“A horde of gigantic spiders are fabled as the guardians of the holy chandan trees, a favourite of Kalachand or Lord Krishna.”
Road trips are fun and when these road trips are planned to escape the urban hustle-bustle, it indeed is a welcome relief. A corporate journalist, blogger and travel enthusiast, life is pretty hectic. What better way to spend a relaxing weekend than visit the outskirts of the city: Bishnupur – The land of temples.
Etymologically speaking, the place gets its name from the belief of Vaishnavism, practiced by the then rulers of the land. Hence, the land is known as the city of Lord Vishnu or Mallabhum because it was ruled by the Mallas. Famous for terracotta temples and handicrafts, I was all excited to explore this heritage city.
The panoramic road trip was an absolute feast for the eyes. Fresh air mingled with the rustic essence, the green foliage and the long thoroughfare was absolutely rejuvenating. My brother undertook the role of being the official DJ for the day and churned out some real quirky numbers. Before we entered Bishnupur, we found occasional terracotta pillars bearing the signs of Welcome to the city and specifying the number of kilometers ahead of us.
Our 1st stop was the Madan Mohan Temple. The temple structure was simple and nothing like the ancient Hindu temples with the traditional: Bhogmandap, Natmandir and Garbhagriha. It was rather rectangular in structure with wide corridors and the inner sanctum where the deity was present. The intricate sculpture on terracotta tiles majorly bore pictorial depiction of scenes from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. A pall of tranquillity created an environment of piety. An occasional cooing of the cuckoo or the fluttering of a pigeon from one of the turrets added to the beauty of the place.
Next we went to the Rashmancha. Another beautiful depiction of the Malla architecture, this art form flourished in between the 15th to 16th Century. The abundant use of terracotta tiles in temple building was due to the wide availability of alluvial clay in the fertile land of Bengal. Terracotta is burnt clay and was initially used in the manufacture of utensils and monuments. This type material replaced the use of stones that was prevalent in the older Hindu temples. The Rashmancha is set amidst a well maintained garden. The temple is built on a high rise rectangular structure made of bricks. It is one storied with a wide courtyard on all four sides. Multifaceted octagonal pillars line the threshold forming dome shaped entrance gateways to the inner hall, the latter being inspired by the Islamic form of architecture.
The Kalachand Temple was spread on a large plot of land with a very beautiful entrance. The lawn was graveled with lush green flora on two sides of the path. The sidewalk on the entrance pathway was lined with miniature terracotta temples. The premises had a number of small temples with the Kalachand temple being the main attraction. It was made up of laterite stones plastered with stucco. The flora consisted mainly of chandan and mango trees that filled the air with a sweet intoxicating chandan wood fragrance mixed with the aroma of ripe mangoes. Another striking feature of the area was the scary spider webs neatly woven by a native specie of spiders. These are found on the chandan trees. A horde of gigantic spiders are fabled as the guardians of the holy chandan trees, a favourite of Kalachand or Lord Krishna.
The other temples that were part of the trip were the Kesta-Raya Temple, that had a roof in the pattern of a hut; the Shyamrai Temple, the Chinnamasta Kali Temple.
Outside all of these temples were shops lined selling terracotta handicrafts. There were goods of all kinds from crockery to figurines, jewellery to tall terracotta horses that is the most prized sculpture and is worshipped in those parts. The handicrafts spelled out the sheer craftsmanship of the Bankura people. We bought a number of items and had a real difficult time to select what to take and what not out of the beautiful crafts on display. With that we concluded our Bishnupur trip and returned with happy hearts loaded with memories that I couldn’t miss a chance to share with you all.
– Happy Tripping, Happy Blogging.