. So a very common question arose that who made this construction in the middle of one of the densest forest of the world. Naturally, it was wondered whether there existed any flourishing civilization in this part of Bengal. Though historians have not been able to pinpoint the existence of this temple like structure, but ,many of them have given their views.
Satishchandra Mitra has described the temple as a watch tower of Pratapaditya in his book Jassore–Khulnar Itiash. It was also described as Mughal period architecture by Kashinath Dikshit, but later on he described it as an Oriya architecture. So there are mixed views regarding the origin of the temple, and it definitely increases the aura of mystery around Jatar Deul.
Present day Jatar Deul:
Presently Jatar Deul is maintained by the ASI. There has been more excavations that revealed ‘jagmohana’ and ‘garbha-griha’ (inner sanctorum) in the style of Oriya temples. At present the locals consider the temple as the temple of Lord Shiva although there are a lot of pictures and idols of various Gods and Goddesses inside the main chamber of the temple.
Jatar Deul and Horse Race:
Every year on the 2nd day of Baisakh (usually in mid April) a horse race takes place at here. The horse race starts from the temple and after following a standard route end at the temple. A fair is also held during this time. The villagers from around come and visit the place for watching the horse race. Other recreational activities like singing, dancing and jatra (rural plays) are also held during this time. We visited on 16th April this year to view the horse race. It was an amazing experience to see the race. I would write about the horse race in my next post.
How to reach Jatar Deul:
Take a train towards Lakshmikantapur from Sealdah (South) and get down at Mathurapur Road.
From Mathurapur Road, take an auto to Raidighi.
From Raidighi, take a motor van to Kankandighi. The journey will take around 3 hours if you do not take a stop in between. It took us four hours as we had stopped for lunch at Raidighi. You could also do the same.
There are so much unexplained heritage and history all around Bengal. Jatar Deul was an exceptional visit and it became all the more exciting because of such a great company.
Please let me know your inputs about “Jatar Deul” and if you are aware of anything as interesting as this, please share it with us.