May 23, 2013 | 09:37 PM (BD Time)
23 May, 2013 Thursday
‘Group Temples of Puthia’
Sheikh Arif Bulbon :
Bangladesh has a very long cultural legacy of more than two millenniums. Hindu temple architecture with its varied styles and decorative designs is a part of that legacy. There are various ancient sites and archaeological findings, with buildings and sculptures that represent the traditions of those who inhabited this deltaic region over centuries. Some of them are now found on the bank of river, some are on the heart of towns or markets (locally known as ‘bazaars’) and some of them are even found in the remote rural areas, considerable numbers of them are not even traceable. Due to lack of conservation, negligence and climatic condition those architectural and archaeological sites and structures remain are under threat.
Puthia is an upazila of Rajshahi district in Bangladesh. It is situated about 30 kilometres east of Rajshahi city and is connected to Rajshahi-Natore highway by a mile stretch of feeder road towards the south.
According to the tradition the Raj Family of Puthia was founded in the reign of Akbar (1556-1605) the Mughal emperor of Indian subcontinent. In the time of this ruler the Mughal Empire was divided into fifteen ‘suba’ or provinces. Suba Bangala was one of them. In Suba Bangala, Puthia was a ‘pargana’ of Lashkarpur Mahal under Sarkar Barbakabad. In this time Puthia was governed by Lashkar Khan who was revolt against Emperor Akbar. It is said that Rajput Man Singh, the famous General and Viceroy of the Mughal emperor Akbar, while on an expedition against Lashkar Khan, met with a holy man named Batsacharya. Man Singh was so impressed by his knowledge of the ‘tantras’ that the victory offered the sage, grants of landed properties, which the latter declined.
This Puthia Raj family was a great patron of temple architecture. With their guidance many religious structures were built with in the Puthia Raj Bari and their adjacent area.
To introduce the glorious past heritage, the temples of Puthia were presented by renowned photographer and photojournalist Babu Ahmed at his 18th solo exhibition titled “Group Temples of Puthia (Documentation and History)” at Dhaka Art Centre in the city recently.
In the six-day exhibition, organised by Traditional Photo Gallery (TPG) in support with Prince Claus Fund, Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh Alphons JAJMG Hennekens was present as the chief guest, while eminent architect Prof Shamsul Wares was also present as special guest on the occasion.
Some rare 72 photographs in 36 frames those were taken by Babu Ahmed were put on display in the exhibition. The exhibition incorporates photographs of the 18th century buildings that are considered as some of the finest examples of buildings from the period.
While share his feelings to describe about the exhibition Babu Ahmed said, “I have been working with historical monuments and cultural heritage at home and abroad for nearly 20 years. This exhibition is a research-based work. My main vision is to let the world know about the heritage of Bengal, to make people conscious about what we have and with this intention as a team has been travelling across the country and also taking photos, collecting information, drawing sketches and planning ways to preserve the architectural landmarks. We have already captured on film nearly 60 per cent of these structures.”
Babu Ahmed has an MA in Bengali from the University of Dhaka. But he has established himself as a photographer with several books to his name that focus on Bangladesh’s historical sites, as the director of the TPG, which is a photo archive and research centre, his role in promoting the awareness about the need to conserve the fading architectural heritage, deserves recognition.
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