West Bengal (Excluding Calcutta)

1. Guptipara ~ Chariots & Temples:

Guptipara, a non descriptive village on the Bandel – Katwa line has the distinction of hosting the first community Durga Puja. It also the birth place of Bengal’s branded sweet meat, Gupo Sandesh. Today famous for its terracotta temples, the Baishnav centre of Guptipara is famous fro its Rathyatra (Chariot festival). The nine pinacled towering chariot is pulled in a wild rampage. Read more…

2. Achipur ~ Birth Place of Calcutta Chinatown:

In the late 18th century a Chinese tea trader by the name of Tong Achew landed on the banks of Hooghly, somewhere near present day Budge – Budge, never to return again. He acquired land and set up a sugar – cane plantation along with a sugar mill. He brought in a band of Chinese workers to work in his plantation and factory and thus forming the first Chinese settlement in India. The place came to be known as Achipur after Tong Achew. Read more…

3. Aatpur ~ A poem in terracotta:

Aatpur was named after the jamindar Atar Khan while other believe the Aatpur is a combination of eight villages of Bhuri Shreshtha kingdom and hence the name Aatpur (or Antpur). The towering Radha Gobindo Temple, with its intricate terracotta is the prime attraction of Aatpur. Apart from traditional panels it also houses a vast number of panels showing European lifestyles. European soldiers with bayonet mounted guns and hunting scenes with dogs are abundant on the walls of the temple. Read more…

4. Jatar Deul and the illusive horse race:

The towering Jatar Deul is located on the edge of Sundarban and is considered as one of the oldest standing structes in the whole of West Bengal. Nothing much is known about the temple and historians are still in the dark. Today a protected monument, and looked after by the ASI, the Jatar Deul can be reached in 5 hrs from Kolkata by a combination of train, bus and motor van. Read more…

5. Frazerganj, Bakkhali & Henry’s Island:

Exactly 100 years ago, Lt-Gov. of Bengal Andrew Frazer fell in love with a beach at one end of the Sunderbans. He was so drawn to that stretch of sand that he built a bungalow at Narayanitala, the nearest village. Frazer, however, could not fulfill his dream of converting Narayanitala, later rechristened Frazerganj, into a health and beach resort. But today Frazerganj along with Bakkhali & Henry’s Island have developed into beautiful beach resorts. Read more…

6. Dasghara ~ Terracotta & Clock Tower:

A non – descriptive village near Tarekeshwar, Dasghara probably has the distinction of housing the Gopinath Temple, considered by the experts to be the most preserved terracotta temple in the whole of West Bengal. Dasghara also has the distinction of housing huge colonial mansions complete with towering clock towers, surrounded by landscaped gardens with marble statues and approached by decorative Victorian gateways. Read more…

7. Rajbalhat ~ Temples & Textiles:

The non – descriptive in Hooghly houses the strange Idol of Devi Rajballavi and hence the name Rajbalhat. During the British period Rajbalhat was an important centre of silk industry and in 1789 East India Company set up a Commercial Residency in Rajbalhat. The textile industry survives to this day and the sound of the hand loams can still be heard in Rajbalhat. Bobbins of thread left to dry are a regular sight. Read more…

8. Bali Dewanganj ~ Terracotta at its best:

Located in the Arambagh sub – division of Hooghly district Bali – Dewanganj probably houses a number of beautiful terracotta temples. The star attraction of Bali – Dewangaj is the Durga temple, which follows a strange combination of Bengal Chala & Ratna architecture. There are several other religious structure and mansions but all in ruins. Read more …

9. Ghutiari Sharif ~ Melting pot of all faiths:

During the medieval period Islam started spreading roots into South Bengal. During that time South Bengal was an extension of the Sundarban and was infested with tigers, crocodiles and snakes making it one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Several Pirs took up the initiative of spreading Islam in this inhospitable region. Pir Mobarak Gaji (or Gaji Baba) was one such Pir and his Majar at Ghutiari Sharif is visited by thousands of people of all faith. Read more…

10. Bowali ~ Temples & Mansions:

Bowali, a non – descriptive village just off the Diamond Harbour Road (DH rd) from Amtala, is home to towering temples and palatial mansions. The village contains several ruined temples but the star attraction is the towering naba – ratna (nine pinnacled) temple of Gopinath. Bowali also has a huge Victorian styled mansion. There are several structure but the most interesting is the Jal Tungi, a water folly located at the middle of a pond. Read more…

11. Sripur ~ Temples & Boats:

Sripur, a village in Hooghly district is approached from Balagarh, a station on the Bandel – Katwa line. Once a prime centre of Boat building Sripur one supplied anything from river boats to giant ocean going ships. With the river silting up the boat industry is now restricted only to small boats. Sripur also has a large number of temples and religious structures. Read more…

12. Joypur ~ Terracotta beyond Bishnupur:

Bishnupur is famous for its terracotta. Scattered round Bishnupur are numerous temples with intricate terracotta works. But villages beyond Bishnupur also contains a number of temples, smaller in size but with more intricate and detailed terracotta works. Joypur happens to be one such village. Read more…

13. Ballal Dhipi ~ Mound of Ballal Sen:

For centuries, a 30-ft mound spread over 1,300 sq ft, has stood at Bamunpukur, a village near Mayapur. The locals call it Ballal Dhipi, named after Ballal Sen, of the Sen dynasty, who ruled Bengal in the late 12th Century AD. The ASI started digging the area in the early 1980s. The work was carried out in two phases — in 1982-83 and 1988-99. The excavation revealed a gigantic brick structure in an extensive yard surrounded by walls. Read more…

14. Chandannagar ~ A slice of France:

A erstwhile French colony Chandnanagar (or Chandnagore) remained under French control till 1951. Located on the banks of the Hooghly the french colony still houses a number of french mansions and church. Duplex museum is a must vist in Chandnanagar. The strand of Chandannagar is considered as the finest strech of the entire Hooghly River. Read more…

15. Kulpi ~ Abandoned Lighthouses & Mysterious Grave:

Recently the West Bengal Government is taken of the initiative of turning Kulpi into a port, but the history of Kulpi and the Hooghly River trade dates back several centuries. Abandoned light houses and forgotten graves reminds one of the glourious days of the Hooghly river trade. Kulpi is located about 10 km south of the popular tourist spot of Diamond Harbour. Diamond Harbour is well connected from Calcutta (Kolkata) by rail & road. Kulpi can also be reached directly by bus heading for Namkhana or Kakdip. Read more…

16. Mitra Mustafi Family Trilogy:

In 1704 Rameswar Mitra received official Mustaufi title from Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi. Rameswar Mitra made a huge fortune and constructed several mansions and temples in ULa, which later came on to be known as Ula Birnagar.  His two sons migrated to Sripur and Sukharia and continued with the temple construction. Read more…

17. Mahesh Ratha Yatra:

When it comes to Rathayartra the first name that comes to mind is Puri. But closer home Mahesh, a small town near Srerampore in Hooghly district, hosts a magnificent Rath Yatra festival complete with a towering rath. Today this gigantic nine pinnacled rath is pulled in a wild rampage, through crowded streets under strict police supervision. Read more…

18. West Bengal Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival):

When it comes to Rath (or Ratha) Yatra (Chariot Festival) the first thing that comes into mind is Puri, Orissa (Odissa). The towering raths (chariots) of Puri have almost become synonymous wit Ratha Yatra. But West Bengal, the neighbouring state of Orissa, also houses several Rath Yatra festivals, complete with towering raths.  Some of this rath yatras dates back a couple of centuries and attracts devotees from far and wide. Read more…

19. Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples:

Ambika Kalna (or simply Kalna) is located 82 km from Kolkata (Howrah) on the Bandel – Katwa line. Located on the west bank of the Bhagirathi, Ambika Kalna (popularly known as Kalna) once flourished as a prosperous port town. The prime attraction of Ambika Kalna is the 108 Shiva Temple complex. Built in 1809 by the Bardhaman Maharaja Tej Chandra Bahadur the complex contains 108 aat – chala (eight sloped roofed) temples arranged in two concentric circles separated by a well-maintained lawn with beautiful flowerbeds. Read more…

20. Palpara Brick Temple:

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) website describes it as the Palpara Brick Temple, while the locals call it the Moth Mandir, Kali Mandir or even Shiv Mandir. The seventeenth century temple has long been abundant. It is recently been restored by the ASI and declared as a Monument of National Importance. The brick built south facing char – chala temple (four sloped roofs meeting at a pinnacle) stands on a raised plinth and is believed to be built by Gandharba Roy in seventeenth century, Read more…

21. Beyond Bishnupur ~ Brick and Stone Temples:

Bishnupur one of the prime tourist attraction of the state of West Bengal houses some extra odinary terracotta temples. But the tourist attraction of Bishnupur are not restricted to Bishnupur alone. Several non – descriptive towns and villages, located within 50 km radius of Bishnupur, have the distinction of housing some of the spectacular terracotta and stone temples of the state. So next time in Bishnupur don’t give this places a miss. Read more …

22. Gokulchand Temple, Gokulnagar ~ Fortified Stone Temple:

Although numerous brick terracotta temples dot the entire Gangatic West Bengal but they are not the only form of temple architecture. Stone temples do exists in West Bengal and are mainly concentrated in the western region of the state and adds a new dimension to Bengal Temple Architecture. Probably the grandest of these few Bengal stone temples is the Gakulchand Temple of Gokulnagar. Located only a few kilometer from the spectacular terracotta temples of Bishnupur this laterite stone temple is considered as the largest stone temple of Bankura District. Read more…

23. Mahisasurmardini on Bengal Terracotta:

The most popular form of Durga appearing on on Bengal Terracotta Temple is the episode of slaying the buffalo demon (Mahishasur). Durga riding her vehicle, lion is mostly accompanied by her daughters and sons, namely Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh. The Mahishasurmardini motif is common on many of the late medieval brick temples of Bengal, irrespective of the worshiped deity to which the temple belongs. Read more …

24. Rajbalhat Ratha Yatra:

Rajbalhat, the abode of Devi Rajballavi also has the distinction of having a great Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival). The Radhakanta Temple of Ghatakpara is famous for its Ratha Yatra. Although not considered as one of the leading Ratha Yatras of West Bengal Rajbalhat features a unique rath yatra. Rajbalhat has a unique rath yatra. The rath does not carry the idols of Jagannath, Balaram & Subhadra but instead carries the idols of Radha – Krishna. Also the rath is not pulled by ropes but by iron chains. Read more…

25. Sachin Mukherjee’s Fanush ~ Bhadreshwar, Hooghly:

Sachin Mukherjee's Fanush, Bhadreshwar, HooghlyFor Sachin Mukherjee of Bhadreshwar the childhood fantasy of fanush (paper made hot air balloons) making has turned out to be a life long obsession. Fanush making and flying has been a Sachin Mukherjees passion for the last 60 years. Today nicknamed the “Fanush Manush” (Fanush man) Sachin Mukherjee is quiet a celebrity in Bhadreshwar and nearby areas and has even displayed his art in Delhi and Mumbai. Read more…

26. Asad uj Jaman’s collection of Chandraketugarh Artifacts:

Asad uj Jaman's Chandraketugarh ArtifactsLocated about 50 km north of Calcutta (Kolkata) Chandraketugarh is a treasure trove of history and archeology. The region was first surveyed by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, of Mohenjo Daro fame, and the Archeology Department of Calcutta University carried out an extensive dig at the Khona – Mihir er Dhipi (mound) during the 1950s, but the huge Chandraketugarh Mound still remains almost untouched. Over the last two decades local residence Asad uj Jaman have made up is formidable collection of more than 1500 piece of Chndraketugarh Artifacts. Read more…

27. Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge:

Komagata Maru PlaqueJust next to the docks of Budge Budge, about 30 km south of Calcutta (Kolkata), lies a strange memorial. Popularly known as the “Punjabi Monument” it is modelled as the Sikh kirpan (dagger), the white and green cement structure rises in a magnificent arch to touch the sky. The memorial is dedicated to victims of the notorious Komagata Maru Incident that happened almost a century ago. Read more…

28. Mahabharata on Bengal Terracotta:

Arjuna in battle of Kurukshetra, JoypurFor over two thousand years the Ramayana and Mahabharata has been influencing deeply the religious and moral thoughts as well as literacy and artistic production in India. The exotic terracotta Temple of Bengal (West Bengal and Bangladesh) are no exceptions. The walls of the Bengal terracotta temple are dotted with stories from the two great epics but strangely Ramayana panels far out number the panels from Mahabharata. Read more…

29. Bawali Rajbari, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South):

Bawali Rajbari Courtyard, Bawali, 24 Parganas (South)Recently the magnificent but the crumbling Bawali Mansion of the Mondal have been taken over by Calcutta (Kolkata) based businessman Ajay Rawla, who has taken up the initiative of turning the ruined mansion into a heritage hotel.Presently four rooms have been renovated and are opening to public. The open area consisting of a dinning hall and two drawing rooms have also been renovated but keeping the old rustic look alive. Read more…

30. Rajrajeshwar Temple, Kotalpur, Hooghly:

The Parsis leave their dead bodies for the vulture to eat but for the Hindus vultures have always been considered as a symbol of misfortune and bad luck. So the image of vultures is the last thing you expect to see on the walls of a Hindu temple but the Rajrajeshwar Temple, in the remote village of Kotalpur, have a distinction of housing several images of vultures. One of the terracotta panels on the temple walls shows two vultures feasting on a human corpse and several other panels show vultures in different postures. Read more…

31. Terracotta Temples of Sribati:

Durga, Sribati TerracottaLocated near Katwa in the Burdwan District of West Bengal the small non – descriptive village of Sribati houses three spectacular terracotta temples. Te three temple dedicated to Lord Shiva were constructed by the Chanda family, who made their fortune by trading with the British. Sadly today the temples lies in utter neglect and are in urgent need of conservation. Read more…

32. Dihar, Ruined Twin Temples:

Saileswar and Sareswar Temples, Dihar (near Bishnupur), BankuraLocated 8 km from Bishnupur, on the Bishnupur – Sonamukhi highway, the village of Dihar houses two ruined but majestic temples. Both the temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and are known as Sareswar and Saileswar. Located atop a small mound the Sareswar and Saileswar Temples are built of laterite stones. Built in 1346 by the Malla King Pritvi Malla, the temples follow the typical Oriya Deul style architecture. The towering spires of both Sareswar and Saileswar have long collapsed, but they still commands majestic presence. Read more…

33. Armenian Churches of West Bengal:

Holy Trinity Armenian Church, TangraThe Armenians have been connected with India as traders from the days of antiquity. However, the Armenian community prospered and developed during the 16th right up to the 18th century. In India, wherever they build settlements, they constructed churches. Today, all over India, one can find many beautiful Armenian churches, chapels and historical monuments standing as mute witnesses or silent sentinels of a once-flourishing Armenian settlement. Presently West Bengal alone houses five Armenian Churches in Calcutta (Kolkata) and surrounding areas. Read more…

34. Bishnupur, Temple Town:

Stone has always been in short supply in the vast flood plains of Bengal. Hence the architects had to restore to other substitute. As clay was easily available the burnt clay bricks soon became a good substitute of stone. This gave rise to a new form of temple architecture and lead to the construction of elaborately decorated terracotta temples. The terracotta art reached its pinnacle under the patronage of the Malla Kings of Bishnupur during the seventeenth century.The temples are still there turning Bishnupur, in Bankura District, into one of the most favored tourist spot in not only in West Bengal  but in the whole of India. Read more…

35. Halisahar and Kancharapara, Temples and Pilgrimage:

Shri Krishna Jeu Mandir (Rathtala Mandir), Kancharapara, NadiaHalisahar 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). 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. The nearby town of Kanchapara also houses a gigantic temple. Read more…

36. Independence Day Celebration (18 August), Shivnibas, Nadia, WB, India:

Boat Race on Churni River, Independence Day Celebration (18 Aug) , Shivnibas, NadiaOn Aug. 15 1947 it was freedom for India but the Independence came with the horrors of partition. A cartographic error by Sir Radcliff awarded most of the Hindu majority district of Nadia to Pakistan. Protest followed forcing Lord Mountbatten to revise the boarder. On the evening of 17 Aug. All India Radio (AIR) declared Nadia as part of India. Jubilations were held all over Nadia and the Pakistani flag was replaced by the Indian Triclour in the Krishnangar Public Library. Ever since 1998, 18 August is being celebrated as the independence day of Nadia by the 18 August Committee in the small non – descriptive boarder town of Shivnibas. Read more…

37. Bandel ~ Church and Imambara:

Jubilee Bridge over Hooghly River, from Imambara TowerAlmost a century after Vasco da Gama reached the West Coast of India the Portuguese started making their inroads into Bengal. Soon settlement started growing up along the rivers and the area around present day Hooghly became the Portuguese stronghold. By 1599 a church was constructed on the banks of the Hooghly, making it the oldest Christian Church of West Bengal.But the heritage of Bandel is not restricted to Church alone. Bandel Imambara is one such attraction. Imambara literally means the residence of the Imam, but In the Indian subcontinent, the word stands for a house or an assembly hall built by the Shiites for observing Muharram. Read more…

38. Chandraketugarh and Khana Mihir er Dhipi:

Khana Mihir er Dhipi (Mound)According to archaeologists Chandraketugarh was a prosperous urban settlement that flourished during the 4th century BC to the 12 century AD. The period ranged from the yearly Mauryan to the late Pala rule. Located just about 50 km from Calcutta (Kolkata) the twin mounds of Khana Mihir and Chandraketugarh are located at Barchampa, near Barasat and can be comfortably covered in a day trip from Kolkata (Calcutta). Read more…

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