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Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD)
Just as the universe is contained in the self, so is India contained in the villages
- Mahatma Gandhi

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Maluti

Maluti village is known as the “temple village” as it has around 72 temples of intricate terracotta work belonging to the period between the 17th and the 19th century. 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 remaining ones are in various stages of decay. Maluti used to be inhabited in pre- historic times. This fact is corroborated by the discovery of certain pre- historic stone tools found in the river bed of Chila river, which is also called Chandan Ghat Nala. The river Chila is flowing at the southern edge of the village and marks the boundary of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The stone- tools found are hand- axes, scrappers and blades.

The architectural style of the temples is predominantly the regional Bengali style which flourished all over Bengal in that period. People offer daily worship in many temples in the form of flowers, incense burners etc. 20. The temples have intricate carvings depicting scenes from Mahabharta and Ramayana and the battle of Durga and Mahishasura. At some places social scenes are also depicted like tilling of land, worship in progress, sacrifice of goat etc. Some temples have inscriptions which help in reconstructing the history of the temples as well as the socio- politico scenario of the period. The inscriptions are in early Bengali script which is a mixture of Sanskrit, Prakrit and Bengali. The dates are generally mentioned as per “shaka” era.

Maluti village is surrounded by Adivasi (Santhals) villages from both Jharkhand and West Bengal. The village is oval shaped with a diameter of 700 metres on the wider side and 400 metres on the narrower side. The population of the village has been dwindling and is presently just a little above 3000. However, half of the population lives elsewhere in the country or abroad. Most of them come back during the Kalipuja (Diwali) time. The male female ration in the village is 52:48. The Rajas of Maluti were upper class Brahmins but the rest of the population consists of tribal Santhal population (Adivasis), harijans and other backward castes. Since the village is on the border of West Bengal the common language is Bengali and the people follow the customs, practices, and festivals of Bengal. However, most of the people understand and speak Hindi also.

There is no electricity in Maluti village. This is one of the major reasons for its backwardness. It has a very rudimentary village dispensary with a lone paramedic. The residents have to travel 16 km to Rampur Hat to get even any basic treatment. There is no system of waste disposal or piped water supply. The principal source of water for washing and irrigation is rain water ponds. Drinking water is obtained from hand pumps and tube wells. There is no system for purification of the water. However, the literacy rate is surprisingly high, with 90% of the population having at least basic education. A Middle School was set up in Maluti in 1875 but the number of students in this school has gone down drastically after Hindi was introduced as the medium of instruction some time back. The students go to the schools in nearby villages in West Bengal where Bengali is the first language. The nearest colleges are in Rampur Hat and Mallarpur.

At present Maluti remains quite isolated by and large from modern developmental activity. Conservation and development have to be very cautiously implemented in Maluti. ITRHD proposes to make appropriate efforts for sustainable development of the village without compromising its unique identity.

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