One of the most magnificent temples of the country Kantaji temple is located 287km from the capital Dhaka. About 12 km north of Dinajpur town the 18th-century temple is located. The late medieval era temple is one of the most magnificent temples of that time. The temple is devoted to the Hindu God Kanta or Krishna. The temple is a symbol of the dedication of the love between God Krishna and his wife Rukmini.
The temple is one of the greatest examples of terracotta art in Bangladesh. Filled with art and decoration all over the surface of the temple it has gained eminence as an outstanding monument. The temple originally had nine spired or ‘Nava-Ratna’ which was stripped of after the disastrous earthquake of 1897.
Astounding work of terracotta
The entire temple is filled with terracotta art. The complete temple consists of 3 stories. The temple I filled with decorated with beautiful floral and figured art in complete sequence. The topic of the art consists of Mahabharata, the Ramayan and the many adventures of Krishna. The pictures describe the contemporary social scenes of the era and the favorite times of the aristocrats. The astonishing works clearly preserve the greatest time of the mural arts of Bengal. Unlike other terracotta ornamentations, Kantaji Mandir refrains from any erotic scenes, unlike other south Indian terracotta temples. The contemporary design of the temple is also different than that of the Buddhist temples of the 7th and 8th centuries. The whole scene is decorated sophistically and with a mature sense of art. Unlike other temples that don’t have much consistency among the different plaques, Kantaji mandir has a synchronized composition that pulls together an amazing composition to put together every in a beautiful rhythm.
Shape and available space in the temple
The Kantaji temple is built beautifully on the pyramidal style with receding terraces. The nine ornamental spikes built on each side of the floor and in the middle to look like ratnas (jewels). The temple had arched openings at all four sides so that devotes could enter from all sides to the temple.
The temple has an oblong court with a corrugated tin roof. The temple has a corridor on the ground floor around the prayer chamber. Two richly decorated brick pillars separate the 3 multi cusped arched entrances on each side. Narrow staircases go up the corridor to the second floor which goes up to the third stories.
Restoration of the temple
The construction of the temple began in 1722 CE under the reign of Maharaja Prannath of Dinajpur. After almost 30 years his adopted son Maharaja Ramnath completed the construction in 1752 CE and fulfilled his father’s wish. In the early 20th century Maharaja Girijanath Bahadur Restored the temple after the earthquake but the nine spires could not be recovered. There is some confusion between scholars about when the temple was actually built but that was resolved by a Sanskrit stone inscription that clearly records the time of the construction.
How to get there
You can take the bus from Dhaka to Dinajpur. Upon arrival get on a bus towards Takurgaon and ask to go toward Kantaji Temple. The bus will take you to the nearest bus stop and from which you will have to take a three-wheeler (tomtom) to reach your destination.
The Kantaji temple is a true testament of time that shows us the history and dedication of the people who lived more than a hundred years before us. The temple is listed as a UN world heritage site for its age and mesmerizing work of art that is definitely worth a visit.
Check out our Archeological Tour Package to visit the famous archeological tour in North Bengal.