“AN INTRODUCTION OF BENGAL TEMPLES THROUGH THE LENS” is a mammoth effort to display little known things about Bengal temples through more than sixteen hundred well taken photographs. This is not a reference book; neither does the author claim that it is a scholarly study. This is a photographic guide meant for the lay public who travel far and wide to visit temples.
The primary thing that attracts our vision when we look at a temple, apart from the size, is its shape. Shape of a temple determines its type (like Nagara, Dravida or Besara) or subtype (like Odishi or Bengal types). This book deals with Bengal temples and its subtypes like Chala, Ratna, Dalan or mixed varieties.
After knowing the type of a temple, the next thing is to look for the decorations in the temple. A temple is decorated for several purposes --- for beautification; for appeasement of gods; for education of the devotees coming to the temple on various subjects ranging from religious texts, mythologies, epics , social customs and even sex; for recording contemporary events and customs etc.
So, a temple can be compared with a book, a sort of encyclopaedia, ready to be read by anyone who dares to do that. Even like the chapters of an encyclopedia, different portions of the temple bears different subjects displayed as decorations, and these are not haphazard, but strictly follow a standard pattern. For example, social events are depicted in the lowermost part, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata in the upper central part, the Dashavatars (Ten Incarnations) of Lord Vishnu in the uppermost part of the front façade etc.
Common people go to temples mainly for offering Puja, and as a byproduct, they see the beauty of the temple, without knowing what the temple has to offer to a keen visitor. This book, through its more than sixteen hundred photos, all taken by the author, will actually show them what’s there in a temple to see.