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POST TIME: 6 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Sreebari Shiva Temple
M Mahmud Ali

Sreebari Shiva Temple

Since my childhood, I have had an enormous interest in exploring little-known places and establishments. The mysterious attraction of abandoned houses, palaces, temples and ancient buildings keeps on calling me. Today, the story I am going to tell is an enigmatic one.

In 1984, my father, an executive engineer of Bangladesh Power Development Board, was posted at Aricha Grid Maintenance Division, and we lived in a bungalow at Shivalaya in Manikganj for a few years.

I was a student of class-5 at Shivalaya Government Primary School then. Some of my Hindu classmates used to tell me stories about different temples they visited for worship.  One day, I came to know there was a large, old abandoned temple inside a jungle, where no one goes out of fear.

The temple was located just 1.5 km behind my school. My local friends claimed the temple and its surrounding area was haunted and left abandoned for many years. While listening to their story, I made up my mind to find the ‘haunted’ temple.

Soon, I started for the temple and, surprisingly, one of my friends accompanied me. When we reached the place, I was thrilled to find the huge abandoned temple near a large pond, surrounded by dense foliage. The whole area was dark, even in the daytime. We left the place without seeing anything ‘supernatural’, but the thrilling experience kept on haunting me year after year.

After three decades, the enigma of the abandoned temple led me back to the site. In December 2017, I made my second visit to the temple, now with an experienced and expert vision. The surrounding dense jungle was gone, cleared for human habitation.

I discovered the local name of the temple was ‘Sreebari Shiva Temple’. It is located at Sreebari village under Ghior upazila of Manikganj. It was built in 1847 by a local zamindar. At present, it is completely in a ruinous state. But I could still recognise its type and character. It is a pancha-ratna Shiva temple with stucco decoration.

I had discovered the temple at an early age, and its exploration remained the quest of a lifetime.

References: Late Mediaeval Temples of Bengal: Origins and Classification, David J McCutchion, Asiatic Society, Calcutta, 1972; Bangladesher Mandir, Ratan Lal Chakrabarti,

Bangla Academy, 1985.