Maluti (also known as Malooti) is a small village near Shikaripara in Dumka District of Jharkhand, India. The village came into the limelight in the 15th century, as the capital of “Nankar Raj” (tax-free kingdom). The kingdom was awarded to one Basanta Roy, of village Katigram, by Sultan Alauddin Hussan Shah of Gaura (1495-1525).
Basanta was the son of a poor Brahmin and he ha managed to catch the pet hawk of the Sultan and gave it back to him. In lieu of the hawk, Basanta was given the kingdom. Hence, Basanta was called Raja Raj Basanta. The capital of Raja Raj Basants Dynasty was in Damra. Later, it was shifted to Maluti.
The Royal family was very pious. The name Raj Basanta is comparatively prominent, because it can be found both in local history and government records. Swamiji, the head of Sumeru Math, Varanasi, was the preceptor of Basanta. Since then, the head of Sumeru Math, who is called Rajguru, becomes the preceptor of the descendents of King Raj Basanta.
How Maluti — the capital of Raja Raj Basanta Dynasty —– turned out to be a Temple City is a very interesting story. Instead of constructing palaces, the Rajas built temples. The dynasty was broken into parts (tarafs), but each ‘taraf’ kept building temples, competing with the others. In the end, it turned out to be a UNIQUE TEMPLE CITY. Inscriptions in Proto-Bengali, on the temples, show they were named after women.
Around 1857, Swami Bamdev (or Bamakhyapa), one of Bengal’s greatest spiritual leaders, came here to be a priest, but failed, because he couldn’t memorise Sanskrit Mantras. He was made to cook food for the puja. During his 18-month stay in Maluti. Bamdev used to spend most of his time at Mauliskshya Temple. Here, he was first blessed. The, he moved to Tarapith. His trident is still preserved at Maluti .
Maluti —— known as Gupta Kashi in ancient times —— is found as early as the Sunga Dynasty (185BC-75BC) , whose founder was Pushyamitra Shunga (185BC-151BC). It was at Maluti that the King of Pataliputra performed “Ashvamedh Yajna”. Later, Vajrayani Buddhists, followers of Tantrik rituals, settled here. So, Mauliksha Maa is the most ancient idol in Maluti.
Some pre-historic stone tools, found in the riverbed of Chila, confirm that Maluti used to be inhabited by our pre-historic forefathers, though the area was never excavated. The River Chila is flowing at the edge of the village and marks the boundary of Jharkhand and West Bengal. The river originated from Banspahari, a highland in the Dumka District. Stone tools and primitive weapons are found in the riverbed at different places.
The stone tools found in the area are hand-axes, scrappers and blades. Plenty of waste materials are also found scattered everywhere on the riverbed.
Today, an important priority Maluti is accommodating 72 ancient temples. It is alleged that the King originally constructed 108 temples, but later generations could not maintain such a huge number of monuments, and most were left uncared for. With the passing of time, as many as 36 monuments deteriorated and finally, crumbled completely.
With regard to the temples’ architecture, it is noticed that the existing temples —– no particular style like Nagara, Vesar or Dravida —– have been followed. The specialist artisans, who were obviously from Bengal, had given shape to numerous designs while constructing these temples.
In a 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, Global Heritage Fund identified Maluti’s Temples as one of 12 Worldwide Sites nearest (On the Verge) of irreparable loss and damage, citing insufficient management as primary cause.