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From Rasmancha we went to the Madan Mohan Temple. The terracotta architecture of this temple is simply outstanding. I wonder how much effort, dedication and time the artisans have devoted to create such a beautiful masterpiece. The designs depicts the different stories of Lord Krishna, Rama or the story of the present Bengal.
From the Madan Mohan temple we went to Lalji Temple. On the way to the Radha Lalji Temple we came across the Stone Chariot. It's a small structure beautifully curved out of rocks. Radha Lalji Temple is another temple dedicated to lord Krishna & Radha. It is considered as the finest laterite stone temple in Bishnupur. Unfortunately the gate was closed so we were not able to enter the temple premise. Our next stop was Mrinmayee Temple.
On the way to Mrinmayee Temple we came across two stone gateways. The larger of the two gateways is known as the Pathar Darwaja (Stone Door) as it is built of laterite stone. This gate once served as the northern entrance of the Royal residence and was built in the second half of the 17th century by Maharaja Bir Singha.
Since we had 2 & half days, on day one we planned for the temple trip except Chinnamasta and Dalmadal cannon. It took us around 2 hours to complete the points. We started with Rasmancha.
Rasmancha is a unique pyramidal structure made of bricks and terracotta work. It was built by King Vir Hamvir, one of the kings of the Mall Dynasty in 1600 AD. That time our present day cement was not available, so brick mortar mixed with lime and water was used as cementing factor to construct this structure. Rasmancha used to be of great significance during the annual Ras Mela. All the Radha Krishna idols of Bishnupur town used to be brought here to be worshipped by the citizens. The monument was also used to stage dances every evening to celebrate scenes from the Krishna Leela. This festival was held till 1932 after which it was stopped.
At present it is under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and hence there is an entry fee of Rs 5/person. But here you have to pay Rs 15 as it contains the gate pass for Jor Bangla (Kesto Rai) Temple and Shyam Rai Temple.
In between the sight seen we had our lunch from Monalisa Restaurant. Our lodge manager suggested that it's a good restaurant with variations in the menu, so we though of having something light from there. But unfortunately it turned out to be a typical Bengali restaurant, serving good Bengali food at decent price. Though I am a Bengali I am not that fascinated towards "Mach-Bhat" (fish & rice), but I liked the Posto-r Bora here, it was yumm.
If you are availing train from Kolkata, don't forget to try the puri sabji and garam chai in earthen pots at Kharagpur railway station.
There was a small fare "Shravan Mela" going on near the Bishnupur Bus Stand. In the evening we went there. From there we went to the Chawk Bazar. It is a market place where you will find all the daily necessities. There is a lake, Poka Bandh in the Chawk Bazar area. The most convenient way to reach Chawk Bazar is on rickshaw. There are a couple of restaurants and roadside joints serving snacks. Among those Lassi Center is worth mentioning. They have a decent menu; pakodas, sandwitches, chow mein etc. This ends our day one's adventure. Since only two points were left we planned to go to Susunia next morning.
Bihnupur is famous for terracota horses. On the way to the mandir you will find a number of shops selling terracota, dokra and wooden showpieces. Even if you are not a shopaholic, you can take some small showpieces, especially horses, as a souvenir as it is the logo of All India Handicrafts.
Finally got a 3 days weekend to cherish! This year since 15th August was on Monday, I doubt how many of us have stayed back at home just to relax. Staying back at home on this 3 days weekend is really a challenge for people like us who are expected to be on toes for work & family even on weekends. So we planned for some place which is near to Kolkata and will give me food for my blog. We shortlisted a couple of places, among which finally selected Bishnupur.
Bishnupur is a small town in the Bankura district of West Bengal. It was the kingdom of Mallabhum dynasty and is famous for its Terracotta (baked earth) and stone work. The king and his decendants were devotees of Lord Vishnu, so most of the temples are of Lord Krishna. Even the name Bishnupur (Vishnupur) has been derived from the name of Lord Vishnu. Apart from temples there are water bodies popularly known as Bandhs, Hills, and markets to quench or thirst of shopping sarees, terracotta and wooden items.
Incredible India : Bishnupur - The Town of Terracotta Temples
Bishnupur is famous for silk sarees specially the handcrafted Balucharies.There are a couple of showrooms with in-house Tant where you can see craftsmen working. I was fascinated to see people making intricate designs with zari, and silk thread only by moving their fingers. On the way to the Chinnamasta temple there are two showrooms, there is one near Lal Bandh as well. I already have 2 Baluchari sarees but the quality and designs of the ones available here are really good. I bought a couple of sarees and show pieces. So in case you are interested in buying any please contact me at +91 9953504289 or drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishnupur is a small town so the local signseen can be covered in a day. So a 2N/3D tour is good enough to cover Bishunupur and other nearby places. On the 1st day, after checking in to the lodge we took a TOTO for Rs 300 and went for the tour. You may also opt for rickshaw or auto-rickshaw or a cab for sight-seen.
As part of sight seen the follwoing points were covered:
1. Rasmancha, 2. Madan Mohan Temple, 3. Shyam Rai Temple, 4. Jor Bangla Temple, 5. Radha Laljiu Temple, 6. Mrinmoyee Temple, 7. Gum Ghar, 8. Stone Chariot, 9. Stone Gateway, 10. Dol Madal Cannon, 11. Chinnmasta Temple, 12. Lal Bandh and Sarba Mangala Temple, 13. Radhashyam Temple
The Shyamrai Temple is popularly known as the Pachratna brick temple because of its five pinnacles. Like other temple the walls of the temple depict exquisite work of terracota ornamentation. The decorative panels are interesting to narrate the contemporary socio-economic condition of the people. It also includes scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata, other puranic stories, animals etc. The Ras Chakra and love making scenes of Radha – Krishna are the most sort after terracotta panels of this temple.
From here we left for the Lal Bandh. Before reaching Lal Bandh I had a notion that there will be some dam, but actually is a big water body. In Bishnupur there are 7 such bandhs, Lal Bandh is the most famous among those. There is a temple Sarba Mangala Temple just adjacent to the Lal Bandh.
This lake got it's name from Lal Bai, a Muslim dancer who had a relationship with the Malla king Raghunath Singh II. As per the locals, the couple was murdered by the queen and the ministers and drowned in the lake. It is said that the cries of Raghunath Singh II and his mistress Lal Bai can still be heard. Not sure whether it is haunted or not, but the area surrounding the lake is a bit secluded, so it's better not to stay there late evening.
Mata Chinnamasta is one of the most famous and lively Deities in Bishnupur. The temple is around 100 years old. This temple lies on the way to the Jor-Mandir group of Temples via the Dalmadal Cannon. As per the Hindu Mythology Chinnamasta is one of the Mahavidyas, ten Tantric goddesses and a ferocious aspect of Devi. The nude self-decapitated goddess, usually standing or seated on a copulating couple, holds her own severed head in one hand, a scimitar in another. Three jets of blood spurtout of her bleeding neck and are drunk by her severed head and two attendants Dakini and Shakini. It is said that Maa Chinnamasta fulfills all her devotees' wishes. There are two stalls outside the temple premises selling puja items. Since that day it was quite late, next day morning we did the puja rituals. Taking pictures is prohibited inside the temple. So the above picture is taken from a photo.
On the way back to the hotel we saw the Dalmadal Cannon. It was the largest cannon manufactured by the Malla King. It is said that Madanmohan, the tutelary deity of the Malla kings, used this cannon again the Maratha invaders.
On the way to the top you might have to encounter with monkeys. So be careful with your belongings. Also avoid going near the bushes; snakes might be there.
Susunia is also famous for the hot water spring. The 'oldest' rock inscription of West Bengal is located here. There is an ancient carved monolith (Narasingha stone) standing at the point where the spring water is coming out of another stone. There is a Kali Mata temple and Shiv temple adjacent to the hot water spring. So if you want you can take a bath in the holy water and offer puja.
Susunia is also famous for stone carving and dokra art. There are many stalls at the foothill where you will find stone sculptures. Compared to other places the price here is reasonable but there is no harm in bargaining.
Puri Sabji at Kharagpur railway station
From Susunia we came to the tourist lodge. The room was spacious, with good garden view. There was a restaurant and a bar in the hotel premise. But in case you want to order anything special for lunch or dinner you have to inform them before hand.
Chinnamasta temple, Dalmadal cannon and Rasmancha are at walking distances from the tourist lodge.
Just opposite to the Mrinmayee temple is the Radhashyam Temple. It is one of the temple Ekratna temple and is built of laterite stone and contains lime stone stucco decoration. Next to the Radhashyam Temple is the Kesto Rai or Jor Bangla Temple. Both the exterior and interior walls and ceiling of the temple depict exquisite work of terracota ornamentation. These terracota panels narrate scnenes from Puranas, Epics, Krishnalila, hunting etc. The excellent quality of art on this temple endows it as one of the finest terracota temples of West Bengal.
Our next destination was Shyamrai Temple. On the way to it is the Gumghar. It is a massive brick structure which was used by the kings for life imprisonment.
Finally our trip came to an end. Before I finish I would like to mention few points:
1. Bishnupur can be covered easily in 2 days. So if you have one more day you can consider Mukutmanipur in your itinerary.
2. Do carry some cash or your debit card because credit card may not work everywhere. However luckily the saree showrooms accept credit card.
3. Assuming you are going from Kolkata by train, on an average a 2N/3D trip to Bishnupur will cost Rs 6000-8000 (approx , excluding shopping) for 2 people.
4. If visiting in months other than Nov-Mar, carry shades, sunscreen, umbrella to save yourself from Sun.
5. Among foods try Posto Bora in Bishnupur. If you are travelling by train from Kolkata, try Puri Sabzi at Kharagpur railway station.
6. Do carry a pair of sneakers in case you plan for Susunia.
7. In case you are planning to go during the winters, just check if you can manage to see the Santhali dance. Every year from 23rd to 27th December there is a fare "Bishnupur Mela". So try to cover that also.
Madan Mohan Temple
From Left: Stone, Wooden and Dokra Sculptures
Susunia is a hill around 70 Km far from Bishnupur. We took a cab for this trip. Since we were only 2 people we opted for an AC hatchback. It costed us Rs 2000. In case, like us, you are travelling to Bishnupur during summer or rainy season, it's better to start early otherwise you will surely get badly tanned.
This place is famous for its natural hot water spring, beauty and its rich reserves of medicinal plant. It is also a rock climbing center; so ladies, if you want to get a good view of the surrounding area, you have to climb the rock, and for that you have to avoid sandals and heels. The hills are steep and the boulders are loose so one needs to have good grip to climb the way up to the top. It takes around 2 hours to climb the entire hill, but no need to worry, there are few stalls at intervals to fuel you up. However, they charge premium for that, a single bottle of 300 ML cold drink might cost you 50 bucks.
The Mrinmayee Temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. It was constructed in AD 997. The idol of the temple is made of Ganga clay. Durga Puja which is observed every year in this temple is over 1000 years old. There is a cannon in the temple which is fired on Maha Astami. The youth of Mahadanda Community takes the Canon to the “Mochchha Hill”, just adjacent to the Pathar Darwaja.The canon is fired during the moment of Sandishan.
Bishnupur is in the red soil zone and is very near to Tropic of Cancer. Though we visited during this monsoon, the best time to visit is Nov-Mar. Bishnupur is well connected from Kolkata; you may reach there by train (201 km) or by road (155 km). On an average it takes 3-4 hours to reach there. We availed Rupashi Bangla Express. At Bishupur there are couple of hotels and lodges for stay, among which I felt the Bishunpur Tourist Lodge of West Bengal Tourism is the best option. Apart from the tourist lodge there are other decent stays like Hotel Laxmi Park, Udayan Lodge etc. Since we booked at the 11th hour there was no room available in any of these hotels. So we booked a room in Pritam Lodge which is near the railway station. The room was ok, kind of somehow stayable but they don't have option of restaurant, TV. Luckily for the 2nd day we got a room in the tourist lodge.
So in case you have the option to plan your trip properly and looking for a decent, comfortable and reasonable stay, it's better you book the hotels at least a couple of weeks before your journey date.