Terracotta Temples of Ilambazar, West Bengal

Terracotta Temples are scattered in plenty in Ilambazar town of West Bengal. This post has pictures of two other terracotta temples from Ilambazar. During the 17th and 18th century when these terracotta temples were constructed, the tradition was landlords or rich businessmen who were doing well in life constructed such temples for the locals. After all they had to show their authority in the society then. As time passed the maintenance and care of these temples passed on to the next generations of the families. If the family continued to do well the temples were maintained well, else they crumbled like the one you saw in Hat Tala Mandir.


Terracotta Temples

Shiva Temple of Ilambazar

This temple is a dedicated to Lord Shiva. The family maintaining this seems to be well off, though I couldn’t meet the owners. The panels were clean, free of dust and cobwebs and the door had a proper lock. Only thing missing was the boundary. Other buildings have come up quite close. I am sure they don’t get any grant from government for the upkeep of the temples. I sincerely wish there is a government authorized body to take up the maintenance of all these scattered terracotta temples.

terracotta temples from Ilambazar 1
These are the closeup view of the panels. You can click on them to enlarge and see the details. You can get a good idea of the size of the figures too.
terracotta temples from Ilambazar 2
terracotta temples from Ilambazar 3


Lakshmi Temple of Ilambazar

The following three pictures are of Lakshmi temple. This too was shut for the day so couldn’t see the idols inside. On asking the locals they mentioned it being dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. The panels have a theme. These were means of education for locals about stories of Gods and Goddesses and other mythological stories. On close observation one can get a good idea about the customs and costumes of people living then.

terracotta temples from Ilambazar 4

From what I have read and understood about the making of these temples is: A group of craftsmen led by their master craftsman called Sutradhar take up the responsibility of construction. Their main role in society was educating locals through various media, like paintings on leaves called pattachitra, theatrical performances, various musical recitals like kirtans and bauls and these panels of terracotta on temple walls. Once the job is completed they moved on to their next destination. And as they moved on like this their art was left behind but the talent got lost.

terracotta temples from Ilambazar 6


terracotta temples from Ilambazar 7



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