After going through the previous articles in this series (Part 1 and Part 2) , we hope all of us by now have a fair idea about the rich heritage that punctuates Bishnupur’s glorious past. Bishnupur, a kingdom which Sri Madana Mohana proclaims as His own and whose pious kings ruled only to serve the orders of Sri Guru and Gauranga, oozes with sacred tradition. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ shall try to present below, within our limited capacity, a brief sketch of the various magnificent temples (Bishnupur temples) and the beautiful traditions that adorn Bishnupur’s vibrant landscape.These three articles (Part 1,2 & 3) are our humble offerings to this beautiful holy city and we pray that she forever accepts us as one of her own.
(Title of the previous articles in the series –
The Glories of Bishnupur (the temple town of Bengal) – Part 1 :Srinivasa Acharya and Bir Hambir
The Glories of Bishnupur (the temple town of Bengal) – Part 2 :The Amazing Pastimes of Sri MadanaMohana )
Rich History of Bishnupur and its magnificent Temples
- Rasmancha : Established in the year 1600 AD by King Bir Hambir, Rasmancha is composed of laterite stone and bricks. This marvelous piece of architecture used to house all the Radha Krishna deities from in and around Bishnupur, during the Rasa festival. Till the year 1932 AD , Rasa festival was celebrated in Rasmancha with great pomp and show. The walls of Rasmancha are decorated with various images carved to depict the pastimes from Ramayana ,Mahabharata and the puranas. We have discussed in detail about this temple’s history in Part 1 of our series.
- Madanamohana temple: This temple was built by Malla King Durjana Singh in the year 1694 AD. Constructed with bricks and laterite stones,this temple is almost 11 metres in height about 12 meters in width.Please refer to the Part 2 of this article to relish the most amazing pastimes of Sri Madanamohana jiu. Sri Madanamohana is offered daily service here and all the festivals are celebrated with great pomp and show even today. We have discussed in detail about this temple’s history in Part 2 of our series.
- Shyam Rai temple: This is a terracota temple, built in the year 1643 AD, by King Raghunatha Singh. The temple is 11 metres in height and 11.5 meters in width. On the temple, is carved an inscription wherein it is mentioned that for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha and krishna, Raghunatha,the son of Bir Hambir, has constructed this temple in the Malla year 949 (The Mallas had their own calendar). The interior of this temple has carvings depicting the beautiful pastimes from the holy scriptures.
- Mrinmoyee Devi temple: The temple of devi Mrinmoyee (Maa durga) was constructed in the year 997 AD by king Sri Jagat Malla, after he had received divine instructions for the same. This temple has been constructed out of Ganges mud, and every year during Durga puja, on the occasion of Maha-ashtami, the festival commences by the firing of cannon shots. Maa Mrinmoyee is worshipped here as a devout vaishnavi, and unlike other places in bengal, only proper sattvic food is offered to her. She is worshipped according to the proper Vaishnava injunctions. Just behind this temple lies the ruins of the Royal palace.
- Radheshyam Temple : Malla King Sri Caitanya Singh had built this temple in the year 1758 AD. The temple is 11 meters in height and 12.5 meters in width. Like the other temples, it is constructed with laterite stones and bricks. The temple houses beautiful deities of Sri RadheShyam, Sri Sri Gour Nitai and Jagannatha jiu. There is a large room on the outer gates of the temple where previously music used to be played. Exquisite architecture graces the temple walls.
- Kalachand Temple: Constructed with Bricks and laterite stones ,this temple was built in the year 1656 AD by king Raghunatha Singh. The temple walls depict beautiful carvings from the epics and the puranas. The temple is surrounded with a beautiful garden bedecked with aromatic flowers.
- Dalmadal Cannon: Please refer to the part 2 of this article to relish the vivid pastimes that Sri Madana Mohana performed with this Dalmadal cannon. It is said that Sri Madana Mohana fired shots from this Dalmadal cannon to protect the city of Bishnupur from the hands of the Maratha dacoits (Bargis). The marathas were heavily defeated and routed in that war. The cannon was built under the rule of king Bir Hambir.In the year 1919 AD the British government placed this cannon on a raised dais, for the purpose of tourist attraction. The cannon ,which is about 4 meters in length, is constructed out of solid iron and weighs about 11.2 tons. (Image posted in Part 2 of the article)
- Madana Gopala temple: Srimati Churamani Devi, queen of King Bir Singha Dev,constructed this beautiful temple in the year 1665 AD. This temple is also made of laterite stones. Enchanting Sri Sri Radha Madana Gopala is daily served here with due diligence. All the major festivals like Rasa,Gaura Purnima, Rathayatra is celebrated over here with great pomp and show.
There are over a fifty temples scattered all over Bishnupur, and it is quite impossible to mention all of them here in this article. Most of them are made of bricks and laterite stones and stand tall even today to tell a tale of its glorious tradition. We have tried to mention some of them in this article and shall be posting below a few snaps (those we have not yet posted in part 1 and 2 of the article series) that we had taken, while visiting them. The Gaudiya Vaishnava past of Bishnupur is clearly visible, and the general practices such as offering of food to the deities before eating, chanting on beads, surrendering and depending upon the lord in all situations, wearing Tulasi neck beads and worshipping the tulasi plant widely exist here even today. ‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ consider itself greatly fortunate to have been a part of this pilgrimage. Wherever and in whatever situation we may be in future, Bishnupur shall forever reside in our hearts.
We worship the lotus feet of our spiritual master ,whose causeless mercy has empowered us ineligible fools ,to gain entrance and take up service in this exalted abode of Bishnupur. We seek shelter of this holy land, and pray that its glories remain forever imprinted in our heart.‘The Gaudiya Treasures of Bengal’ offers millions of obeisances and humbly prays to the devoted Malla Kings of Bishnupur that we advance in our Krishna consciousness, develop attachment unto the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga and are able to serve Sri Guru & Vaishnavas, by our honest and sincere efforts. We seek their blessings and compassion , in successfully rendering this humble service of reciting the pastimes and revealing the pastime places of the Supreme Lord and His beloved associates.We shall consider ourselves greatly fortunate and our existence meaningful if Lord Gaurahari and our dear spiritual master are kindly pleased with our endeavours.
How to Reach:
We took a train (Rupasi Bangla) from kolkata to directly reach the Bishnupur station. The journey takes around 3 hours and on reaching there , we rested for the night at the West Bengal Tourism Lodge. The lodge is beautifully decorated with fragrant trees. The rooms are very spacious as well.After completing our yatra, we boarded the same train , the next day evening, and left for kolkata. It is worthwhile ,acknowledging the assistance of Mr Biswajit Pramanik (+91 9474670110) , the local guide here in Bishnupur (also spelt as Vishnupur), who helped by taking us around the different places.
Accommodation – One can choose to avail the good facilities at the West Bengal Tourism Lodge here in Bishnupur.
Nearest major airport – Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport (Kolkata)
Nearest major Railway station – Bishnupur
(Please note that we neither necessarily recommend these hotels/accommodation centers mentioned above nor do we guarantee that they will provide the required facilities/services to the visiting pilgrims. We are not in any way related to the governance of these hotels/accommodation centers. The visiting pilgrim is advised to choose an accommodation as per his own discretion)