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Laoda: Banka Raya Temple
Laoda is located about a kilometre north of Daspur town in West Medinipur. The navaratna Bankaraya temple here was built by the Baliol family in 1801. It is built on a low plinth and has a triple-arched entrance porch. The upper shrine also has a triple-arched entrance and is flanked and surmounted by smooth turrets with curved cornices.

Arch Panels
The arch panels are divided into registers with Ramayana scenes above the central arch (the scene at the top showing Rama-Sita enthroned is best preserved), Krishnalila scenes above the right arch (including Naukalila and Krishna stealing butter), and unusually, erotic scenes above the left arch. Below the cornice is a double-frieze of figures mostly of warriors but the pilasters separating them have large terracotta figures of musicians. A single column of figure panels runs along the sides, flanked by full-height pilasters. These figures are very well modeled, almost in the round, and show sadhus engaged in various activities, dasavatars, and some erotic scenes. The heavy, octagonal columns have slight terracotta ornamentation on their capitals. The wooden sanctum door is carved with dasavatara panels, while the arch panel above the sanctum entrance has elaborate stucco ornamentation.

Wall Panel
Unfortunately the temple is not well-maintained and needs conservation. It is quite damaged and at significant risk of dilapidation. The upper storeys are overgrown with plants and moss, obscuring the panels and the finely modeled musician figures below the cornice. The dasavatara panels on the wooden sanctum door are quite worn and nearly unidentifiable. The stucco decoration above the sanctum entrance arch is also damaged. The main entrance arches and arch panels are in a fair state of preservation but many scenes are broken or missing. Some of the figure panels along the sides are well-preserved but others are crumbling. The temple is placed on a plinth which is broken and probably sinking.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha