Sadbhuja Chaitanya at Bankura


BY: SUN STAFF - 11.10 2018

Sadbhuja Sri Krsna Chaitanya 
Ekteswar Temple, Bankura, West Bengal 

The town of Bankura, West Bengal is famous for an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva , who is worshiped here as Ekteswar (or Ekpadeswar). Situated about 3 km. from the town of Bankura on the bank of the river Darakeswar, this comparatively little known temple is unique in many respects.

Among the many unusual aspects of Sri Ekteswar mandir is the fact that the Shivalinga worshipped here is not upright, but rather lies horizontally, in the shape of a foot. The name Ekpadeswar refers to 'the Lord with one Foot'.

Terracotta panel on front of main temple 

The temple architecture is also atypical, being phira style, one of two classic Nagara, or North Indian temple plans using the shikhara/rekh pattern. The temple complex has structures in many styles, including the Bengali aat chala, char chala and dalan types.

The front portion of the main section of the temple was a later addition, built by the Malla kings of Vishnupur. The brickwork is ornamented with various terracotta figures of divine personalities. The most striking feature of the temple, however, is the original terracotta carvings, which include many images of the Lord in beautifully detailed terracotta sculptured panels done in traditional Bankura style.

Krsna with gopas and gopis

Perhaps the most striking of all the original Bankura terracottas is the image shown above, of Sadbhuja (six-armed) Sri Krsna Chaitanya. The beautiful image of Mahaprabhu is but one of numerous ancient carvings of both Chaitanya-lila and Sri Krsna's Vraja-lila, along with various other Visnu incarnations, pastimes and divine personalities. In the panel below, for example, we see depictions of Rama lila, Matsya, Krsna and gopis, Bakasura, Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and the mendicant Shiva.

There are numerous images of Lord Shiva found here, beginning with the Shivalingam in the sanctum sanctorum, which has a 7 foot deep well, with the foot-shaped lingam situated at the base. The well is connected to the nearby Darakeswar river, the water of which sometimes enters the temple, where it is used to bathe the lingam.

Nouka Jatra - Krsna's boat ride with gopis

According to local legend, this temple is said to have been established by the Pandavas, designed and constructed by the celestial architect, Viswakarma. It is also said that the lingam, the presiding deity known as Lord Ekteswar, was brought here by Sukracharya, the guru of the asuras.

The temple complex is surrounded by a high wall, and a beautiful entrance gate opens onto the numerous small mandirs and shrines on the property. There is a Maha-vishnu temple where a seven-hooded or sapta-naga. Nandi Bull has a shrine facing the main temple, and there are two Nandis here, one of very unusual design. There are also Bhairaba and Tara (Kali) temples here.

Sri Ekteswar Temple - Bankura, West Bengal