Wednesday, 13 April 2016

HERITAGE AT EXTREME RISK (POLKERI)


There is an old shrine named Sri Sri Baba Bhaironathji Dham in the village Polkeri, Block- Chankiyari, District-Bokaro, Jharkhand. Recently the district administration had arranged one yearly festival on 26.03.15 to 28.03.15 centering this old temple. This festival was inaugurated by Chief Minister of Jharkhand on 26.03.15.

The structure of the temple enclave are recent. One temple is for Bhairobaba, another is form Durgama. Barring that , there are some small temples with other Hindu Idols.


The temple premises has one Kund, cool water source by the blessing of nature, flowing throughout the year and much above the water level of the river Ijri flowing beside the temple. Some fishes are also in the Kund. As per the prevailing folk-lore, fishes are forbidden to be touched. It is believed the kund water can heel many diseases both for adults and especially for the infants. The place of worship is treated as a medication centre for the very long period in the nearby locality. The surrounding of the temple becomes a picnic spot in winter for nearby population.


The folk-lore indicates Arjuna, during his exile, in search of drinking water, created this everlasting water source with his arrow. This myth connects with village with Mahabharata.
The striking fact about this holy place is some of the Idols of Bhairosthan. A few of the Idols of this place indicate a much earlier time than the surrounding structures. The Bhiro Baba’s heavenly Idol is curved out from a black stone, which indicates the enrich mind of an artist who had equally indicate skill to represents his imagination into reality.


Local folk-lore also suggest the Idol brought from outside. The story remains like thus, many generations back one Brahmin of the village used bathe on the black rock in a jhora (water source) outside the village. He had received instruction of Bhirobaba (in his dream), turned the rock and brought the Idol in the village. While brining the rock all bullock-carts of their village got damaged due to shear weight of Bhairo Baba and ultimately the Brahmin, with the blessing of Baba was able to brought Baba on his head. At that time there was a huge tree in place of today’s temple, Baba was placed there. Today that holy tree is no more but the trees of the surrounding area are a bit typically in comparison to the other prevailing trees of nearby area. Only botanist can scientifically explain the typically of the surrounding trees.



Telkupi, a village of the modern West Bengal (crow file distance from Polkeri to Telkupi is around 20km) on the bank of Damodor  was  known as Bahiravsthan from time immortal. Telkupi’s Archaeological Cluster of temples (20 Nos) was first photographed by J.D.Beglar of Archaeological Survey of India in 1872-73. Next photographic evidences of the decadent cluster were recorded in 1903 by Bloch of the Bengal Archaeological Survey, afterwards photographic records of the archive of Archaeological Survey of India dates back to 1929.


In independent India, these ancient structures were subjected to the extrme negligence of the administration. From the INTAC report in 2006-07 under heading Heritage at Risk by Bulu Imam, we quote “During the mid-1950s the fate of the twenty odd temples at a place ancestrally known as Bhairavstan was sealed during the submergence of a large area along the banks of river Damodar on the border of Jharkhand and Bengal through the construction of Punchet Dam across the river”.- It was implementation of DVC Project- a dream of newly independent  democracy.



 The same report report suggests “More than 20 temples from the 8th to 12th centures (Pala period) were submerged between 1956 and 1962 by the waters of Damodar River. In the meantime, the remains of these ruined temples are becoming visible again in the silted-up reservoir”. The last reference of the fates of some Idols worshiped in those temples was recorded by Debala Mitra (ASI) in 1959-60. Debala Mitra was unsuccessful to bring back the submerged Idols as the local boatmen dared to touch those idols. As per this INTAC report- “ Telkupi is about a hundred and thirty kilomitres south east of the jain temple center of Parashnath Hill, and thirty kilometres south of Dhanbad town today. Half the waters of the Panchet Dum are in Jharkhand and half in West Bengal. Some images of the temples are in Jharkhand at  Katapatthar in Dhanbad District. And some in local temples or private houses in West Bengal side of the border in Purulia district.


 Referred INTAC report also indicates “According to W.W. Hunter in his Statistical Account of Bengal (List of ancient Monuments of Bengal, 1896) the image from Telkupi of Bhairav from which Bhairavasthan gets its name, was of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankra of the jains. In the opinion of F.B.Bradley-Birt the statuary was Jaina ( Chota-Nagpore: A little Known Province of the Empire 1903/1910,p.181). In the INTACH survey of Jaina monuments of South Jharkhand ( Purulia, Sereikela,2006) the Jaina statuary was invariably found in the sites with similar temple architecture as the Bhairavasthan temples of Telkupi. Therefore, every reason to assume Telkupi was a jaina temple clauster.”. In the same INTAC report photographs of some of these idols are also displayed. The structural similarity between the idols of Telkupi and Polkeri is quite evident ; the dissimilarity is only in the red cloth.


Hence, can we draw a rich lineage in between Telkupi & Polkeri ? Is the idol carved out of black-stone before & during Pal Period is still worshipped daily ?

May be the original structure earmarked to house the idol had its natural death or destroyed during the development programme of the young country, against the huge time scale the region of the locality changed from one form to another but the God’s idol remain live by the believers. It had remained a solace to the villagers ; it will continue its peaceful influence on the anxious minds in future. Religion, society & time may change but the idol remains as an assimilation of Indian heritage & legacy forever & continued to be emblem for all hopes & good deeds and a symbol of destroyer of all evils.

Source :  http://www.icomos.org/risk/worldreport/2006-2007/pdf/H@R 2006-2007 21 National report India .pdf
Photo-
           1. Jain idols from Telkupi (from the above report).

           2. Other photographs- Taken by the author.

            Research & Picture Courtesy - Abhijnan Basu.
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