Radhanath Temple, Mondal Temple Lane, Tollygunge Circular Road
Radhanath Temple of the Mondal Family
Mondal Temple Lane, Tollygunge Circular Road
History books tell us that the Mondals of Bawali were originally Roys. Shovaram, the grandson of Basudev Roy (who lived between the end of 16th century and the early 17th century), was awarded the title Mondal. Shovaram’s grandson Rajaram was the senapati of the Raja of Hijli. Moved by his bravery, the raja offered him the ownership of 50 villages, which included Bowali and Budge Budge.
The family set up residence in Bawali. This marked the beginning of their dominance in the area, roughly around 1710. The family flourished under Rajaram’s grandson Haradhan, who enjoyed the patronage of East India Company.
He built many temples and his seven sons followed in his footsteps, turning the nondescript village into a temple town.
Sometimes in the 18th century Robert Clive invited the Mondals to settle in Calcutta (Kolkata). Ramnath Mondal and Manick Mondal responded to Clive’s invitation and settled on the banks of the Tolly Nala (Adi Ganga) in the present day Chetla – Tollygunge area.
Both Ramnath Mondal and Manick Mondal maintained their family tradition and constructed severl temples and temple complexes alon the Tolly Nala (Adi Ganga).
Most spectacular of the Mondal Temples in the Chetla – Tollygunge area is the 90 feet tall Radhanath Temple built by Ramnath Mondal.
Constructed of the Radhanath Temple started in 1796 and was completed in 1809. It follows the traditional naba – ratna plan and consists of nine pinnacles.
The temple is located in a extremely congested area and is difficult to spot. For visitors coming from the Tollygunge side one must cross the bridge over the Tolly Nala (Adi Ganga) and take the second right turn into the Chetla Road (ignore the first right turn which is a narrow lane).
After a few steps along the Chetla Road the temple becomes visible on the left, with its pinnacles towering over the surrounding rooftops.
Take the first left turn into the Mondal temple lane and a few steps on the left in the entrance to the Radhanath Temple Complex.
Apart from the towering naba – ratna Radhanath Temple the complex also contains a huge flat roofed nat mandir.
The old roof of the nat mandir has long collapsed and have been replaced by a concrete roof in 1961.
The descendants of the Mondal family continue to live in the temple complex and try to maintain the temple with their limited funds.
A major repair work was carried out in 2013 when all vegetative growth was removed from the temple, but within a year new vegetations have taken roots into the temple.
The temple is dedicated to Radhakanta and houses the idol of Radhakanta, Radha, Lakshmi Narayan and several other deities.
The Radhakanta idol is made of black stone, while those of Radha and Lakshmi Narayan are made of astadhatu, an aloy of eight metals.
A black stone plaque on the base of the eastern wall of the temple gives the details of the temple construction. It is written in a primitive Bengali script.
The temple is two storied and the lower storie contains five doors on each side while the upper storie has 3 doors on each side. Each of these doors are crowned with intricately designed floral motifs.
Sadly the Radhanath Temple is heavily encroached and it is difficult to get a full length shot of the temple. But the friendly neighborhood has come up come up with an unique solution by allowing photographers to their rooftop for a great shot of the Radhanath Temple.
- A special thanks to Deepanjan Ghosh for not only guiding me to the Radhanath Temple at Mondal Temple Lane but for providing necessary info for the write up. Do Deepanjan’s post on Radhanath Temple. Also thanks to Amartya Saha for his company and negotiation skills!!!
- A special thanks to the Ariya and the Singh family for providing access to their rooftops
- Thanks to the Facebook group Calcutta Photographies and Memories (CP&M) and especially to Timirbaran Pal for providing info about the Radahanath Temple at Mondal Temple Lane.