Friday, July 23, 2010

Temple Terracottas of Bengal

The following is a link from Mukukl Dey Archive :

His book has not been reprinted .... therefore a rare one. I shall be thankful if someone in possession of the same kindly gives me access the same for my work on Iconography of terra cotta temples of Bengal.

Friday, January 15, 2010



I visited a small village named Erera during January,2007 ...... this was my first visit to a small place without any official bindings in many years.It is near a station called Salar in Murshidabad district.The village is predominantly inhabitated by agriculturists - the land owners and the peasants.

I stayed at Erera for two days and two nights.The last place where my host took me on the 1st day was Sonarundi.It is at the border of districts Burdwan and Murshidabad, 5 km from the place where I was put up .... may be 17/18 km from Katwa , a big and quite well known town in the Burdwan district and on the confluence of the Ganges and Ajay rivers.


The Palace, the Gate ,the Tower and the stable are in ruinous stage, ravaged by time . A small part of Palace only is habitable . Inside ,within the habitable part itself, there is a huge courtyard and a 'thakur-dalan' where idols of Radha-Krishna are worshiped. A large-scale repair work was going on there on the structure around the court-yard ... unfortunately , photography of the court-yard and 'thakur-dalan' is prohibited.

(On LH, a view of the once-magnificent Arch of the Entrance)

Most of the external areas of the palace are a photographer's delight.But, it is important that this once-magnificent structure gets fund for repair urgently, as I was told by my host that the deterioration is rapid.

( On the LH, a view of a small portion of the Palace which has properly maintained facade.

On the left, we can see the sprawling Stable with no roof and at the far end, the Watch Tower with 52 stairs......... now inaccessible. )

The Palace was a two storied brick-and-mortar structure , rectangular in shape , built with bricks.The structure could be at least 125 years old.The photos 'Ravaged by time' posted at the end of this page as well as the one above give the Viewer idea about the height . The compound wall and the minor gates with arches are gone. But, as one walks around this Palace, and also on the ground beyond the Stable, one can see crumbling structures of the once-strong boundary walls , gates etc.

I felt sad at the way two cannons were lying on the dusty ground , neglected . If they could have been mounted on masonry blocks , with their respective histories inscribed on plaques fixed onto the front face of these blocks, it would have looked quit regal !

(On the RH, one of the two cannons lying on the ground)

The owner, known as 'Ranee-ma' stays at Katwa with her relatives.I would like to meet her during the coming winter during my next visit to that region , learn and publish the history of this Palace with some more photographs . This will create an awareness about the urgency of the situation. Also, I believe , publicity will attract tourists to Sonarundi.After all , Katwa is not very far from Calcutta. Crossing the rivers in a ferry while wondering at the width of the confluence , homage to Ma Kali and Radha-Krishna at BilalaBabar Ashram at Shankhai Ghat and then a visit to 'Uddharapurer Ghat' on the Ganges and then enjoy an afternoon's photography around this Palace, feeding the age-old fishes of adjacent pond can be an intersting trip to travel-crazy Bengalis.

A post-script : Forefathers of my mother are from a neighbouring village ... Shimulia. I was told that my maternal Grandfather, Yoshoda Nandan Bhattachayra, who was a freedom fighter and a Doctor, studied in the school adjacent to the Palace of Sonarundi. It was at least an hour's walk for a boy from his village those days.


( Clockwise from the top :

Ravaged by time -I

Ravaged by time - The entrance to the Tower.

Ravaged by time - Another view of of I )


If one plans to travel by train and buses from Calcutta , there can be two alternatives .

  • One can go to Burdwan by train, take a Burdwan-Baharampur bus and get down at Sonarundi.This trip will take upto 90 minutes.
  • At the time of returning, one has to change buses at Pachindi to visit Uddharanpurer Ghat on the Ganges and Shankhai Ghat at the confluence of the Ganges and Ajay river.These are small distances which can be covered on foot . The ferry-ride across the confluence in a bright afternoon is a trip one must enjoy. On the other side of the ferry-ghat,one can take a rickshaw to the market of Katwa town, relish his/her pick of the choicest sweets available from the neat eateries and then take a train to Calcutta.
  • The other way is to start from Katwa , cross the confluence to Shankhai Ghat and follow the reverse of the bus journey mentioned above.Once back to Burdwan, there will be lots of trains to take to Calcutta.

From top to bottom ( clockwise) :

(Confluence of the Ganges and Ajay river)

( Uddharanpurer Ghat on the Ganges )

( While I was standing at the Sankhai Ferry Ghat)

NOTE : for details regarding location, please view :


The youngest member of our family........ last to join us , first to depart !!

This is from my writings during Sept-Oct,06 :
We are worried and sad .......
Knight on the eve of his 8th birthday,February,2008.
When Knight went with me for his morning walk this morning, no one could say that he may not be with us after a few weeks. He walked with his usual swagger, tail up and swaying, ignoring the bark of the street dogs around .
Only if you watch him closely, you will find that his legs are thinner, the ribs are showing, the skull is protruding through his still excellent coat. May be his eyes also betray his sinking health and ... his suffering.
Knight is suffering from the deadly disease - Asitis. One or more of his two vital organs...... kidney and liver are not functioning the way they should, robbing our dear Lab of his life force. And, sadly, this degeneration cannot be reversed by medicines. Careful administration of medicines ( mostly homeopathic ) and diet can retard the progress of this killer disease. Ruby , my wife , is determined to see that her Lab lives another two years .... he is 8 1/2 years old now. I shall thank God if he completes nine.

Memories of Knight : his early days at Durgapur :

Knight greets Pucho on his return
from Pune, summer 2004.

I brought Knight home in an evening of the spring of 1999.He was carried in a small plastic basket. He was 6 weeks old and he drank milk from a plate on his arrival. ( Only now, we have to sometimes administer milk or glucose-water solution by droppers.) I was worried if he was deaf and would clap near his ears to test if he would respond.
He had two encounters with death during the very first year of his life.
The first one was when he was about 13/14 weeks old. While Ruby was preparing breakfast and tiffin for Babai and Pucho before they would go to school , a subdued but sharp groan attracted her notice. She found to her horror that the pup was being carried away by three dogs (of Indian origin) through  our Bungalow's backyard . He was rescued and taken to a doctor at Benachitty who administered the 'first aid'. But, the real treatment .... stitching of the gaping wound... was done by Dr Saha . His stitches , done in the morning, would open up in the night. I still recollect that to give relief to Knight, Pucho and Ruby would stay awake and wipe off the blood and puss that would ooze from the wound. It took 6 days and 27 stitches before he was on the recovery path. And , without Dr Saha , Knight would have died.
Knight has been my companion for morning walks since he was a little grown-up. The second brush he had with death was because of my fault. I used to often leave him unleashed during his morning walks . He would often stray into the bushes on the sides of the solitary lanes of our colony and would catch up with me after I have gone a few steps ahead. I heard a muted groan.... and Knight had blood FLOWING out of a gush from his right hind leg. How I brought him back to our Bungalow is a story which we can skip. Again, Dr Saha came as the angel of his life,He arrived  within 20 minutes of our phone call . The verandah was full of the dark blood in spite of tying up the wounded leg with cloth . He stitched the gush and ( I remember till date) in a reproaching voice that the dog could have died out of shock of blood loss.

There were two fallouts of these two events. Knight and Bhonde , the street dog who was carrying him away remained enemies throughout their lives. Knight grew up to be a strong and spirited lab.... though we discouraged his being a quarrelsome animal, we taught him to reply back to barks and chases Knight faced during morning and after-noon walks .Knight eventually could put Bhonde on the defensive . Secondly, he was not allowed to walk without leash any more. When he was older, he would sneak away from the compound .... we could not keep 100% check on this , but, Ruby would quickly start calling him back and shut him indoor.

3 years old Knight : our garden at Durgapur in Nov,2002.

Like all other Labs, Knight was always a very sober dog, rarely thrusting himself on a visitor. Even then, when we used to have a large no of visitors, we used to tie him up in a room adjacent to the sitting room .....from where he could see us. He would groan after a while to call attention and seek release. We noticed that he would not disturb the guests at all when set free from leash.... he would enter the room soberly , sniff around a little and curl up near a person who was not averse to the proximity of a dog , but away from persons who detest dogs. Gradually, he developed habit of not coming near the persons who have aversion for dogs.

Knight with my mother and aunt at our Durgapur Bungalow

Knight at my friend's residence at Tollygunge.

A few fun stories about Knight. When he was a 'kid', he pissed near the leg of the very tall lady. Once he chased a cow without caring about the kicks from her hind legs .The cow was running away and hurt a maid servant during his flight. This part of the story was not 'funny' ..... Ruby had to arrange for this woman's treatment in our Company's dispensary. He used to dislike young boys in shorts, though, we could never understand the reason. He would bark at the young boys who used to visit our residence and once he chased a boy and his parents were quite tense for a while apprehending that the boy would fall down or be bitten by Knight. Neither happened and we were relieved when Knight was put on leash. Another story I remember of Knight charging across the garden and colliding with Pucho . The impact was so severe that Pucho lost control and fell flat on the ground.
Though he was bitten by street dogs in his early childhood, he had a liking for some of the dogs and bitches he would meet daily in the neighbouring area. This aspect of his nature was visible even when he came to Calcutta in December,03. The only non-street dog he was comfortable with is Nadubabu, a Golden Retriever.
After quite a few months of his demise :
We lost Knight on 12th October,2007.
His end was painful. Last three days, he could not move downstairs to relieve himself. A local Doctor and a vet-assistant diagnosed this as a problem of worms and injected him with intervenes doses of fluids ( he starved himself to a pathetic figure) and anti-worm drugs. In retrospect, his end was hastened by this treatment. We can understand now that his liver failed and he was never to recover. But, he would have lived a little longer had he been left alone.

Knight's last ride in our car.We took him out for a trip to Brace Bridge on the afternoon of 16/9/2007,as we apprehended his end was approaching.His loss of health is evident from the dents on his skull.

Coming back to his last days, we thought of relieving him of his pain and suffering. He would pass fluid and make pathetic noise calling us to clean him. He used be laid on newspapers and Ruby was constantly cleaning him with water and drying him with hair-dryer. The house smelled of phenyl. Ma came and left after one night as she could not bear to witness Knight's suffering. We vacillated, but, Babai and Pucho put strength in our hearts.
Even then, I fixed up an appointment with Compassionate Crusader Trust and changed it. That was when I dropped Ma to Jamir Lane and asked Ruby how was Knight faring. That morning, at 5am, Knight wagged her tail when Ruby came out of the bedroom and offered him morsels of food. We thought all these medicines were having an effect for good. But, within 2 hours , his heath deteriorated.
I returned with a piece of white cloth and flowers from Lake market and called the expert from CCT .They sent a young man with an ambulance-like set-up. Knight was lying on my lap very quietly since I returned.I believe this kind of animal perhaps can guess that his relief from the pain was round the-corner.(It is 9 months and 10 days since the day Knight left us and my heart is heavy as I recall and write about the morning of 12/10/2007.)

Knight our constant companion :
at Bakreswar, March, 2005

I was sitting in front of the cupboard facing the door. He hardly opened his eyes when the man came in and emitted a loud sound when the injection was given ( I read about such a compound in TOI of 22/7/2008.... this medicine,pentobarbital- a barbiturate commonly known as ,is strong enough to kill a human being. Some people do visit
Mexico where pentobarbital is easily available and buy this medicine to commit suicide ).This man who gave the injection consoled me stating that a pet tells something to the owner when he leaves him.
The rest was quiet and dignified. Ruby and I accompanied Knight in the ambulance of CCT to the graveyard. He was wrapped in the white cloth, we placed flower on his body and he had a dignified exit from Parnasree, never to come back. A rectangular grave was awaiting Knight ... when he was laid there, the person who put him in the grave joined us in admiring the shine of his black coat. The bright sunlight made it clear to us how badly his lever was affected .... his eyes were yellow.

Next morning, in our Western verandah, Ruby noticed a patch as if a dog slept there. I do not believe in this sort of things, a patch on the yellow mosaic is still there which no longer resembles a dog's sleeping posture . No harm in believing, that was the one last night Knight spent in our company.
When Babai came home during December,07-January,08, he did not want see the pictures of Knight which I took when his health was declining. Babai said only once ; "That Knight is not besides me when I am at Parnasree is unthinkable".
Babai hugs Knight before he goes
to the USA in August,2005

But, Knight's memory is with us more than any other pets we had because he was such a decent character and understood us so well! Our life-style will not permit us to have another pet for a long time to come.... but, I wonder if we shall ever have another opportunity to have a friendly dog like Knight around !
Before Departure.

Resting in peace.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


My elder son Sujash got married to Moumita on 11/12/2009.The Reception was held on 13/12/2009. Both the functions went on smoothly. Sujash and Moumita flew to New York , back to their routine of higher studies on 22/12/2009.My younger son Surath flew back to London after cooling his heels for a few more days on 27/12/2009. The last of the guests left on 31/12/2009. We loaded lots of photos in the digital frame Surath has brought from the UK . As these photos offer a slide show of the events leading to the marriage in 2008 , I thought it is time to pen a 'Thank You' note to all who contributed to make the Reception a grand evening.

Moumita suggested if the Reception can be arranged in a lawn .Fortunately, we located a lawn quite close to our Flat @ Parnasree.This lawn in a premises called 'Daga Vatika' suited us to a 'T'.It was half-a-kilometer away, close to Behala Airport and adequate for the 300 guests we planned to invite.The few persons who went with us to check if the lawn is good enough came out satisfied at our selection.

After this easy task was over. Ruby started the lengthy process of getting ready the dresses everyone of our and the extended families would wear on the evening of Reception. In all, she designed more than a dozen dresses for that evening, each of which drew admiring attention of the guests.

Hurray! to Liaqat whose associates did a wonderful job for us.

FROM L TO R : SUJASH, MOUMITA AND SURATH in dresses designed by RUBY on 13/12/2009

Surath landed in Calcutta on 5/12/2009 and took over the responsibility of the balance work to be done for the evening of the Reception and formalities of gift exchanges . He single-handedly tackled decoration of the lawn and the Reception Hall and led the running around during exchange of gifts between the families of the bride and groom.He was in the party that went to accompany the bride and the groom to our Flat from the bride's residence on the afternoon before Reception, managing the activities of decoration on phone . Surath also captured video and still photographs of the occasion which fill up 16 GB of my HDD.

' Thank you' Surath for managing all these activities without loosing your cool.


Surath's fiancee, Ritika was always available for discussion and video chat with Ruby regarding the dress design phase and kept up the tempo. This was her 2nd visit to our place in Calcutta. She handled two major responsibilities with elan . First was : carrying gifts for Moumita's family, together with Surath and a contingent of US/Indian friends, to her place and representing our family .Second was : looking after the guests during the Reception. Her demeanour earned a lot praise from our friends, immediate and extended families.

'Three Cheers' for Ritika for coming forward to share the families' responsibility of hospitality.


Our Caterer Debu , whom we 'discovered' a fortnight before the Reception, executed his responsibility of the dinners of both the marriage party and the Reception smoothly. Shall I call it like 'a hot knife in a slab of butter'.... hmm, not a very apprpriate comparison. A well-known caterer of Calcutta,"Bhoj' was thrown out because their extremely poor show in another Reception a few days ahead of our dinner. A risk we took and whoa!, it worked !

'Three cheers' for Debu for 'delivering' the long-debated menus on the buffet tables , excellent and mouth-watering in taste .

'Three cheers' for Moly and Prabhat for their co-operation in allowing our out-station guests in their vacant flat @ Parnasree. It was a great help as we could accommodate Ritika and her parents, who came all the way from Gurgaon plus some the friends of Sujash just across the road.


The marriage is an occasion which need the best from the mother of the groom and Ruby was always ready with ideas for making the occasion different by raising all the departments a notch above the usual . Design of dresses and the invitation card and packaging the gifts to the bride's family received her top attention. I do not know which were her bigger achievement - the aesthetics or the show or managing the disparate group of guests our friends and relatives,friends of Sujash and those of two extended families .... I cannot say. I would say, Ruby, what this occasion would have been if you were not so resourceful !


Not resting on her laurels, she has started planning for the surprise items for Ritika-Surath's marriage !

Saturday, December 22, 2007


It is about one year I retired from a 9am-7pm job. I did not feel like going back to this routine. So, I did not try hard enough for another assignment.

I have deviated from my initial plan.I never thought that I would spend time reading story -books, which was my favourite pastime when I was working.If I go back to my blog written 3 months after 'retirement', I find the following:

'A great thing will be brush up my knowledge of : Photoshop, MS Project, MINITAB & Six Sigma and learn a bit of : Coreldraw/Pagemaker, HTML (Elementary) & Web hosting, PRIMAVERA during April and September,'07.'

My time this year has gone into other areas.

  • I have done good amount of reading on terracotta temples.... though not enough.In this process, I have been associated with 3 major libraries of Calcutta.Quite an enriching experience.
  • I have come in contact with members of 'AISHEE', an NGO engaged in restoration of a Terracotta temple of Hooghly district.Now, I have been invited to join this group.
  • I have visited numbers of Terracotta temples @ Hooghly district and Bishnupur, have taken hundreds of snaps and can start writing my 'OWN' articles.
  • I have been an active member of PANIIT's 'IITians for ITIs' Project.
  • I have entered into a contract with a company publishing articles on net.I have started @ the ground level out of my choice.I have now offer for shifting gear.
  • I have made friends with Iftekar of While I have no commercial interest in 'walks', Cacuttacanvass will grow.
  • I have remained active in Flickr through out the year.May be my skill for taking and editing photos has improved !
  • I spent time with and for my family.

All these are activities with long time horizon.I learnt during my 40s , from lectures of and articles by Sharu Rangnekar, that a person must plan for post-retirement life.......s/he need have one or more hobbies to remain 'meaningfully occupied.I took that advice seriously though these activities are what I thought of doing much later in my life.

Publishing in net does give a person a lot of satisfaction. A person can always find friends , if he tries seriously, who enjoy similar interests and can contribute to his knowledge and ideas.I never could imagine such a pastime during my 40s!

I have regrets too.

  • I lost my friend Knight, our black Lab.He was 8 1/2 years old when he left us on 12/10/07. We expected him to be around for another 1 1/2 to 2 years.A loss I am coping with.
  • I have not learnt enough of Photoshop and 'Moviemaking',ie digital editing of my video shooting.
  • I have lost the habit of reading novels.Night-time,my time for reading books, is now devoted to Internet.

All-in-all,this year , I have entered a different phase of life. Capital market has definitely added to my I do not yet have a reason to worry in the financial front.

An enjoyable period of my autumn indeed !

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Will our children read Epics ?

I read an article in the Calcutta edition of Times Of India , published on 1st December,2007 that a US poll finds more believe in devil than in Darwin.This article is in page 17 of TOI,taken from a report by Reuters.

A quote from the report :" It is the latest survey in the US to highlight America's deep level of religiosity,a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world.".

A lot of statistical analysis follow.Those who are interested may please read the article in the electronic version of this publication.A lot of persons surveyed believe in God and devil.I believe if we conducted a similar survey in India, similar trait would have been noticed, but,percentages would surely have been different.

I believe that at the base of such findings ,we have Man's recognition of good and bad as well as his belief in powers beyond .While,the age-old debate continues for and against these beliefs, we have seen often beliefs acquire hues of superstition and turn ugly.Sometimes ,very ugly.

Parents can help their child to grow up with a strong and positive sense of good & bad . I believe,age-old stories of Epics can attract their imagination ,at the same time, build their sense of ethics.The characters , often larger than life,are never dull to a child's mind.The characters, Krishna, Ram ,Sita, Arjun, Ravan ,Karna and Yudhisthir ...... or their Greek and Roman counterparts .....stay at the heart of the child while s/he grows and steps into the world of adolescence and adulthood.

I believe , together with funstories , cartoons and adventures, 'stories' from the age-old tales of our civilisation can be an important part of a child's reading material.A big question : are there simpler editions of these Epics for children? There are.If the parents and more importantly , children demand , there will be more. So many adults reach out to 'Gurus' for 'Yoga' and "Gita' classes..... do they help their children or grandchildren with character building with the insight they acquire ? Does a question come to their mind....had they read Mahabharata in their childhood ,they would have understood 'Gita' better? Or,they would have dealt with their lives' major questions in a more matured manner?

Dear friends,just think about my suggestion. May be you will find it worth pondering.

A child in the company of his grandma