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Gurap: Nandadulal Temple
The town of Gurap is about 70 km north of Kolkata in Hugli district. It is also a train station on the mainline train from Howrah to Bardhaman. The massive at-chala Nandadulal temple stands within a large temple complex situated a short walk from the train station. It was built in 1751 by Ramdeb Nag. The Nag zamindari family were well-established and wealthy patrons as evidenced by the several temples they built in Gurap. A more famous scion of this family is Keshab Chandra Nag, whose Bengali mathematics books were compulsory reading for many generations of students. The Nandadulal temple is a large at-chala temple with triple-arched entrance porch, and fully decorated facade. The style and quality of ornamentation is typical of 18th century temples.


Left Arch Panel
Two lotus roundels at the centre of the arch panel are surrounded by swirls of finely-cut leaves. Monkeys climb up the borders of the panel. Intricate vegetal decoration of this kind is a hallmark of 18th century terracotta temples of this region. Framing the arch panel is a series of single wall panels containing figures of yogis, each within a border of rosettes.


Centre Arch Panel
A stone panel containing a dedicatory inscription (perhaps taken from the cornice) has been crudely inserted at the top of this arch panel.


Base Panels: Janma Lila
The base panels on this temple are mostly damaged or missing. These panels at the leftmost section of the base show scenes from Krishna's Janmalila. Krishna appears as a four-armed diety to the seated Devaki and Vasudeva. Vasudeva then carries the child out of the prison and across the Yamuna. The scene below shows a zamindar reclining on a palanquin with carriers and attendants below. The modeling and quality of the sculpture is very fine. The complete, undamaged set of base panels must have been remarkable.


Base Panels: Kamsa Lila
These rightmost base panels show Krishna and Balarama's progress to Kamsa's palace. They meet the hunchback Kubja, then meet and kill Kamsa's elephant Kuvalyapida before encountering and dispatching his wrestlers. In the final panel they advance on Kamsa and pull him down from his throne. Scenes below include lascivious entertainment, and then a hunt or a fight on horseback. The modeling on all panels is exquisite.


Column Panels: Snake and Birds
The panels on the porch columns have unusual and beautiful depictions of birds and animals. Here birds feed on lotus blossoms in some panels, while in one a snake entwines and devours a bird.


Column Panels: Owl and Deer
An owl appears amongst the flowers in one panel and in another a deer raises and lowers its head.


Corner Panels: Mrityulata
On one edge of the facade is a faded ascending series of horse riders, elephant riders, and demons each mounting or devouring the one below it.


Mrityulata Fragment
A section of a mrityulata: a horse devours a hapless animal. The oversized rider seems to arch over his mount.


Wall Panels
A double series of wall panels flanks the entrance and curves below the cornice. Each panel contains a figure of a yogi, deity, or a woman. Here a woman is removing a thorn from her foot. The figures are inside arched frames and bordered by flowers and rosettes.


Rasmancha
This rasmancha of the Nandadulal temple is raised on a very high platform. It has a ridged rekha tower and terracotta decorated facades.


Rasmancha Arch Panel
The arch panels have lotus roundels framed by leafy swirls. A series of miniature Siva shrines lines the arch.


Dolmancha
The Dolmancha is within the Nandadulal complex. It also has a ridged rekha tower and slight terracotta on the entrance arch panel.


Siva Temple
A short distance from the Nandadulal complex, two small pancha-ratna Siva temples are located by the side of the road, directly opposite a path that leads to the Nag family residences. The facade is terracotta decorated, mainly with vegetal motifs. These temples too were built by the Nags but the quality of the architecture and sculpture point to a 19th century construction.


Wall Panels
A double row of wall panels frames the entrance and arches below the cornice. It has images of deities and of yogis engaged in various activities.



Photos and Text © Amit Guha