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The village of Amadpur is a few kilometres north of the town of Memari in east Bardhaman. Memari can be reached by rail or road as it is on the Durgapur expressway and on the suburban train line from Kolkata. Several terracotta temples were built in Amadpur in the 18th and 19th centuries by local merchants and land-owners. The Chowdhury family built the Radha Madhav temple in 1739. This beautiful triple-arched at-chala temple is today obscured by a modern mandapa and its rich terracotta has been painted over. Near this temple is a complex of four small temples (three atchala and one octagonal) and an elevated ras-mancha. All these temples have terracotta facades with vegetal decoration.

Madan Gopal Temple
A short distance from the Chowdhury family temples is the neglected but elegant at-chala Madan Gopal Temple. This temple was built by the Banerjee Family in 1730. It has a triple arched entrance porch and its terracotta facade has rich and very artistic vegetal and figural decoration. Although broken in many parts, the vegetal scrollwork ornamentation on the entrance arch panels is of an exquisite quality. The 18th century terracotta temples of Bardhaman are particularly noteworthy for their vegetal ornamentation. Lotus roundels are at the centre of the arch panels surrounded by swirls, flowers and buds. Monkeys climb up the edges of the panel.

Left Base Panels
Krishna's janma lila scenes are quite clear here, starting on the left with Devaki and Vasudev's vision, the sleeping guards, then the exchange of babies, and finally Krishna being bathed by the gopis. The scenes below show men carrying a palanquin, a groom with his horse, and men riding horses while blowing horns.

Right Base Panels
In the final scenes of the Krishnalila here, Krishna and Balaram approach Mathura, killing Keshin the horse-demon and the evil washerman on the way, and eventually killing Kamsa's elephant before dispatching the evil tyrant himself. The panels below this are some of the most beautiful base panels anywhere. Two adjacent river boats heave with Europeans on the deck. Europeans ride elephants and hunt tigers, and finally men riding horses hunt deer.

Siva Temple
Another at-chala Siva temple stands on a raised plinth on the open ground next to the home of the Nath Family. This temple, built in the late 18th century, also has a triple-arched entrance porch and a rich terracotta facade. The arch finials are mounted by an elaborate series of ghanta, kalasa, and chakra motifs. Pairs of raised lotus roundels are placed on a background of swirls and arabesques. Above this a double row of well-preserved figural wall panels arches below the cornice. A double row of wall panels continues along the sides of the entrance. These mainly show Saiva sadhus and maidens and are framed by raised bands of rosettes. The triple sets of vertical corner panels, also well-preserved, has images of Krishna, sadhus, maidens, and kinnaras.

Siva Temple
On a raised plinth beside the main road of Amadpur village is this small but elegant at-chala temple built by the Nandi Family in 1792. The temple has a single-arched entrance and a rich terracotta facade but is in a state of disrepair. Where the terracotta panels are intact, the artistic quality of the decoration is very high as can be seen in the borders of the figural wall panels, and the makara head of the band above the entrance arch.

Base Panels
The remaining sections of the base panels are also exquisite. The janma lila scenes above show Devaki and Vasudeva praying to Krishna, the sleeping guards, and Vasudeva carrying the infant Krishna across the Yamuna. Below is a remarkable scene of Devi on her lion mount attacking asuras riding horses. On the right base panels, Krishna and Balarama are driven to Mathura in a chariot. The despondent gopis faint, wail, and throw themselves below the wheels of the chariot. Below this is a faded depiction of a large pleasure boat.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha