Must Visit 4 Begunia Temples of Barakar, Asansol
The 4 Begunia Temples of Barakar are a must see if you are anywhere around Asansol.
All four Begunia Temples of Barakar are located in one complex, protected by a big boundary wall, no encroachment should be possible. So it makes the visit easy. Barakar is easily approachable by road and we arrived here from Siuri, a distance of approximately 100kms. I was intrigued by the name Begunia and one of the priests there clarified my doubt. The temples assume the shape of brinjal (eggplant) hence the name ‘Begunia’.
The temples are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 by ASI. Two of them are dedicated to Lord Shiva, one to Lord Ganesha and other to Goddess Durga. The one dedicated to Goddess Durga is the oldest. All the 4 temples have impressive facade details.
Temples 1 and 2 are at the entrance to the complex were built in around 14th to 15 century. They are the most decorated ones. Both these temples are made of black and grey sandstones and are in good condition, with less signs of wearing off. The shikhara (pinnacles) are decorated with floral designs and mythological figures. These stone temples of Begunia are very different from the ones in Bishnupur and are not from the usual terracotta. They are of typical Bengal architecture, the Shikhar or Rekh Deul style. The inscription on the walls credits a king named Harishchandra for its construction. It was apparently completed in 1462 and dedicated to Harishchandra’s queen Haripriya.
Two Nandis (Lord Shiva’s vehicle) of temples 3 and 4. The stone structures are totally worn out.
Siddheswari Temple Barakar
Temple No. 1, This is the Siddheswari temple; it houses a cell and a vestibule. A shivling, 55 inches in diameter, is worshiped here. The ‘lingam’ here is called the Siddheshwar Lingam. It was very dark inside. But it was evident that the temple is in regular use and prayers are offered. Of all the 4 temples, Siddheshwari Temple is the oldest and dates back to 8th to 9th century. Plenty of evidences found here in this complex prove that Barakar was once a Jain or Buddhist religious center. The earliest reference to the temples can be found in a book named History of Indian & Eastern Architecture by James Fergusson.
How to reach Begunia Temples of Barakar
Begunia is 17kms from Asansol. And it is at 220kms from Kolkata. Local transport ply between the cities. Alternately you can hire tourist vehicles too.