Being adamant is good! 

It’s very good…..

O.K. just sometimes.

Our trip was meant to be short and sweet. Mom wanted to catch up with her side of the family and I wanted to explore the city I was born in – Kanpur. When you have exactly 3 days in hand and nearly every relative inviting you for meals it gets difficult to do what one wants. Copious emotional blackmail was used to persuade me to drop my plans and enjoy the family gossip sessions. “Come on! Don’t you want to spend every minute with us?” asked an aunt. “What if I’m dead when you come next? lamented another. I wanted to roll my eyes up at all the fuss. Instead, I smiled, and promised: “I’ll be back for lunch”. After all, I was traveling only 35 km away from Kanpur to The Ancient Brick Temple in Bhitargaon and the Jagannath Monsoon temple. The next day, I was on my way at 9 a.m., listening to both – my garrulous and chirpy taxi driver, Dubey and the voice navigation from Google maps.

The Art and Architecture of The Ancient Brick Temple, Bhitargaon

The Ancient Brick Temple is an example of the oldest standing brick and terracotta Hindu shrine built in the 5th century during the Gupta period. As a masterpiece, it throws attention to the excellent craftsmanship and the intricate artistry on brick and terracotta panels. East facing, the temple is an architectural splendor of diminishing tiers. It is raised on a high terrace with a sanctum of 68.25 feet in height and wall thickness measuring 8 feet. There are no windows.

During the 18th century, the temple was struck by lightning and damaged gravely. After Alexander Cunningham became the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1871, he commenced the restoration process. According to our ASI guide, with the terracotta panels, and the bricks found during the excavation of the temple, it was possible to restore the monument to a certain extent. Today, the shikara of the sanctum of the temple stands incomplete. The shikhara of this temple is twice in height to that of the base.

Based on the triratha plan, it is a temple with three rathas or vertical offset projections on the sanctum. In other words, there is a wall with the facet on either side of it. These rathas or facets are enhanced with figures such as Varah Avatara of Vishnu, four armed Durga, Lord Shiva and four armed Ganesha. The sculpted figures are those of animals, birds, and beasts. Strong influences of Vaishnavism are depicted in its sculptures even though no idols of worship are placed inside the temple, The temple has an Ardha-Mandapa ( entrance porch), Antarala (vestibule) and Garbha-Griha ( shrine inside the shikara).

The  Ancient Brick temple is well known for its architectural splendor of the terracotta sculptors of the ancient era. Amidst the hustle bustle of Bithargaon it stands tall, holding itself together. Extremely well maintained and surrounded with manicured lawns, the Ancient Brick temple or the ‘Gupt-kaleen Mandir’ (as the locals call it) is a protected monument under the wings of the Archaeological Survey of India. It’s our window to a period that existed more than 1500 years ago and the birth of temples in India.

Throughout the trip, Dubey was extremely annoying. He had a mind of his own and didn’t trust Google Maps.” Didi, Google can take you wrong. Not Dubey.” he proudly stated. Every few minutes he would stop the car to ask for directions till we would finally reach our destination. However, I had no reason to complain. Despite the multiple halts, I made it back in time to join the family gossip, laughter, and fun during lunch. Images of the temple kept flashing in my mind. Even though it stands incomplete, the beauty, congruence in design and intricate art makes it one beautiful monument to be treasured. I’m glad I had stood my ground this morning and gone. Yes! Sometimes being adamant is good.

Details of location: 

Distance from Kanpur: 35 km

Driving time ( By Car): Approximately 45 min

Location: Find here

 

 

 

 

 

Dipali_Bhasin

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