Puthia Rajbari

Puthia is an upazila headquarter. It is situated on the Rajshahi-Natore highway and it is 30 km east of Rajshahi town. The distance of Puthia palace from the Rajshahi-Natore highway is only one km south. Formerly Puthia was a village of Laskarpur pargana. It was named Laskarpur after a certain fief holder Laskar Khan. During the rule of the Mughals Laskar Khan, following the examples of other Afghan chiefs of Bengal opposed the establishment of Mughal rule and abstained from paying revenue to the Mughal Govt. Mughal emperor Akbar (1556-1605) took punitive action against him whereby Laskar Khan was evicted from his fief which eventually was granted to the zamindar of Puthia. Batshacharya’s son Pitambar was the first zamindar of Puthia. His younger brother Nilambar was the first to get the title of Raja from the Mughal Govt. In 1744, this zmindary was divided among four co-sharers among whom Panch Ani (Five Annas) and Char Ani (Four Annas) co-sharers earned fame in conducting the zamindary. Maharani Sarat Sundari and Maharani Hemanta Kumari of Panch Ani estate were famous for successful management of their zamindary. On the other hand Paresh Narayan and his wife Monomohini of Char Ani estate became famous as patrons of education and learning. In the field of architectural activities the role of the Puthia zamindars is praiseworthy.

Panch Ani palace

The palace of Puthia is surrounded by ditches. The Panch Ani palace is situated on the south end of an open field. It was built on 4.31 acres of land. Although damaged at many places, the surrounding wall of this palace was once very strong and unassailable. According to the ground plan the entire palace is divided into four courts: (a) Kachari (office) Angan (court); (b) Mandirangan or Gobindabari (Temple court); (c) Andar Mahal (inner quarters); (d) Residence of Maharani Hemanta Kumari. Centering around these courts are arranged the rooms of this palace with the exception of north and west blocks of the kachari Angan, which are two-storied. The other remaining parts of the palace are one storied. For entering into the court of this north-facing block there are two lofty entrances with spacious porches on the west and east ends. Entrance gate on the west end leads to kachari Angan, while the eastern one facilities entry into Temple court or Gobindabari court. In front of each porch there are four lofty semi-Corinthian pillars extending up to the upper storeys where they have attached to two balconies. Between these two entrances there is a wide verandah. Also in front of this verandah are four semi-Corinthian pillars covering the upper part of this building. On the east side of this verandah there is a wooden staircase leading to the upper storey. Along the verandah there are three rooms with different measurements. Western part of the western entrance has different size of four rooms with open verandah. Attached to the eastern part of the eastern entrance and close to Govindabari are two small rooms with verandah. Besides these, all the rooms built on the east and south of Kachari Angan are in ruins.  

The double storied portion of the northern block of the building with east-west axis has a wide hall room. Besides this wide hall room this upper storey portion has six rooms with varied measurements. In front of the hall room there is a wide verandah flanked by two balconies on the east and west. In the center of the Gobindabari of this palace there is a pancharatna Bara Gobinda temple. The temple is beautifully ornamented with terracotta plaques. On the western part of the Andar Mahal of the palace there are two rooms and several bath rooms. On the southern part of the inner quarters there are two bed rooms. Most of the rooms of this court are in ruins. According to an inscription the Panch Ani palace was erected by Rani Hemanta Kumari in 1895. She dedicated the palace to her late mother-in-law Maharani Saratsundari Devi.

Rani Hemanta Kumari residence

This one storied residence of Rani Hemanta Kumari is situated on the eastern part of the Andar Mahal of Panch Ani palace. The east facing Building has in its front a porch. It has a central reception hall (10.12×6.25 m) with nine rooms on its north and south. These rooms are similarly arranged on two sides of the hall room. Besides this, there are stretched verandahs with arches in front and rear of the hall room. In the construction of the roof of this palace iron and wooden beams have been used. This building may be erected in the first or second decade of 20th century.

 

Char Ani palace

On the western side of the Panch Ani palace there is a pond called Sham Sarobar on the bank of which is situated Char Ani palace. This palace once covered an area of 4.80 acres of land. At present this palace is totally destroyed. Only in extant in dilapidated condition are its entrance portal, Kachari Bari and the Khazanchi Khana (treasury house). The Khazanchi Khana building is divided into eighteen rooms with wide verandahs on north, east and west. According to an inscription on the gateway the Char Ani palace was erected in 1886.

 

Main gateway of Charani Rajbari

Charani Khazanchikhana              

 

Temples

In the vicinity of the Puthia Rajbari, there are 14 attractive temples. Among these, Pancharatna Shiva mandir, Pancharatna Govinda Mandir, Do-chala Chhota Ahnik and Bara Ahnik Mandir, Chauchala Chhota Govinda Mandir, Tarapur Rath Mandir/Haowakhana are famous for their architectural beauty. Most of them are decorated with terracotta plaques. That is why; the Puthia Rajbari is called a complex of temples. These temples are:

Pancha Ratna Shiva temple

It's another name is Bhubeshawar Shiva Mandir. Among the existing temples in Bangladesh, this temple is an exceptional and more attractive for its architectural beauty. It is situated on the southern bank of Shiva sagar (sarobar). The whole structure of this lofty brick built temple is placed on a large square (65′-0"×65′-0") and high platform (11′-8"). It has only one square cell, measuring 14′-3"×14′-3" in the center surrounded by veranda with cusp arched opening on all four sides. The temple is crowned by five ornamental ratnas. The high platform is approached by two staircases; one stone staircase is in the south and the other brick-built in the north. The inner and outer wall of the temple is plastered with few vertical panels which embellished some mythological figures.  There is a large black basalt Shiva Linga in the central cell. The temple was built by Rani Vobonmoyee in 1823-1830 and it is said that three millions of taka were expended for the construction of this temple.    

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, "Puthiar Pancharatna Shiva Mandir", Bangladesh Asiatic Society Patrika, Dhaka, Vol-20, June 2002.

Pancha Ratna Bara Govinda Mandir

This temple stands in the Govindabari or Mandirangan of Panch Ani palace. It is a brick built structure placed on a high platform. According to the ground plan the temple consists of a central square cell (garvagriha) with four small square cells on four corner and four narrow verandahs on four sides with three cusp arched openings. Though internally these cells are covered with semi-circular dome and verandahs are barrel vaults but externally it is crowned by five ornamental ratnas which covered with pyramidal shape of chauchala vaults. This temple is remarkable for its outer wall surface ornamentation. The whole of four side wall surfaces are decorated with red colour terracotta plaques, depicting various episodes from great epic, Ramayana and the legends of Radha-Krishna, various floral and geometric designs. Especially the western facade is embellished with Lanka-kanda, Radha-Krishna legends, ten Avatars (a series of terracotta panels under the curved cornice) and contemporary social activities (two lines of terracotta panels in the lower portion of the structure) like the Navaratna temple of Kantanagar in Dinajpur district. It is unknown to us as to who and when the temple was erected. But it is assumed from its architectural features that it might have constructed in the last half of the 18th century.  

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, "Puthiar Pancharatna Govinda Mandirer Sthapatyashaily", Rajshahi University studies, Rajshahi, Part-A, Vol-32, 2004.

 

Do-Chala Chhota Ahnik Mandir

This east facing temple is situated close to the north-west corner of the residence of Maharani Hemantakumari. Its ground plan is rectangular. It has triple archway in the east and one in the south. Its inner wall surface is plastered but the east and south facade are highly decorated with terracotta plaques depicting Radha-krishna-Balram legends, the episode of Ramayana and floral motifs like the Bara Govinda Mandir. The whole structure is covered by a do-chala roof with curved cornice. The date of construction is unknown to us. But it is assumed that it may be erected during the last of 18th or the first decade of the 19th century.

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, "Puthiar Do-Chala Mandir", IBS Journal, No 10, Institute of Bangladesh Studies, Rajshahi University, July 2003.

 

Bara Ahnik Mandir

This east facing temple is situated in front of the Char Ani Rajbari and the west bank of the Shyamsagar (Sarobar). Structurally it is an exceptional temple in Bangladesh. We see only one example of this type of temple at Khalia (Rajaram Mandir) in Faridpur district. The temple consists of three chambers, do-chala in the center and attached two chauchala in its north and south side. So it may be called tri-mandir. The central do-chala structure has triple archway with an open platform in its front side. The eastern facade of this temple is highly ornamented with terracotta plaques but many of these plaques have fallen down due to want of preservation. It is the contemporary of Chhota Ahnik Mandir and constructed by the Char Ani Rajas of Puthia estate.  

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, "Puthiar Do-Chala Mandir", IBS Journal, No 10, Institute of Bangladesh Studies, Rajshahi University, July 2003.

 

Chauchala Chhota Govinda Mandir

This temple stands to the adjacent of the Bara Ahnik Mandir. According to the ground plan it consists of one cell with two verandahs in the east and south. The whole structure is placed on a high platform and covered with a chauchala pyramidal shape of vault. The whole southern facade is highly ornamented with terracotta plaques like Bara Govinda Mandir. The depicting subject matter of terracotta plaques are ten Avatars, Lankakanda, Radha-krishna legends, floral and geometric motifs and social scenery of that time. The western facade is also decorated with terracotta plaques. But some plaques have been fallen down or stolen at present due to proper maintenance. This temple was also erected in the last of 18th or first of 19th century.

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, "Puthiar Chauchala Chhota Govinda Mandir", Protnatatta, Vol-8, Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, June 2002.

 

Dol-Mandav or Dol-Mandir

This square (externally measuring 69′-9" a side) temple is located in the Puthia bazar. It is a four storied and brick-built building. Each storey is gradually going up to the top and finished with a square chamber like the Pancha Mahal at Fatepur sikri or Mandvi at Baroda city in India. Each storey is opened with arcade. The top square chamber is covered with a ribbed dome and the dome is adorned with a kalsha finial. The wall surfaces have been simply coated with layers of plaster. According to an inscription Dol-Mandir was constructed in 1778 by the Panch Ani Raja Vubanendra Narayan

 

Chhota Shiva Mandir

This south facing temple is situated in the south-west corner of Panch Ani palace and east side of Arani road. It has only one cell covered internally with semi-circular dome and externally a pyramidal shape of chauchala roof with curved cornice. Its only south facade is decorated with terracotta plaques depicted Vaishnav dance and other Deities figures of Hindu religion. It was erected by Chaudda pai Raja Anandanarayan in 1804. There are another two temples like this in Puthia, one is Shiva temple and the other is Gopal temple. They are situated in a crop field in Krisnapur Mauza, one kilometere west of Puthia Rajbari

 

Gopal Mandir

It is a flat roof Dalan temple, situated near the Chhota Govinda Mandir in Char Ani estate and also known as Radhakanta Mandir. This south facing and two storied building is placed on a high platform. There is a staircase on the west to reach the platform. It is a very simple structure. Structurally it may be called one ratna temple. Inner and outer wall surfaces of the whole structure are covered with plaster only. It is the building of 20th century.

 

Tarapur Mandir or Haowakhana

This is situated three kilometers west of Puthia Rajbari. A visitor can reach here easily from Rajshahi-Natore road. It is a two storied and flat roof building, built on a high platform in the centre place of a large tank. This type of structure is very rare in Bangladesh. Once upon a time, this temple is named 'Rath Bagicha Tarapur' but now it is known as 'Hawakhana' to the local people. It is an east facing brick-built structure. In the ground floor it has an oblong chamber surrounded by a narrow verandah and upper floor has only one chamber. There are three archway of ground floor chamber each in the south, north and east. On the other hand, the verandah has triple archway on the south, north and east and one on the west. The upper floor chamber has triple archway on the east and one on the north and south. The wall surfaces are simply coated with layers of plaster. There is no ornamentation except some panels on the outer wall surface. It is assumed that this building was erected in the 18th century. Now it is in dilapidated condition. Moreover, the partitions of tank have lost its charming beauty.

Reference for further details:

Kazi Md. Mostafizur Rahman, Rajshahi Zamidarder Prasad-sthapatya (1793-1950) Dhaka: Bangladesh Asiatic Society, 2009.

M M Rahman and K M Rahman,  "Palaces of zamindars (Rajshahi District)", ABM Husain (ed.), Architecture, Cultural Survey of Bangladesh Series-2, Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, 2007.