Shiva temples of Ramrajatala

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By DALIA MUKHERJEE
  • Published 15.03.13
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Chowdhurypara in Ramrajatala is a fast-changing urban locality. Most of the old mansions in this area are being replaced by new high-rises. Only those who can hold on to their heritage are fighting to survive.

Chowdhurypara’s heritage starts with the Chowdhury zamindars of Ramrajatala. Starting from Ayodhya Ram Chowdhury, their zamindari began from Nawab Alivardi Khan’s reign in 1740. Ayodhya Ram Chowdhury and his family had helped the Nawab to fight bargis on the Saraswati River. As a reward, Alivardi Khan gifted him the zamindari of Ramrajatala and its adjoining areas. Later, other families, Lahiri, Moitra and Bhattacharya, settled here. Daughters of the zamindars were married into these families and were given property here. After many years of settlement, a number of Shiva temples came up within close proximity of the zamindar mansion. Four out of six atchala temples, most of them in dilapidated condition, are located in this area. These date back to more than 200 years. “Many of the temples were built by members of the zamindar family at different times. The oldest one would be more than 200 years old. One or two were built by other families who settled here. But no one knows who built which one,” said Ashoke Chowdhury, a senior resident of the area. There are many stories associated with the temples. “As children, we saw a Kashmiri Brahmin monk who would come every year to clean and repair one of the temples. He would come and stay for a few months and would blow a horn when he came and we would run to see him,” said Chowdhury. The temples made good hiding places during the Naxalite Movement. The bamboo used to make the idol of Ram Thakur is also stored in one of the temples. “When Ram puja started in Ramrajatala, there was no place to store the bamboo that was cut on Saraswati puja, so it was kept here,” said Chowdhury. Of the four that exist, three temples have Shivalingas while one has become a Kali temple. Shivratri and Nil Puja are commonly observed here. “I have been going to offer puja on Shivratri every year for more than 50 years now. I usually go to the one opposite the old zamindar house. Earlier, however, a large number of women would visit the temple. Nil puja is also observed here and women come from early morning to light diyas and pour water on the Shivalingas,” said Sulata Chowdhury, Ashoke’s wife.