Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar, West Bengal
Tallest of all old laterite stone temples, Gokulchand Temple looked majestic that day against the bright blue sky. I visited the temple in April 2013. A fortified wall in reasonably good condition goes around the temple. Gokulchand Temple complex measures 23,500sq.ft. Entrance too has good safety measures with an impressive gate. A small stone Tulsimancha (a special structure for praying Tulsi plant) can be seen in the picture. This is well decorated and worshiped everyday.
Gokulchand Temple Structure
It is a 5 pinnacled temple, 4 of them visible in the picture. The central pinnacle is octagonal in shape. There are 3 arched entrances in all 4 sides of the temple. The walls have sculpted forms of 10 avtaars of Lord Vishnu. So many of the forms have worn off sadly. A stone staircase leads to the roof of the temple. Most impressive sculpted forms are in the south wall of the temple.
Just opposite the temple is 59 feet wide Natmandap. The roof of this structure is missing; the structure looks deserted and uncared. Probably the flat stage in front was used for dance performances in the earlier days.
The importance of the temple was first cited by Rakhaldas Bondopadhyay, of Mohenjodaro fame in 1923. But most unfortunately, only in 1996 the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) took over the temple and declared it a Monument of National Importance. The temple was looted and defaced badly in the intervening years. The insensitive people around used the stone slabs there for constructing roads and buildings. The scattered stone slabs there are a sad sight to see.
How to reach Gokulchand Temple
From Kolkata the shortest route is via Ahilyabai Holkar Road. This distance of 134kms can be done in 4hours. The route has tolls. The longer circuitous road through NH17 measures 172kms. Alternately you can take a bus or train to Bishnupur and then hire a taxi from there to Gokulchand Temple. Time to cover this distance is 40minutes approx.
Gokulchand Temple is an ideal day tour destination from Kolkata. ASI (Archeological Society of India) maintains this temple and its surroundings. It is worth spending 3 to 4 hours in the complex studying the details of sculptures there.
(Additionally this place is also spelled as Gakulchand, Gukulchand, but the correct spelling is Gokulchand Temple in Gokulnagar.)