In India’s architectural history, temples of Bengal find just a cursory
reference – as a small aberrant type. Applying correctives to this aberration,
the authors here show how Bengal temple architecture, with its distinct regional
style, merits a far wider recognition than it has been accorded so far.
Recorded evidence: notably archaeological and epigraphical, suggests that
significant temple-building activity started in Bengal from the Gupta era (in
early fifth century), when a large number of Vishnu and Shiva temples were built
– with the revival of the Brahmanical faith. Later, during the Pala rule,
several outstanding Buddhist structures came up throughout their territories.
And the activity continued till the late medieval period. Sadly, most of these
ancient structures have disappeared under the onslaughts of time, natural
calamities, and adverse socio-political history. However, on the basis of the
limited surviving examples, the authors show how temple architecture of Bengal
forms one of the most distinctive groups among the sacred buildings of India.
The book explores the stylistic evolution of Bengal temple art -- covering a
vast time-span of about 1,500 years: from the Gupta period that marked the
beginning of a large-scale temple-building activity to its final flowering in
the late medieval era when the region saw some of the finest terracotta temples.
Making a close study of the representative temple types, it offers an in-depth
analysis of their stylistic nuances – together with the architectural merits of
the temples like, for instance, their unique design, significant typological
innovations, scale of buildings, degree of terracotta embellishments, skills of
execution and, of course, the present state of their preservation. Besides the
Brahmanical Hindu temples, the authors study Bengal’s Jain temples and the
Buddhist stupas and viharas as well. The book is generously illustrated with
photographs, conjectural drawings, and maps.
Dr Sibabrata Halder and Dr Manju Halder, (both born, 1949), are Senior
Professors, Bengal Engineering and Science University, Howrah.