Exquisite Octagonal Terracotta Temple Panels of Ilambazar

In our recent trip to Shantiniketan, we stayed outside the university campus. The place was on Bolpur – Illambazar connecting road. As there was nothing new to explore in Bolpur, we decided to explore Ilambazar which is quite well-known for its exquisite terracotta temples dating back to 18th and 19th century.

Terracotta art dates back to Indus civilization and it is quite intriguing to see terracotta works in Bengal. One can never really trace back how the art, techniques and skills reached the shores of Bengal, but these temples and their panels are the evidence that the art form not only traveled here, but also thrived here. The extensive documentation of these temples have been carried out by artist Mukul Dey and English academic David J McCutchion in mid twentieth century.

One of the temples that stands out from the rest is the Octagonal shaped – Gaurango Temple. All eight sides of the temples have fantastic panels/tiles. Though they depict distinct known tales of Indian mythology, their story-telling styles with floral, animal and geometric motifs are quite unique. The artists who created these were master story-tellers!

Here are the few panels:

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