The Maluti temples are a set of 72 terracotta temples (out of a total of 108) located in the Maluti hamlet near Shikaripara in the Dumka district on the eastern portion of the Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand, India. These temples were constructed during the 17th and 19th centuries, according to the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD).
The Baj Basanta dynasty’s kings, influenced by goddess Mowlakshi, their family deity, erected these temples in Maluti, their capital. Apart from the patron deity Mowlakshi and others like Shiva, Durga, Kali, and Vishnu, many of the temples are venerated with other denominations of gods and goddesses. The Global Heritage Fund (GHF) has recommended a conservation initiative in Maluti village that will promote tourism. This site has been designated among the world’s 12 most protected cultural heritage sites by the GHF.
History of Maluti Temple
The Muslim ruler Alauddin Husain Shah of Gaura (1495–1525) gave the kingdom of Maluti, then known as “Nankar Raj” (meaning: tax-free kingdom), to a Brahmin named Basanta for saving and returning his hawk (Baj) directly linked to the history of these temples.
As a result, the suffix Raja was added to Basanta’s name, and he was dubbed Raja Baj Basanta. Because Basanta was a devout Hindu, he preferred to construct temples rather than palaces. His family was divided into four clans after that, and they continued to build temples in clusters in Maluti, their capital, prompted by goddess Mowlakshi, their family deity. Mallahati, the Malla Kings of Bankura, is considered to be the source of the name Maluti.
The temples were built during the 17th and 19th centuries, according to the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD). The Maluti temples remained unknown to the rest of the world until 1979, when A.K.Sinha, Director of Archaeology for the Government of Bihar, made them public for the first time.
There are 72 Maluti terracotta temples that were built in 4 groups in Maluti near the Jharkhand-West Bengal border. The Chila river runs through the area before merging with the Dwarka river near Tarapith.
The nearest railway station to the temple complex is Rampurhat in Birbhum, West Bengal. Calcutta is the starting point for trains. Bus services are available from both Rampurhat and Dumka. Maluti is 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Dumka, the district seat, while Rampurhat is 16 kilometers (11 miles) from Maluti (9.9 mi).
Initially, the community had 108 temples built within a 350-meter (1,150-foot) radius, all dedicated to Lord Shiva. Only 72 of the 108 temples remain, and they are in a semi-dilapidated state; the remaining 36 temples have been lost. Apart from the sacred deity Mauliksha and others such as Shiva, Durga, Kali, and Vishnu, many of the temples are deified with other denominations of gods and goddesses.
There are eight temples devoted to Goddess Kali in addition to the Shiva temples. The trident of a saint known as Bamakhyapa has been deified in a temple dedicated to him. Manasa Devi is another significant temple. Goddess Mauliskha is the Baj Basanta dynasty’s family deity, and devotees flock to the Mauliskha temple throughout the year. The goddess is worshipped facing west and is supposed to be the elder sister of the deity Tara.
The temples, which were built in many styles and were popular throughout Bengal at the time, are divided into five groups, none of which are in the architectural styles of the Nagara, Vesara, or Dravida. These temples were built according to the Cara-cala design, which consists of a square chamber “surmounted internally by a dome erected over pendentives” with corbelled cornices that create the illusion of a hut-shaped roof.
The temples are adorned with sculptures depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics, as well as the battle between Durga and Mahishasura. At several of the temples, scenes of village life are also etched. There are a few inscriptions on the temples that provide information on the construction of the temples as well as the socio-political history of the time period. These are written in early Bengali script, which is a blend of Sanskrit, Prakrit, and Bengali, and dated as the “shaka era” (Indian national calendar).
There are numerous ways to get to Maluti’s magnificent temple complex. Taking a train to Rampurhat is the most convenient way to get there. If you live in West Bengal, there are numerous local and passenger trains that will take you to Rampurhat. There are numerous trains that run to Rampurhat from major Indian towns.
You will have no trouble getting there because the distance between the Maluti temple complex and Rampurhat is only 13 kilometers. If you don’t want to travel by train, you can fly to Maluti instead. Kolkata is the closest airport to Maluti, and it will take you almost five and a half hours to get there. But don’t worry; cabs can be hired from the Kolkata international airport to drive you to Maluti.
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