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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Heritage | Kantaji Mandir

Update : 18 Nov 2016, 04:22 PM

History often tells us that race, religion and nationality all ebb away with the passing of time, as everything has its own way of diminishing in their glory and existence with time or natural causes.

But sometimes the passing of time adds importance to the old and ancient. One of our heritage sites, the Kantaji Temple in Dinajpur is certainly one of the most amazing historical architectures of the country, that is tremendously valuable and worthy of preservation.

Built during 1704-1752 AD by a Maharaja named Pran Nath, the beautiful temple is dedicated to Krishna and his loving wife Rukmini. The original construction was started by Pran Nath around 1704 AD and later it was completed during the reign of Magaraja Ramnath.

Its signature designs are visible in the magnificently laid edifice with ornate terracotta and the Persian muquarnas work in stucco inside the half-domes over the entrance arches and mihirab niches. The bulbous outline of the domes with constructed necks, domes on octagonal drums with lotus and kalasa finials as the crowning elements, the round pendentives to make up the phase of transition for the domes and the multi-faced corner towers rising high above the horizontal medieval architecture fortifications make it one of the most aesthetically marvelous examples of 18th century architecture.

Base-of-one-of-the-west-pillars-of-the-Kantaji-Temple-at-Kantanagar-taken-by-John-Henry-Ravenshaw-around-1871-British-Libraryterra-cotta-kantajitemple-dinajpur-1024x682

The divinity of the temple is associated with the tales of Mahabharata and Ramayana, the exploits of Krishna and his spirituality, and a series of extremely fascinating contemporary social scenes depicting the favorite leisure time of the aristocrat class.

There are also depictions of animated hunting scenes of wild games, royal processions of elephants, horses, camels, and dainty ox-carts of the nobility with their retainers in Mughal dress and arms.

The richly caparisoned majestic elephants and splendid stallions, their chariot and harness are vividly delineated. There are also curving of the zamindars who are seen squatting in their gilded palanquins puffing from luxurious hukkas with long sinuous pipes.

Mythological scenes are also depicted, such as the nativity of Krishna, the demon King Kangsa, successive attempts to kill the infant Krishna; Krishna's killing of the Putana ogress and the Bakasura or crane-demon. The detailing of the Hindu scripture in its clay and crafted forms are explicitly striking.

The temple consists of deities which depict the astonishing sense of reality, the endless panels of terracotta art embellishing and ornamenting the wall surface of the Kantaji Mandir, giving it a life and vitality of their own and are deeply imbued with the spirit nourished for thousand years on the silt-laden soil of Bangladesh.

Around 1897 the navratna or nine spired (in which the temple was built in) was destroyed. This iconic temple was later renovated and was financed by the Asian Development Bank under the World Heritage of South Asian Tourist Infrastructure Development Project. This renovation was supervised by the Archeology Department in 2015.

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