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Maluti cousin in Bokaro

Lone terracotta temple boasts familiar epic carvings

  • Published 21.03.16
The terracotta temple (left and right) discovered on Saturday at Amdiha village in Chandankyari block of Bokaro, 170km from Maluti in Dumka. Telegraph pictures

Ranchi, March 20: History repeats itself, they say. And, how remarkably so.

A chance discovery of a terracotta temple at a Bokaro village, 160km from the state capital, yesterday has led archaeologists to believe that the same family of architects who are famous for their intricate shrine work in Maluti built the embellished sister structures in different parts of Jharkhand over centuries.

Harendra Prasad Sinha, eminent archaeologist and retired deputy director (archaeology) of the state art and culture department, said minister Amar Kumar Bauri had assigned him a regular survey in Bokaro. "As I travelled from Chas to Chandankyari block yesterday, I noticed a temple peeping out of hedges at Amdiha village, 10km east of the block headquarters. When I went closer, I was amazed to see that it is a replica of the Maluti temples in Shikaripara block of Dumka," he told The Telegraph.

Sinha noted that Chandankyari and Shikaripara blocks were nearly 170km apart. "Yet the village temples had striking similarities - Bishnupur-style terracotta carvings with scenes from Ramayana along with floral designs on the walls, high arches and stone engravings in proto-Bangla script," he said.

From the incredible likeness, Sinha inferred that the same family of architects had constructed the Maluti temples over a period of 200 years, beginning 17th Century, as well as the terracotta shrine in Amdiha.

"There is also a possibility that the Bhakti Cult movement initiated by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the 16th Century in Nadia, Bengal, may have later swept over parts of tribal Jharkhand," the eminent archaeologist said, not ruling out the odds of similar findings in other parts of the state.

"However, our survey is only at a preliminary stage and a detailed excavation needs to be carried out before conclusions can be drawn," he maintained.

The only difference between the two sites, Sinha said, is that while 72 out of the original 108 Maluti temples remain at Shikaripara, the Amdiha one in Chandankyari is in ruins. "I will submit a preliminary report of my findings to the state minister of art and culture (Bauri) very soon. In the report, I will stress on the need for urgent conservation in Amdiha."

A veteran history-digger, Sinha has several such firsts to his credit. On January 24, he had discovered a large cluster of 300 megaliths or prehistoric tombstones at Yamuna Nagar, a residential colony off Ratu Road, 12km from the heart of capital Ranchi.

Megaliths have been found at a number of districts like Chatra, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Lohardaga and Khunti, besides Ranchi, in the past. But, this was the second largest find after some 7,000 stones were physically discovered at Chokahatu in Silli, 70km from the capital, in 2005.