Shri 1008 Digambar Jain Atishay Kshetra, Pakbira (Puruliya)
Village -Pakbira, Sub District -Puncha, District -Puruliya, West Bengal
Nearby Main Cities: Puncha 3km, Puruliya 55km, Kolkata 320km.
This kshetra is located in the Purulia district in the state of West Bengal. Purulia had always been a centre of rich art and culture for centuries. According to Kalpasutra, Tirthankar Mahavir had also visited this place in the 6th century BC.
Jainism had always been a prominent faith in this part which had seen many ups and down in the history. In the year 1078 when King Anantavarman took over, Jainism received a royal patronage. Many temples were built with Lord Parsvanath and Mahavir as the principal idol.
Unfortunately the kings to follow him inclined towards the Brahmin faith and many of the Jain temples were converted into Hindu temples of Lord Shiva and Vishnu.
At some places attempts were made to modify the images and as a result deformation of several idols took place. With the withdrawal of the royal patronage, these temples lost their glory and no one came to look after them.
Many of them turned into ruins and others are waiting for the same fate. The most unfortunate incident took place in 1950 when a whole area called Telkupi was submerged in a newly constructed dam without allowing any scope for documentation or translocation. Telkupi was a major settlement for temples and artefacts dating back to 9th century.
More than 50 Digambar Jain Idols have been unearthed from here dating back to 8th-12th Century. This place was discovered by British in 1980, which followed exploration of the area. Ruins of 24 Digambar Jain temples can be found! Three of these temples still stand giving a glimpse of past.
Most of the idols have been moved to close by Digambar Jain temples like Lakhada, Bhaskar Danga, Barahmasia, Sheetalpur, Anaijamabad, Bhangada. A 8.5 feel Padmaprabhu idol is held by non-jain locals and worshiped as ‘Bhairavnath‘.
It has been the initiative and continuous efforts of Updhyayshiromani Gyansagar Maharaji that the entire Kshetra has got attention and is being maintained. Shri Sameed Shikharji is 180 km from here, and people visiting Shikharji can add this place to their pilgrimage. Its not only worth visiting, but our regular visits will keep the rich heritage alive.
Reference: With inputs and pictures courtsey Chintu Dutta,
Associate teacher and amateur photographer,
Anai Jambad High School, Purulia WB.