— Satyasri Ukil
The villages of Bankati (or, Bonkati) and Ajodhya are situated at the periphery of an ancient Sal (Shorea robusta) forest on the south bank of river Ajoy in the district of Barddhaman, West Bengal. If one is travelling from Bolpur-Santiniketan in the adjacent district of Birbhum, then at Illambazar one crosses Ajoy to hit a point on the highway popularly known as “Egaro Mile”(11th mile, in English), and there takes a right turn to the twin villages of Bankati and Ajodhya.
— Angela Latham
Angela Latham, the author of this sensitive little write-up on brick temples of Bengal, was an artist herself, and wife of noted musicologist and critic Peter Latham. She was at Santiniketan in late 1940s, and visited the village of Surul with Mukul Dey where he was photo-documenting the temples then. Angela’s write-up was published in Art and Letters (The Journal of the Royal India, Pakistan & Ceylon Society), vol. XXV, No. 2, in 1951. In her article, Angela Latham notes the architectural similarity of these terracotta shrines with the traditional mud houses of rural Bengal. She also appreciates the photo-documentation of the temples by Mukul Dey.
— Satyasri Ukil
One of my earliest childhood memories is the image of burly Mukul Dey, in long johns and apron, drenched in the mellow glow of his darkroom safelights. The part of our family house Chitralekha in Santiniketan where his photographic darkroom was located is dilapidated now, covered with a thick green layer of moss and creepers. Once upon a time, this was a place of great fascination for us youngsters‚ with its bottles and jars of chemicals, trays, tongs and timer—a place that magically came to life under the red-orange spell of those safelights.
— Mukul Dey
Reprinted from Illustrated Weekly of India, November 25, 1951.
Folk arts and handicrafts occupied a conspicuous position in our national life in bygone days, and were centered mainly in rural areas, where they flourished for many centuries. The advent of the machine age changed the picture. The decay of rural life and culture set in with alarming rapidity. Indigenous arts and crafts fell into neglect and artisans had to migrate to cities in search of employment. By the end of the 19th century, folk arts and handicrafts almost vanished from Bengal.