Gokulchand Temple - Gokulnagar

Gokulchand Temple – Gokulnagar

Situated 19km east of the terracotta temple town of Bishnupur, the Gokulchand Temple in Gokulnagar is arguably one of the grandest stone built temples of West Bengal. The vast flat flood plains of Bengal offer few places where stone can be quarried, which led to temple architects using the abundant supply of clay to fashion bricks as their primary building material. That said, stone built temples do exist in the region, and the laterite Gakulchand Temple at Gokulnagar is considered the largest stone temple of the Bankura District of West Bengal.

The temple complex is defined by a high wall encircling the compound, giving the site the feeling of a fort rather than a temple. The panchratna (five pinnacled) temple reaches a height of just under 20m, with the central octagonal pinnacle flanked by smaller square pinnacles at the temple corners. A veranda with triple arched entrance is present on each of the east, south and west elevations, with a corridor acting as a circumambulatory path around the temple.

Although ornamentation at this temple is minimal, some low relief carvings do exist on the east and south elevations, but they have been subjected to severe weathering. These depict various avatars of Vishnu and raslila motifs along with other mythological images.

There is no idol as such in the sanctum, but instead a photograph of an idol which is worshiped. This is of Lord Krishna, the idol having been removed from the temple long ago and relocated to Bishnupur. It does make a return journey home on special occasions such as Rash and Holi.

At the southern extent of the temple complex lies the Nat Mandir, with a triple arch entrance facing the temple, and single arched entrances on west and east sides. Although the mandir roof collapsed long ago, much of the fallen masonry has been collected and is stored within the structure. There’s a huge jigsaw puzzle waiting to be pieced back together at some point in the future.

Although an inscribed foundation plaque exists, weathering has rendered it illegible. Scholars are in a broad agreement that the temple was constructed by the Malla King Raghunath Simha I, probably in the middle of his reign, circa 1643 CE.

Up until the early 20th century the Gokulchand Temple had endured a lengthy period of neglect. Much of the stone masonry had been robbed for the construction of buildings and roads, as sourcing alternative materials elsewhere would have been a lengthy and costly process. Some restoration efforts were started in 1923 when Rakhaldas Bondopadhyay visited the temple, but it was only in 1996 that the A.S.I. took over protection of the site and declared it a monument of national importance.

Today the temple is very well cared for and maintained, with an A.S.I employed caretaker always in attendance when the site is open, and it seems plans are forming to potentially reconstruct the Nat Mandir to its former glory.

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4 replies »

  1. Hi Kevin, I wish you would also post Google Map Location link at the bottom to make it easy to find exact location.


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