Home Sites Essays Temples Katha

Nandadulal Temple
The riverside town of Chandannagar is 35 km north of Kolkata. The town rose to prominence when the French East India company established a trading post here in the late 17th century. Several colonial mansions remain along the river-front and inside the city. The Nandadulal temple was built in 1740 by Indranarayan Roychoudhury, a local zamindar. It is unusual in having a massive ek-bangla (do-chala) triple-arched entrance porch attached to a much smaller square sanctuary. The temple is thoroughly renovated and any terracotta ornamentation, if it ever existed, has been removed.

Burosiva Temple
At the northern end of the town is the less well-known Burovisa temple, a late 18th century nava-ratna temple with rich terracotta decoration on two sides. The east facade has a single-arched entrance leading directly to the sanctum. Two arches flanking it are over false-doorways decorated with large roundels. The arch panels are adorned with roundels and vegetal decoration. A double row of wall panels frame the entrance. Double frieze of panels run along the base, wrapping around to the north side.

Arch Panels
The terracotta roundels on the central arch panel contain well-preserved rasmandala: Krishna plays the flute at the centre while gopis dance around him. These are on a background of floral and vegetal scrollwork. Miniature Siva temples are placed along the arch. The arch and wall panels on the north wall are very similar to the east wall, however, the central arch panel lacks the rasamandalas.

Base Panels
The base panels are in two tiers with Krishna stories above and social scenes below. The Krishna stories start with Janma Lila: sleeping guards, Vasudeva carrying the infant Krishna across the Yamuna and then Krishna with Yashoda in Gokul where he is being bathed by gopis. The next scenes show Krishna's childhood at Gokul: battling various demons including the whirlwind demon Trinavarta, Bakasura, the serpent Aghasura and the bull-demon Arishtasura. He is also shown milking a cow, stealing from the pot that where the gopis are churning butter, dancing while the gopis play music. In the social panels below are fine images of soldiers, a hunting scene, warriors on rearing horses. A well-preserved panel shows a palanquin being carried by four large bearers and three diminutive servants carrying the hookah, while the nobleman reclines on a pillow.

Base Panels
In the next section of base panels, the young Krishna is shown in Brindaban: with Balarama playing the bugle, then Radha and Krishna playing a single flute, then the scene where Radha wishes to be carried on Krishna's shoulders because she is tired, and finally Krishna with Radha standing next to a tree and a peacock, perhaps a reminder to the viewer of the Natvin Lila where Krishna disguised as a female acrobat amuses Radha by dancing like a peacock on the branches of a banyan tree. Below this are more hunting and fighting scenes and processions: men seated on an elephant fly flags, followed by men on a camel, playing horns. In the final section, Krishna and Balarama are in Mathura where they kill the evil washerman, bless Kubja, and proceed to Kamsa's court. Notice also, the panel of Kali flanked by two Europeans (in hats) who seem to be watching in amazement.

Wall and Corner Panels
The double column of wall panels mostly contain images of yogis, as do the triple corner panels. Panels are framed within borders of flowers and rosettes. The panels on the right wall and corner are slightly better preserved. Protruding at forty-five degrees from the edges of the facade is an ascending sequence of pairs of men and animals. Unfortunately, most of this mrityulata is damaged, only a portion at the top remains.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha