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12th century temple structures in Bangladesh on verge of extinction

The 12th century Shiva mandirs, ancient temple structures,  built during the Sen era of 1156-1206 AD in Bholahat upazila of Chapainawabganj, stands on the verge of extinction.

12th century temple structures in Bangladesh on verge of extinction
The 12th century Shiva Temple in Bholahat of Chapainawabganj 
lies uncared for years [Credit: Dhaka Tribune]
Locals alleged that the temple was gradually falling apart down due to negligence by  authorities.

The authorities have never taken any steps to preserve this ancient structure that has huge archaeological and historical value.

The temple is 19ft 10 inches in height, 19ft in length and has a width of 13ft. It has outer walls of brick structure covered with terracotta artworks depicting mythological tales and religious events.

Today it almost resembles a thatch hut, with a tree growing through it. Part of its roof has collapsed.

Cow dung cakes cover the lower half of the temple’s walls on the outside.

Deep cracks have developed on the walls of the 12th century structure while weeds have covered most of its body. Most of the terracotta tiles that once decorated the body of the temple have eroded. Others have been lost over the years.

Journalist SI Sharif said: “A lot of weeds have grown inside and outside of the temple. The idols of several deities damaged. No body has come until to save it.”

Thieves have stolen bricks, terracotta tiles and other valuable things from the temple situated only 200 yards away from Bholahat police station.

Some locals blame the local authorities for never having taken any steps to preserve this ancient structure.

Others make good use of the temple’s abandoned stage.

Local use the Shiva temples walls to dry these cakes for fuel. Some others have encroached the land on which the temple stands.

They have built mud huts on the land of the archaeological site. One attaching house shares the temple wall, clearing putting pressure on the structure of the 12th century building.

Dr Majharul Islam Toru, a local historian and associate professor at the Chapainawabganj Govt. College, affirms that the temple was built during the Sen era of 1156-1206 AD.

Devotees of Shiva built the temple to worship him.

He claims that this Shiva Temple of Bholahat is one of the most beautiful Hindu temples in the northern part of the country.

Local miscreants are taking advantage of the lack of vigilance by the local police or upazila administration over this archaeological site, he added.

Some locals complain that the aesthetic value of the temple, not to mention its religious significance, has been seriously damaged by the use of its walls to dry cow dung cakes.

They urge the government to take immediate steps for the preservation of the 12th century temple.

Badrul Alam, field officer of the Archaeology Department of Rajshahi Division, said the preservation for the ancient Shiva Temple was not listed as a job for the department.

However if the locals raise a strong demand for its preservation, the archaeology department may be able to take steps to consider their demand, he mentoned.

Dr Mazharul Islam, professor Chapainawbganj Govt College, said: “The temple should be saved from ruination for giving information to the generation.”

Author: Anwar Hossain | Source: Dhaka Tribune [February 21, 2016]

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