Bishnupur is a town in the Bankura District of West Bengal about 132 km from Kolkata. It is famous for its terracotta temples and baluchari sarees. The town has a glorious past that is reflected in its rich architecture, music and handicrafts such as pottery and weaving. It prospered in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Ruled by a line of Hindu Rajas of the Malla dynasty, Bishnupur developed a unique form of architecture and has perhaps the most brilliant and detailed terracotta work in Eastern India that has withstood the ravages of time.
The history of Bishnupur can be traced back to 694 AD, when King Raghunath I founded the Malla dynasty. However it was much later in 994 AD that the place was named Bishnupur. The name is derived from the name of the Hindu God Ã¢ÂÂVishnu'. The majority of the people belong to the Ã¢ÂÂVaishnava' sect.
Bishnupur - Attractions & Activities
The Rashmancha pavilion used for housing the idols of Lord Krishna from other temples during the Rash festival was built in brick by King Veer Hambir in 1600 A.D. This is the oldest brick temple in Bishnupur and is shaped as an elongated pyramidal tower surrounded by hut-shaped turrets. The outermost gallery is elegantly surrounded by Bengal hut-type roofs.The floor is paved with bricks.The entire structure stands on high platform made up of laterite blocks. Good quality clay is locally available in plenty for making the bricks and terracotta plaques used in the construction of the temples and decorative images. To read more click here.
Jorebangla Temple of Keshto Rai
The Jore Bangla temple resembles two thatched huts joined together and surmounted by a single tower. This temple in brick was built by the Malla King Raghunath Singh in 1655.The structure was erected on one metre high platform using laterite bricks. The entire outer surface is decorated with terracotta plaques displaying various aspects of human life and culture, gods and goddesses, animals, floral and geometrical designs. To read more click here.
Pancha Ratna Temple of Shyam Rai
Built in 1643 AD by King Raguhnath Singha, Shyam Rai Temple has the most intricate sculptural details amongst all the Bishnupur temples. To read more click here.
The temple of Madanmohan, the best known in Bishnupur, in the Sankharipara area was built outside the fort compound by King Durjana Singh Dev, in 1694 AD for his family deities of Lord Krishna and Radha. Its rich decorations and designs surpass the Shyam Rai and Keshta Rai temples. There are impressive scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas carved on the temple walls. The temple is the best example in brick of Ratha or chariot style architecture with a single sikhara(tower) and a curve Bengali chala type roof. To read more click here.
Lalbandh, Krishnabandh & Pokabandh
Bishnupur has some attractive large tanks that offer good sightseeing. The Lalbandh, Krishnabandh and Pokabandh were built by the Malla kings around 17th and 18th centuries. These were made to provide water to the villagers and to protect the town from enemy attacj by draining out the water towards them.
The Poush Mela also known as the Bishnupur Mela is held every year around the last week of December, near the Madanmohan Temple. This fair stretches over four days and people from all the nearby villages come together to celebrate the end of the agricultural season. A recent addition is the Bishnupur Utsav, held immediately after the Mela. It is a classical music and dance festival in recognition of the Ã¢ÂÂBishnupur Gharana' in music.
Buy a Souvenir
One can buy terracotta articles and jewellery at Bishnupur. Large variety of Baluchari sarees are also available. Dokra metal craft articles are also lucrative gift items.