I remember from my childhood memories, my father bringing in a pair of huge terracotta horses, which was placed in one corner of our living room as a show piece (a very common scene in maximum of the Bengali Households). I remember asking him – “where did u get them from?”….to which he replied with great enthusiasm about a local fair and the origin of these terracotta horses, which is Bishnupur….
Bishnupur – “City of Vishnu”, which it means literally, is almost 152km away from Kolkata. It was in its ancient times known as Mallabhum and was ruled by Malla Kings, who were great devotees of Lord Krishna and patrons of music – hence the name Bishnupur or Vishnupur.
It is best known for its Terracotta Temples, Malla Shree Krishna Rashlila, Baluchari Sarees & Bishnupur Gharana of Music (follows Dhrupad tradition).
It’s a very small town and can be explored easily in a day and that’s what I actually wanted. This August, I visited Kolkata to meet my father and was wondering for a day trip somewhere with him, when over a cup of tea we remembered Bishnupur, and got it set for the next day.
[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Bricked Corridor of Rasamancha[/caption]Bishnupur is well connected via road and train from Kolkata, you can simply hire a car for the day and get life sorted or else if you would like to be more adventurous then board an ac bus from esplanade or you need to book a ticket for train.
Well we reached their via train and booked an auto to show us around. I must say I found a good guide in him. So we started our tour first having a good breakfast followed by tea and then off to the famous Rasmancha – it is the oldest brick temple and the only temple of its kind….you find all these bricked walled corridors from every angle you see, epicentre to a garbagrigha.
[caption id="attachment_422" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Shyamrai Temple[/caption]Next was Shyamrai Temple which was built by the Malla Kings and is well known for its elaborate terracotta ornamentation. It has very interesting decorative panels which narrates contemporary socio-religious themes and the then political and economic life of the people. It also includes scenes and tales from Ramayana, Mahabharata and other puranic stories. The famous decorative panel which needs to be mentioned is the ‘Rasamandala’…you just can’t take your eyes off it for its superb appeal.
[caption id="attachment_431" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Rich Ornamentation as seen on the Temple pillars[/caption][caption id="attachment_432" align="alignnone" width="2919"] Rasamandala Ornamentation[/caption]Then the Jor Bangla Temple, which is known for its ‘Pair of Hut’ shaped structure with sloping roof joined together. The terracotta ornamentation depicts scenes from epics like krishnalila, hunting scene. This temple is also known as Kestaray Temple.
[caption id="attachment_425" align="alignnone" width="4032"] Jor Bangla Temple[/caption]There are various other temples like Nandalal temple, kalachand temple, Lalaji temple, Madanmohan temple which are not to be missed and depicts tales from purans and tales of Mahabharata & Ramayana. No worship happens now though but the feeling of devotion still remains.
[caption id="attachment_426" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Nandalal Temple[/caption]As you come out from each temple you find all terracotta stuffs….that pair of horse, jewellery, miniature ektaras and also ‘gamchas’ of good quality. I guarantee you best buy.
[caption id="attachment_424" align="alignnone" width="768"] Miniature Terracotta Horses[/caption][caption id="attachment_423" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Miniature Ektara[/caption]Dalmandal canon one of the largest canon during the Malla kings is also very eye catchy.
Our tour ends up with visit to ‘Tati’ or the weaver’s house which was such a feel good moment, when you get to see all the silk threads getting weaved into colourful 6 yards of Baluchari or Sharnachari sarees. And what do a Bong women want more….me and my love for saree went to a different level…I felt I am almost behaving like a psyco to choose which one to buy.
[caption id="attachment_428" align="alignnone" width="3024"] Making of a Sarnachuri Saree[/caption]
For food you don’t get much options or restaurants but yes I remember that Monalisa Hotel which which was a savior from hunger. Posto bora is also recommended.
Happy me went back home with all the Terracotta memories captured some in lenses some which stays in eyes some pieces of Terracotta jewellery, miniature ektara and a sarnachuri saree.