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The land of terracotta Temples

  • General Information

    District: Bankura, State: West Bengal, India
    Area: 6882 Sq. Km.
    Languages Spoken: Bengali, Hindi
    Long Distance Code: +91-3242
    Importance: Terracotta temples and the balucheri sarees
    Best Time to Visit: October to March
  • Description

    Although the headquarter of the district is Bankura the major inflow in this district is for Bishnupur. It was from here that the Malla kings ruled in the 16th century. Bengal has a tradition of terracotta temples due to the peculiar soil, but Bishnupur temples are the most striking of them all. Also, Bankura boasts of Shishunia hill, a peak rising abruptly from the neighbouring plains. The mountain is 440 meters high but is said to be older than the Himalayas.
  • Location

    The district of Bankura is locked from all the sides by other districts of West Bengal like the Puruliya, Medinipur, Hugli and Bardhaman. Out of the total area, 1,397 sq. km of the area of Bankura is covered with forest. Situated at a major road and rail junction, Bankura is to the north of Dhaleswari River, around 185 km from Calcutta.
BishnupurBishnupur was the seat of the Malla dynasty who ruled more than half the Bengal for 1000 years till the Muslim and the British invasion came along. The ruins of the reign are still found in Bishnupur. This peaceful small town is abundant with natural beauty and the most famous terracotta temples. The Legend goes that Beer Hambeer king of the Malla dynasty once asked to loot the priceless jewels that were to pass his town. But instead of jewels it had priceless Vaishnav texts. After reading them the king decided to devote himself to Lord Vishnu and became a Vaishnavite. The name of the town has its origin in the devotion of lord Vishnu. The history of this town dates back to 694 A.D. when the Malla dynasty was established, but the temples, nearly thirty of them were built in the 17th to 18th centuries only mostly by Beer Hambeer.\r\nThe temples are dedicated to Radha and Krishna and since stone wasn't easily available, royal architects and craftsmen had to get very inventive with the red laterite soil found here to please their kings. The result was one of the most beautiful cities in the world of its time. Along with the temples, nearly 30 of them, there are water tanks called Bunds and also a beautiful Ras Mancha built by King Hambeer which stands out from the rest for the structures. In fact, it's the only temple of its kind in India with only one chamber and the rest is just three arched galleries that run around the deity's room. \r\nThe architecture of this place is very peculiar and the most popular is the Jor Bangla or the joint bungalow. It is best described as Siamese huts stuck together at the centre and topped by a common head. A single spire rises from the middle of the sloping brick roofs that are shaped exactly like the thatched top of a humble domestic hut. Jor-Bangla's walls are exquisitely decorated with terracotta pannels that depict scenes from Mahabharata, Ramayana and Krishna Leela. All the other temples are also ornamented with various mythological scenes from the life of Vishnu and his incarnations. \r\nApart from the temples, Bishnupur, has given birth to the Bishnupur Gharana in Hindustani classical music. It is a distinctive style of music which is still followed and learned. Shopping for souvenirs in this quaint little town is but essential. Various articles made of terracotta including jewellery are exquisite. One of the most beautiful sarees of India, the Baluchari, are woven here, which, have mythological scenes from Ramayana and the Mahabharata embroidered on it. Last but not the least Bishnupur's sweets are very famous and tasty and one should leave the ancient town without them.
JhilimiliJhilimili is the total forest area free from wild animals, near the meeting point of three districts of West Bengal; namely Bankura, Purulia and Midnapur. Jhilimili means twinkle or sparkle and no doubt the place is just the way its name suggests. An overnight journey from Kolkata brings you to this place which is inhabited by the tribals and does not have much to see but to experience the beautiful natural and peaceful surroundings.