400 Year old medieval Kali Mandir at Sundarban in Bangladesh


Sangram Datta:

The Shekher Tek Kali Temple is one of the few architectural remains that still reminds one of the half-forgotten history of human settlements in the Sundarbans during the Middle Ages.

The medieval temple, believed to be built in the 16th century by Raja Pratapaditya, zamindar of Jashore and one of the Bara Bhuiyans of Bengal, is currently accessible only to some locals and forest department officials due to its remote location.

However, the forest department is building an ecotourism centre around the historical structure to make it accessible to tourists.

Dr Abu Naser Mohsin, divisional forest officer, West Forest Division, Sundarbans, said, "The construction work of the Shekher Tek Ecotourism Centre is almost done. We have already started permitting tourists to visit there on a limited basis. After the official opening, it will be fully opened for tourists."

Officials said the temple is located on the east bank of the Shibsa River in the Khulna Range of the West Forest Division, Sundarbans.

Ruins of different medieval structures, including brick walls, could be seen in the Shekher Tek area. Among them only the Kali temple survives now as a standing structure, they said.

According to the Forest Department, currently, there are seven tourist centres in the Sundarbans in Karamjal, Herbaria, Katka, Kachikhali, Dublar Char, Hiran Point and Kalagashi areas. About 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh tourists visit these areas every year.

In 2021, the authorities started building four more tourist centres in Shekher Tek, Kalabagi, Alibandha and Andharmanik at a cost of around Tk24.95 crore.

Officials said among the four new tourism centres the Shekher Tek Ecotourism Centre has been getting prominence due to its historical significance.

The authorities have constructed a 1.25 km concrete foot trail from the Shekher Tek Canal to the temple. Besides, a watch tower has been constructed for tourists to observe the forest from a height. Several brick roads have also been constructed at some places in the forest.

Forest guards said that as the Shekher Tek area is slightly higher than other parts of the forest, the number of tigers here is also high. But the tigers are getting disturbed due to the construction of the ecotourism centre.

Deepak Kumar Dey, a forest guard, said, "We have observed that the tigers here are in a furious mood due to the noise of the construction work. We see new footprints of tigers every morning here."

Experts say the forest department did not conduct any study before constructing the ecotourism centre. As a result, it could hamper the normal life of wild animals, including tigers.

Dr Waliul Islam, professor of Forestry and Wood Discipline at Khulna University, told The Business Standard, "A lot of trees have already been cut down to construct concrete foot trails there. The authorities should have built the tourist centre in balance with the environment."

"The forest department should send tourists there only in a limited range. It is not right to destroy the environment of the forest or to hurt the tigers for tourism," he added.

Post a Comment