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Kurumbera, Moghalmari, Gangani and Pathra, Weekend Family Tour

Kurumbera, Moghalmari, Gangani and Pathra

Weekend Family Tour from Salboni, West Midnapore

A fortified temple complex, an excavated Buddhist Vihar, a canyon not as grand as the Grand Canyon and finally a village of brick built temples and all this in a single weekend tour from Kolkata

Salboni C1

Weekend tour of West Midnapore. Clockwise from top left: Kurumbera (fortified temple complex), Moghalmari (an excavated Buddhist Vihar), Gangani (canyon) and Pathra (temple village)

Dol and Holi 9 March (Monday) and 10 March (Tuesday) 2020 provided a extended weekend and an excellent opportunity for a weekend tour to explore the hidden natural and historical treasures of West Midnapore.

Group 1

Our group during a lunch break

It was the second week on March and the Corona Virus (COVID 19) was just making inroads in the country.

We decided to explore some of the lesser known tourist spots of West Midnapore in the extended weekend.

Our two day two night tour was based at the guest house of Bharatia Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt. Ltd. (BRBNMPL) Guest House. An amazing place where Indian currency notes are printed.

The Itinerary of the tour was as follows:

9 March (Sun): Howrah – Barbil Jan Shatabdi Express. Howrah departure 06:20, Kharagpur arrival 08:00. Breakfast on the way. Visit Kurumbera (fortified temple complex) and Moghalmari (excavated Buddhist Vihar). Lunch on the way. Reach BRBNMPL Guest House late afternoon. Dinner and night stay.

10 March (Mon): Start early from BRBNMPL Guest House and visit Gangani (canyon). Breakfast on the way. Visit Pathra (temple village). Lunch on the way. Reach (BRBNMPL) Guest House late afternoon. Dinner and night stay.

11 March (Tue): Bhubaneswar – Howrah Jan Shatabdi Express. Kharagpur departure 10:50 and Howrah arrival 12:40

Kurumbera – a fortified stone temple complex

The  fortified complex of Kurumbera lies in the village of Gaganeshwar, which is 4 km from Keshiari and 30 km from Kharagpur. According to a stone inscription, written in Odiya, the Kurumbera Fort was  built in 1438–1469  during the rule of Surya Vamsi king of Odisha Gajapati Kapilendra Dev.

Kurumbera 1

Kurumbera, a fortified temple complex, West Midnapore

The structure resembles the medieval architecture of Odisha, while also incorporating elements of later Mughal architecture. Kurumbera means stone wall (kurum = stone, bera = fence) and refers to the 12 feet high wall enclosing the complex. The wall complex measured 253 feet by 173 feet and has a gateway on the northern side.

Kurumbera 8

Inside Kurumbera Fort complex

Inside the wall the entire arena is surrounded by an 8-feet wide arched corridor running on all four sides, although several portions of it have broken down.

The most prominent structure of the complex is a three domed mosque located on the western side of the complex. The mosque was constructed my Mohammed Tahir in 1699 during the reign of the last great Mughal, Aurangazeb.

At the centre of a complex lies the remains of a ruined structure. Historians believed it to be a ancient Shiva Temple. There are remains of several other scattered ruined structure in the complex.

Although called a fort but Kurumera lacks the basic elements of fortification. With no bastions and battlements along with moats and watch tower Kurumbera never represents a fort. It represents more of a mosque complex with a large gathering space. Sadly there are no written history of documented records to justify the claim.

More on Kurumbera Fort

Moghalmari – an excavated Buddhist Vihar

Moghalmari is located on the left bank of Subarnarekha River in the district of West Medinipur, 3.2 miles north of Dantan. The first detailed excavation of the Moghalmari site started in 2003 by a group of archaeologists led by Asok Datta from Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta.

Mughalmari 1

Moghalmari excavation site

Several excavation in the Sakhisener Dhibi or Sashisener Dhibi, technically known as MGM1, reveled several brick built structures with detailed stucco work. The  structural finding consisted of a triratha projection in the western part of the site consisting of a wall running north–south which is considered to be a wall of a small monastic complex.

Mughalmari 13

Artifacts displayed at the Moghalmari site museum

Later excavations revealed a long wall covered with stucco decorations consisting of floral, animals and human figurines, and also evidenced two stages of construction of the structure.

Another important discovery of the excavation was the discovery of a Buddha image on a slate stone. Later excavation also revealed various stucco figures in the walls with votive tablets having figure of Buddha as the central element, and flanked by Bodhisattas and Buddhist inscriptions.

Presently the site is under the West Bengal State Archaeology Department and restoration and reconstruction of the site is being carried out. A portion containing the stucco work is kept under a make shift shed.

A club building, which stood on top of the mound even before the excavation started, is now transformed into a makeshift site museum. Many of the artifacts found in the excavation have been shifted to the West Bengal State Archaeological Museum in Behala.

More on Moghalmari

Gangani, a canyon

Gangani or Gongoni is a canyon on the Shilabati River and is often refereed to as the Grand Canyon of West Bengal. It is located near the Garbeta in West Midnapore.

Gongani 1

Gangoni Canyon

Although much smaller in size than its Americal counterpart the Ganani canyon also has its share of amazing mud and rock sculptures are formed as the Shilabati river flows through a 70ft-deep gorge.

Gongani 6

Gangani Canyon

A zig – zag staircase leading to the bottom of the canyon. The staircase is just the beginning as real exploration starts from the end of the staircase.

From the end of the staircase a rugged foot trail leads to the interior of the canyon meandering past several natural mud formations representing caves, towers and turrets.

Not only the structures the colours are also a prime attraction as one makes his way through the canyon maze the colour changes from different shades of yellow to greay and to red.

The place is recently been converted into a tourist spot and homestays, hotels and restaurant are on the pipeline. Also to save the fragile natural structures picnic have been banned in the canyon area. An seperate area near the canyon has been desinated as the official picnic area.

More on Gangani

Pathra – Temple village

West Bengal is nothing unknown to temple villages and towns. Towns like Bishnupur and Ambika Kalna are well known temple towns in the state. Pathra, a nondescript village near Midanapore town, is another temple town of the state. What makes Pathra unique is the conservation effort of a single man named Yashin Pathan.

Pathra 1

Temples of Pathra

Yashin Pathan, now aged almost 70 was a muslim resident of the Pathra village took up the mammoth task of protecting the 18th century temples way back in 1970. A retired peon of a local school he can be considered a champion of communal harmony.

Pathra 13

Temples of Pathra

Due to Pathan’s effort, today the 28 of the 34 temples and structures of Pathra are under the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) out of which 18 are repaired with technical assistance from the architecture department of the nearby IIT, Kharagpur.

The temple are divided into two complexes and there are several also isolated temples. The main complex lies on both sides of the main road.

The complex consists of a naba ratna (nine pinnacle) temple along with several panch ratna (five pinnacle), aat chala (eight sloped roofs) temples  and several other structures. The other complex is located a bit off the road and consists of three panch ratna (five pinnacle) temples, a ras mancha and several other structures.

More on Pathra

Bharatia Reserve Bank Note Mudran Pvt. Ltd. (BRBNMPL) Guest House

The mint at Salboni prints Indian currency notes and the guest house in the complex was our home for two nights. It is a highly restricted area and photography is restricted. Thanks to fellow travel enthusiast Stupa (di) Baul for making all necessary arrangement. Sadly we missed out on the printing press tour due to time constraint.

Tour Information:

  • The trip can be done based on any hotel in Kharagpur or Midnapor town
  • A car is essential for the tour. The cost of visiting the four places in two days will cost ₹ 4500/- . For car and driver contact. Sk. Dilshad 9932690075 and 9775561487

  1. Aadil
    March 26, 2020 at 2:51 PM

    Thanks for sharing this. Would love to visit sometime!

    • March 26, 2020 at 3:00 PM

      Please do visit. Hope things will be normal soon

  2. Jayashree Sengupta
    March 29, 2020 at 11:30 AM

    I keep on planning to visit them… Kurumbera and Moghalmari is so near to my workplace. Gongoni is yet another one on my bucket list. But Kurumbera is on priority one.

    • March 29, 2020 at 11:37 AM

      Once we are out of the Corona lock down do visit the places.

  3. March 30, 2020 at 8:01 PM

    Nice place for family tour

    • April 23, 2020 at 9:30 AM

      Very true, a perfect family weekend gateway from Kolkata

  4. Satabdi Das
    November 1, 2021 at 1:40 PM

    Can anyone book that guest house?

    • November 1, 2021 at 1:43 PM

      It is under the mint and only employees of the mint can book it.

      However the tour can be done staying in any hotel in Kharagpur, Midnapore or any other nearby town

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