Maluti temples are a group of 72 terracotta temples located in the Maluti village near Shikaripara in Dumka District on the eastern part of the Indian state of Jharkhand. Initially, there were 108 temples clustered in a radius of just 350 metres. Out of these, 36 temples have crumbled to dust over passage of time.
The story of the king of this village is also strange. It is said that Sultan Alauddin Hasan Shah (1495-1525) gave this village in reward to Baj Basant Rai for saving his hawk and returning it to him. Consequently, Basanta was called Raja Baj Basanta. As Basanta was a religious person, he preferred building temples instead of palaces. Subsequently, his family divided into four clans and they continued to build the temples in Maluti, their capital, in clusters, inspired by goddess Mowlakshi, their family deity. The name Maluti is said to be derived from Mallahati, the Malla Kings of Bankura.
These temples were built by the descendants of King Baz Basant of the Nankar kingdom. The process of building the temple continued from 1840–1845.Now, 72 temples are in present, in which the number of ordinary and terracotta ornate Shiva temples are 58 and 4 Kali, Vishnu and Mauliksha temples. The temples are constructed with thin brick and lime-slurry.
The minimum height of the 15 feet temple and maximum height is up to 60 feet. The main terracotta panel has carvings of Ram-Ravana war images. Some attractive terracotta panels placed in the front walls of the temple has pictures of the stories of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The temples of Maluti are constructed of special shaped bricks.The width of the walls of these temples is about two feet. State patron SD Singh said that the architecture of Bengal has been used prominently in the temples of Maluti. Most of the temples are built by Chala method. Due to the sloping roof on four sides, it is called Char-Chala style. Most of the roofs of Maluti village are made of this style. The temple walls are covered with terracotta tiles, depicting the Ramayana and Mahabharata period as well as boating, gunfire, choreography.
The Goddess Mowlakshi Temple
Stone sculptures and plaques of temples are unique and rare evidence of ancient installation art. The Goddess Mowlakshi Temple is still considered a vibrant Shaktipeeth.
Maluti has direct connection with the famous Tantric Shaktipeeth Tarapeeth of West Bengal. The childhood of the great saint Bamakhepa is said to have begun with the service of Maa Mowlakshi, who later became associated with mother Tara. For this reason Maa Mowlakshi is also known as the elder sister of mother Tara.
Under the guidance of retired archaeologist Akhileshwar Prasad Srivastava of the Archaeological Survey of India, the temples of Maluti are being protected.
Skilled artisans of Rajmahal, Nalanda and Vaishali have been doing conservation work for almost a decade. The repair and the construction of new temples are being done by the architects of Ranchi, Arun Ranjan and Gopikant Mahato.
It is said that Project coordinator Chandan Kumar is overseeing the work and ITI HD President Padmabhushan Shashikant Mishra and Vice President Yogendra Narayan continue to supervise the Maluti temple.