Home > Bengal Festival, Day Trips from Calcutta (Kolkata), General > Guptipara ~ Chariots & Temple

Guptipara ~ Chariots & Temple

In 2006 Pluto, the ninth planet of our solar system lost its status of a planet and was demoted to the status of a minor planet. Although Pluto lost its status as a planet it led to the addition of a new word in the English vocabulary. In January 2007 the new word of “Plutoed” meaning to “to demote or devalue someone or something” was added to the English Dictionary.

Guptipara Sweets

The stories of new words being added to the vocabulary of different languages in the world have always been interesting, but probably none of this can match the addition of the word “Borowari” in the Bengali vocabulary. “Barowari” means community, and is often used as “Borowari Durga Pujo” to signify a community Durga Pujo organized by collecting subscriptions from the members.

The word Borowari originated from Guptipara, in present day Hooghly. In 1761 (1790 by some other sources) some men were stopped from taking part in a household Durga Puja. Twelve of them formed a committee and organized the first Barowari (baro = twelve and yaar = friend) Durga Pujo. It was reported by the May 1820 issue of The Friends of India magazine, which was published from Srerampore. But sadly there are no concrete evidences of when the word “Barowari” made its entry into the Bengali dictionary.

Guptipara is a great place for Bengal sweet lovers. The most famous of these is the Gupo Sandesh, considered by many to be Bangal’s first branded sweet – meat. It is made of channa extracted from cow’s milk. Guptipara is also the birthplace of sweet maker Bhola Moira, who was famous not for sweet making skills but for his Kabi gaan (Folk Songs). The famous musical duel of Bhola Moira and the Anglo – Indian Antony Firingi, has been made immortal by Uttam Kumar’s movie Antony Firingi.

But today the primary attraction of Guptipara are its temples. Located in a single temple complex the four Vaishnava Temples.

Ramchandra Temple, Guptipara

  • Chaitanya
  • Brindabanchandra
  • Ramchandra
  • Krishnachandra Temples

offer an interesting mixture of Bengal temple architecture.

The temples were constructed in different periods with Chitanya temple being the oldest one. It was built by Bishwar Roy during mid sixteen century. Built in Jora – Bangla style the temple consists of two thatched hut shaped adjoining structure. The temple is said to contain some of Bengal’s earliest terracotta carvings but sadly they didn’t survive the test of time.

Brindabanchandra Temple, Guptipara

The 60 feet high Brindabanchandra Temple, built in 1810, dominates the temple complex. Although the aat – chala (eight sloped roof) temple lacks the terracotta work it is largely compensated by coloured fresco on both outer and inner the walls. The Brindabanchandra Temple is flanked on the right by Ramchandra Temple and on the left by Krishnachandra Temple.

The ek-ratna (one – pinnacled) Ramchandra Temple, was constructed in late eighteenth century by the king of Sheraphuli Harishchandra Roy, is the definitely the most elegant temple of the complex. The one storied temple crowned with an octagonal turret contains rich terracotta works on the front and southern walls of the ground floor and also on the walls of the turret. The temple contains rich teracotta works depicting war scene from Ramayana, royal processions, marine voyages and scenes from day to day life.

The Krishnachandra Temple was constructed in 1745 during the rule of Nawab Ali Vardi Khan and follows the aat – chala from of architecture. All four temples stand on elevated platforms and are inter – connected by narrow arched passageways.

Terracotta Panel of Royal Procession

Although Guptipara has the distinction of housing Bengal’s first Durga Pujo but Durga Pujo is not Guptipara’s primary festival. When it comes to festival in Guptipara the first thing that comes into mind is Guptipara’s towering and colorful chariot. Being a Vaishnav centre Rath Jaytra (Chariot Festival) is major festival and prime attraction.

Guptipara Rath

The Bridabamchandra Temple hoses the idol of Jaganath, Balaram & Subhadra. On the day of the Rath Jatra the idols are carried out by the towering rath (chariot) to another temple known as Masir Bari where it is kept for 7 days. After which the journey is retraced by the rath, known as ulto rath, and the idols are brought back to the Brindabanchandra Temple.

The gigantic nine pinnacled rath is decorated with coloured festoons and banners and is fitted with wooden horses and several wooden statues. The multi wheeled rath is pulled by four thick ropes, out which one is reserved for women. A rope at the back serves as a brake. The rath is pulled through muddy & slushy ground in a wild rampage and it seems a miracle that the event goes on with a stampede. The event is heavily monitored by the police who clear the crowed to make way for the rath.

Guptipara Rath

The seven day period between the rath and ulto rath is marked with a mela (fair). The mela is complete with marry go rounds and magic & circus shows, makeshift stalls sells household wares to decorative showpiece. Even today Vishnav singers perform reminding one of the glourious days of Bhola Moira & Antony Firingi. Last but not the least is the food stalls selling papad bhaja to hot jilipis. But the age old fairs is also going through the process of evolutions with egg rolls and chowmein being the most preferred food items while stunt bike rides are the new source of entertainment.

Today Guptipara is a town in the district of Hooghly in West Bengal. Located about 75 km from Calcutta, Guptipara has its own railway station on Bandel – Katwa rail line and is well connected from Howrah. A visit to Guptipara will definitely provide an insight into Bengal’s rich cultural and social life and also provide the opportunity to admire some of Bengal’s richest terracotta work.

Reference:

    • Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Naredrnath Bhattacharya
    • Next Weekend you can be at … Guptipara, The Telegraph March 26, 2006.
    • Next Weekend you can be at … Guptipara, The Telegraph Sept. 6, 2009.
    • Of Chariots, Temples and Folk Songs, Hindustan Times July 3, 2011.
    • Links from my Personal Web Page. Guptipara Travel, Guptipaara Rath, Guptipara Photo.

List of my Blog entry on West Bengal

  1. July 17, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    Just want to say your article is as surprising.
    The clarity in your post is simply great and i can assume you are an
    expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me
    to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  2. Indranil
    February 19, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    Hi,

    Can you kindly help me to get the lyrics of kabigaan songs of Bhola Moira, Haru Thakur and Antony Firingee?

    Thanks in advance.

    Regards

    • February 19, 2014 at 11:11 PM

      Thanks Indranil for your comment, but sorry I am unable to help you out.

      • Sujit Mukherjee
        November 25, 2014 at 1:19 PM

        ABOUT GUPTIPARA PLZ CONTRACT WITH ME 9732272182 (SUJIT MUKHERJEE)

  3. September 17, 2014 at 11:24 PM

    I am very tempted to see this place on my next visit to Kolkata. Please let me know if I can complete Guptipara and Kalna on the same day since they are nearby. Please also let me know of the temple timings. Do you suggest that we hire a rickshaw around the place or should I just walk around.

    • September 18, 2014 at 10:35 PM

      Dear Sangeeta, both Kalna and Guptipara can be easily covered in a day. Start with Kalna, as it has more temples, a rickshaw is the best bet. Have your lunch in Kalna at Hotel Priyadarshini, the only decent hotel in the area.

      Keep Guptipara for the post lunch session, you can get buses for Guptipra from Kalna, there is only one temple complex in Guptipara so it wouldn’t take much time.

      The temple complex are open throughout the day, but sometimes the temples are closed in the afternoon hours, if yopu are not planning to offer puja, it won’t be a problem.

      For more details drop me a mail.

      • September 19, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Thank You Rangan. This is great information. Wanted to see some place where they are making Bengal Tant. Is there something in Kalna or do I need to cross the river and go to Shantipur?

  4. indrani chakraborty
    October 8, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    we are planning to visit kalna &guptipara very soon. can tell me how to reach those places by road ?

  5. Raja Banerjee
    December 19, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    In the circuit of Bansberia/Sabuj Dweep/Guptipara etc.Now a moderate resort named “BHAGIRATHIR TIRE “at Sukharia near Sabuj Dweep is under construction.It is likely to be operational by Puja 2015.

  6. July 6, 2016 at 4:01 PM

    Learnt a lot from this article. Thank you sir.

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