Home > Bengal History, Bengal Terracotta Architecture, General > Halisahar and Kanchrapara, Temples and Pilgrimage

Halisahar and Kanchrapara, Temples and Pilgrimage

Halisahar and Kanchrapara

Temples and Pilgrimage

Halisahar is a non – descriptive town on the northern fringes of the North 24 Parganas district. Today it is a busy unplanned and overcrowded industrial town but the history of Halisahar dates back to the pre – Mughal days. The name Halisahar is probably of Islamic origin and is derived from “Haveli Sahar” meaning “City of Palaces.” (Haveli = Palace, Sahar = City)

Baranda Galir Mandir, Halisahar, 24 - Parganas (N)

Baranda Galir Mandir, Halisahar, 24 – Parganas (N)

Sadly the “Havelis” of Halisahar didn’t survive the test of time and have long crumbled into dust. Strangely a small terracotta temple complex have survived the centuries of human neglect and can still be seen today. Halisahar is also the birth place of legendary religious reformer Ramprasad Sen. His Kali Temple, although converted into a modern structure, is the prime attraction of Halisahar.

Nandokishore Temple Terracotta, Halisahar

Nandokishore Temple Terracotta, Halisahar

Halisahar is located about 40 km from Calcutta and for the most comfortable journey it is best to take the morning train from Sealdah. Get down at the station and take a rickshaw to the temple complex, popularly known as the Baranda Gali r Shiv Mandir. The complex houses four temples, two of which have been restored by the West Bengal State Archeology Department and a blue board proudly declares it as a protected monument. Sadly the complex is badly maintained and the vegetation removed by the archeologist have re-grown making the entire temple complex almost inaccessible.

To the left of the gate lies the Nandokishore Temple, the star attraction of the complex. Built by the local landlord Madangopal Roy in 1743 the front surface of the temple is entirely covered with intricate terracotta panels. The arch panel above the single arched entrance contains an elaborate battle scene from the Ramayana, where the two armies are separated by an image of Garuda. The side panels contain several interesting panels including a multi headed Shiva on a Nandi Bull. The base panels are no less elaborate with battle & court scenes complete with horses, chariots and palanquins. Sadly the base panels have overgrown with vegetation and are almost inaccessible.

Ramprasad Vite (Birth place of Ramprasad Sen)

Ramprasad Vite (Birth place of Ramprasad Sen)

The temple opposite the Nandakishore Temple is similar in structure but contains almost no terracotta apart from a few floral and geometric motifs. The foundation plaque is in terracotta unlike the marble plaque of the Nandakishore Temple. The other two temples of the complex are totally overgrown with vegetation and are on the verge of collapsing.

Bidding farewell to the temple complex I headed for the Craig Park on the banks of the Hooghly. The park provides great views of the river, with the Dunlop Sahapur factory on the other bank and the Ishwar Gupta Bridge further up the river. A 10 minutes walk from the Craig Park past a twin Shiva temple takes one to the Ramprasad Vite (Birth place).  Ramprasad Sen (1723 – 75) was an important figure in the Bhakti movement of Bengal. Ramprasad’s poems, known as Ramprasadi and dedicated to Goddess Kali, are still popular in Bengal today.   

Shri Krishna Jeu Mandir (Rathtala Mandir), Kancharapara, Nadia

Shri Krishna Jeu Mandir (Rathtala Mandir), Kancharapara, Nadia

This is the most popular spot in Halishar and attracts devotees from far & wide. The flat roofed Kali Temple has been modified into a modern structure. There are several other structures in the compound, sadly photography is only allowed from outside the gate.

Rathtala Mandir, Kancharapara

Rathtala Mandir, Kancharapara

If you are still hungry for more head back to the main road and take the route No. 85 bus to Bagh More. From Bagh More walk straight toward Rathtala and cross a narrow bridge, without foot path, and enter the Kalyani sub division of Nadia District. Continue along the same road for 5 minutes and take a left turn to reach the massive Rathtala Mandir.

Rathtala temple, officially known as the Shri Krishna Jeu Mandir, was constructed in 1785 by Nemai Charan and Gour Chara Mallick stand in a huge complex surrounded by two boundary walls. The complex a huge area but sadly there are no other structures apart from the temple. Built in typical aat chala style the temple towers above 60 feet and contains terracotta lotus motifs all over the front surface. It also contains a terracotta foundation plaque in addition to a marble plaque, which have been added later.

Just outside the temple complex is an elegant Dol Manch, but sadly it has been fenced off and totally inaccessible. Rathyatra is primary festival of Rathtala Temple and the nine pinnacled rath can be seen at the temple entrance.

From the temple take the route no. 27 bus to Kanchrapara station and then a train to Sealdah to end you Sunday pilgrimage.

  1. Sudipto Mitra
    July 5, 2014 at 12:31 AM

    Minor corrections. The place Rath-tala isn’t in Kanchrapara, as the area of Kanchrapara ends on the banks of the canal known as Bagh-er Khal (Tiger’s canal). En route you will find a concrete board just prior to the start of the bridge over the canal, which welcomes you to Kalyani. The anal also marks the end of the North 24 pargana district, as Kalyani, on its other bank, marks the beginning of the Nadia district. So, technically, Kanchrapara belongs to the North 24 pargana district, and serves as its border, while Kalyani does the same for Nadia. The temple, mentioned above, is located in Kalyani, which falls under the Nadia district.

  2. samaresh
    August 29, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    With due respect to Mr. Sudipto Mitra’s comment as he said Bagh-er khal (Tiger’s canal), its not actually ‘Tiger’ . Its a surname like Bag can be here in bengali peoples. I live at kanchrapara thats why I know that..

  3. silva
    May 6, 2015 at 3:27 PM

    I have visited these two temples in Halishahar and wondered why no one knows about these places…these are our heritage…felt good reading this. Halishahar is also known for Nigamananda Saraswati’s ashram.

  4. ashoke c.
    January 3, 2016 at 1:19 PM

    The narrow bridge over Bager Khal (canal of Bags’) has been transformed with a beautifu bridge with two way lofty foot path.

  5. dr animesh datta
    March 28, 2016 at 9:58 PM

    good description. i must go there recently.

  6. Joyoti Sen
    July 7, 2016 at 9:22 AM

    My ancestors were from Halisahar. My great grandfather left Halisahar and settled in what is now Patna. I wish I could meet some of my distant relatives who live in Halisahar.

  7. Abhisek Mukherjee
    August 25, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    I heared that it’s very popular place in westbengal.Especially it was the peaceful birth place of Sadhak Ramprasad.I did never go there,but I have an intension to go there…..,

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