Ramna Kalibari Dhaka

 

In the centre of Ramna Race Course this temple complex stands out most prominently. It belongs to the Dasanami sect, having the title of Giri, of the famous Sankaracharya’s order. In the map of 1859 it is known as “Kerpa Sidhee” (correctly Kripa Siddhi) Akhara. According to temple record Gopala Giri was the first man 10 come here from Joshi matha near Badrinarayana and establish this organisation about 450 years ago. The main temple, as it is now, was erected by Har Charan Giri about 250 years ago. Since then later repairs and some additions have been made to it.

 

This temple area is enclosed within an ancient brick wall, to which a modern gateway has been added on the south. The tank in front of the gate was excavated by Rani Vilasani Devi of Bhawal. As we enter through the gate, we see on our left the remains of a square structure with a vedi in the centre. Here was the oldest temple. Close to it stands the second temple, built in a purely Bengali style of Hindu architecture, though Muslim arched doorways and panels have intruded in. It is a square building, raised on a high plinth, with faceted stumpy pilasters at the corners, and a roof domical in shape but exactly copying the local chauchala bamboo hut. The facade is relieved with arched panels, each panel having smaller arched window. The heaviness of the structure and the unplastered surface (the present plaster is of much later date) speak of its great antiquity, and there is no reason to doubt the temple record that it was constructed for the teacher of Kedar Rai, one of the Barabhuinya zamindars, in the late 16th century A.D. In its north wall is half embedded the samadhi (death memorial) of Gopala Giri. Many other samadhis can be seen near about, and further off is set a rough stone, of which mysterious tales can be heard from the temple pujari.

 

We then cross a big square platform where, in the past, people used to assemble in the month of Chaitra. Near this platform is the samadhi of Har Charan Giri, built as a spired temple with its lower cella an octagon and the spire a tall cone. Deeply curved chhajjas separate these two parts of the temple, which is further enlivened with cusped arches, panels, and slender minarets at the corners.

 

The main temple, which has a tall conical spire, stands on the top of a substructure containing small rooms a style which is first seen in the 18th century in the case of mosques. A flight of steps, flagged with stones, leads up from the south-west. The plan of the temple is based on a tantric conception, having a square cella with verandahs on four sides, and open platforms at the corners the plan appears to be an adoption from Bibi Pari’s tomb. The verandahs have flat vaulted roofs with coping arches at the sides. A multi-cusped archway from each side leads into the temple. The interior has now a marble floor, but originally had eight petalled lotuses. The ceiling has a dome supported on pendentives. On the inner side the wall is carved with figures of serpents. In the centre is a simhasana (lion-throne) on which is installed the image of Kali. Near her feet is placed the Iinga (phallus).

About hundred yards to the north-west from this place is another temple complex, known as Siva, mandir (temple). It enshrines the memory of a saintly woman, Anandamayi, who renounced the world and dedicated her life to the path of salvation.


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