Choto Ras Bari, Chetla Tollygunge Region, Kolkata
Choto Ras Bari
Chetla Tollygunge Region, Kolkata
Today the the Adi Ganga (Tollly Nala) looks nothing better than a drain, but this creek once served as a major pilgrim route to the Kalighat and is older than the city of Kolkata (Calcutta).
As the Adi Ganga (Tolly Nala) served as a pilgrim route, several other temples were constructed along its banks, the Radhanath Temple, Boro Ras Bari (major house) and Choto Ras Bari (minor house), is one such temple complex.
The elaborate temple complex of Choto Ras Bari, is located behind the busy market on Tollygunge Road and has an official address of 93 Tollygunge Road.
The temple complex is approachable through a field, where local boys play cricket.
The entrance is trough a small gateway crowned with a pediment supported by four slender columns.
Sadly the small gate is heavily encroached upon and clothes are left to dray. The area also serves as workshops of artisans making earthen cups, used for drinking tea. The unburnt cups are left to dry at the Choto Ras Bari entrance.
Also located next to the entrance is a ghat (pavilion) leading to the Adi Ganga (Tolly Nala).
The flat roof structure, supported by slender columns, leads to the Adi Ganga (Tolly Nala) via a flight of steps.
This structure is also heavily encroached upon and some parts have been converted into living quarters.
The water of Adi Ganga (Tolly Nala) is pitch black in colour and is stagnant. It also has a stinking smell. It was hard to believe that the water was once crystal clear and carried barges with hordes of pilgrims, heading for the Kalighat.
It was quiet likely that many of the pilgrims had a brief stop and the Choto Ras Bari and made their way to inside the elaborate temple complex.
The temple complex, housed within a high wall has a huge courtyard paved with black & white marbles in a checkered pattern. On the side are six temples each, in aat chala (eight sloped roofs) style and houses shiva lingam.
The principle attraction is on the far end and this side houses three spectacular towering temples.
The central structure follows the naba ratna (nine pinnacled) style and is flanked on both side by similar looking, slightly shorter structures, which follow the pancha ratna (five pinnacled) style.
The Naba Ratna temple is known as the Sree Sree Gopal Ji Temple and houses the idol of Gopal and Radha & Krishna.
The Chota Ras Bari temple complex of the Tollygunge – Chetla is generally associated with the Mondals of Bawali. The Mondals built spectacular temples and mansions in Bawali, near Budge Budge and recently their mansion has been converted into a heritage hotel.
But a plaque near the entrance claims that the temple was constructed by Pyarilal Das and Manimohan Das and constructed was completed in April 1847.
There are two more plaques at the entrance and one of them provides for the dos and donts of the temple. It says footwear must be left outside the temple and the temple should not be entered on elephant, horse and palanquin.
There are three more small shiva temples just outside the complex but they have been turned into artisans workshop, who make earthen cups along with idols of Gods and Goddesses.
Sadly the Choto Ras Bari along with the nearby Baro Ras Bari and Radhnath Temple are in extremely poor state and are on the verge of collapsing.
Special Thanks: Fellow bloggers and friend Deeopanjan Ghosh deserves a special thanks for not only leading me the temples but also for providing the necessary information for writing this article. Do read Deepanjan’s blog on Chotto Ras Bari.