Puthia – Venture Off the Beaten Track
Puthia is a culturally rich sub-district (Upazila) of the Rajshahi District in Bangladesh. The largest number of historically significant Hindu structures in Bangladesh is found in Puthia. Many of these structures are well preserved and Puthia is an interesting area for tourists to explore and gain insight into the history and culture of Bangladesh.
Puthia was originally a large estate for a Maharani and the imposing Maharani’s Palace is a fascinating place to visit. The Govinda Temple is situated to the left of the main façade of the palace. This magnificent temple was built between 1823 and 1895, and is one of the notable monuments in Puthia. The large square building, intricately decorated and crowned with small ornamental towers, is dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna. The temple is decorated with delicately crafted terra-cotta panels that depict scenes from the Hindu epic “Radha-Krishna” as well as other Hindu epics. Rhadha-Krishna is considered by many Hindus to be the love legend of all time. Krishna’s relationship with Rhadha (a cow-herding maiden) is representative of the ultimate model for true love between a male and female. The epic is featured in a variety of art forms and is prominent in North Indian paintings as well as being the subject matter of some renowned Bengali poems. The rich terra-cotta color gives the Govinda Temple the appearance of being draped in a huge red oriental carpet.
A charming Bangla-style miniature temple known as the Jagannath Temple is situated at the back of the Maharani’s Palace. It is built out of brick, resembling the shape of a Bengali bamboo hut, and it is decorated with superb terra-cotta designs, with a single tapering tower. Two more temples close by are also decorated with intricate terra-cotta, although the architectural styles are different.
The Shiva Temple, which is an excellent example of the Hindu style of architecture found in Northern India, features three tiers topped by four spires. Many of the temple’s sculptures were damaged during the War of Liberation; nevertheless, the remaining sculptures and the temple itself, which features interesting stone carvings, are worth seeing. The Shiva temple was erected in 1823 by Rani Bhuvan Mohini Devi.
Puthi may be slightly off the beaten track in mainstream tourism terms, but visitors that have taken the time to explore this appealing area in Bangladesh have found the experience rewarding and the time well spent.