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Hatbasantapur: Jayachandi Temple
Hatbasantapur is a small village about 6 km south of Arambagh town. The local China family built several temples here, the largest and best preserved of which is the atchala Jayachandi temple built in 1734. The temple is situated within the grounds of the dilapidated and overgrown mansion of the once-wealthy China family.


Central Arch Panel
The temple is a standard Hugli at-chala temple with a triple-arched entrance porch. The east facade is fully decorated with terracotta panels on the arches, columns, walls, and the double registers on the base panel. Consistent with its mid-18th century date, the ornamentation is of a very fine quality, especially the vegetal scrolls that fill the borders and spaces of all panels. Ramayana battle scenes are shown in three registers on the central arch panel with Rama and Ravana in their chariots on the centre registers. The other registers have humorously depicted images of vanaras fighting rakshasas. Above the finial is an unusual large image of a rakshasa.


Figures between arches
The arch panels are framed and separated by a series of panels containing images of yogis in various poses. These panels are framed by a raised band of rosettes.


Wall panels
The entrance frame itself is surrounded by a double row of figural panels, mostly of Krishna and other dieties. Each panel is surrounded by very ornate vegetal scrolls. These panels are in a fairly good state of preservation.


Column Panels
The column panels (and corner panels) on this temple are very damaged. The figural panels on the central pillars are all obscured. On this engaged pillar some images remain of Krishna and women with children.


Base Panels: Krishna as a child
The base panels have the full complement of Krishnalila panels. In this section, the child Krishna slays Putana, Trinavarta, and Sakatasura. The panels below show a large pot-bellied patron (perhaps a Zamindar) watching an elaborate nautch while women in his palace behind watch from windows.


Base Panels: Young Krishna
Krishna as a young adult slays Bakasura, and the python demon Aghasura. Next are several scenes from the Brahma Pravartan Lila, where Brahma tests Krishna and eventually submits to him. A large scene below this shows a zamindar watching acrobats. To the right is a procession of warriors on camels.


Base Panels: Mathura Gaman and Warships
The Krishnalila panels here are of Krishna with gopis on a boat (Nauka Bilaas), Krishna departing for Mathura (Mathura Gaman), and gopis bringing curds (Daan Lila). Below this between figures of warriors is an image of an elaborate warship.


Elephants on a hunt
Men mounted on elephants go on a hunt. They hold birds of prey, possibly hawks.


North Wall
The north wall of the temple has the subsidiary single-entrance to the sanctum. This wall also has terracotta decoration in the triple-arch panels arch, column and base panels. The ornamentation here is mainly vegetal scrollwork but of very high quality.


Right Arch Panel
The arch panels are filled with intricate scrolls with two lotus roundels in the centre. Miniature Siva temples are lined along the arch.


Horse, dog, and syce
Panels like this one on the front wall show signs of significant water damage. Unless this temple is restored and conserved with modern techniques, the base and arch panels are also likely to suffer degradation.


Jora Siva Temples
Located away from the family mansion, near the village market, is another complex of three temples, Jora atchala Siva temples and a pancharatna temple, also built by the China family. These three temples are abandoned, neglected and ruined.



Photos and Text © Amit Guha