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Mitra Mustafi Family Trilogy

May 23, 2012 9 comments

Mita Mustafi Family Trilogy

Ula Birnagar, Sukharia and Sripur

In the early 18th century Rameshwar Mitra of Ula, worked as the Auditor General in the court of Murshid Kuli Khan in Murshidabad. 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.

Ula Birnagar

Birnagar, Nadia

Jora Bangla Temple, Ula Birnagar, Nadia

Jora Bangla Temple, Ula Birnagar, Nadia

Some of the early brick temples of Bengal was built in the form of thatched hut and came to be known as the Bangla Temple. The architects soon started making more elaborate temples by joining two Bangla temples side by side, which came to be known as the Jora – Bangla style.

Sadly only a few Bangla and Jora – Bangla temple have survived the test of time and can be still seen to this day. The Mitra – Mustafi family temple, at Ula Birnagar, can be considered as one of the finest example of Jora – Bangla Temple of West Bengal.

Built in 1694 the temple, is approached by a triple arched entrance, and  has elaborate terracotta decoration of the front side. Panels includes, scenes from Krishna Lila, Ramayan, Gods & Goddesses and scenes from social life.

Sadly the Mitra Mustafi Mansion have long crumbled to dust and the famed Chandi Mandap with elaborate wood carvings lies in utter neglect. A branch of the Mitra Mustafi family still stays in Ula Birnagar in a small newly constructed house. Read more…

Sukharia

Somrabazar, Hooghly

Rameswar Mitra’s son Anantaram Mitra left Ula and settled in Sukharia in 1712. Anatram also built a huge mansion in Sukharia along with several temples. The mansion is in ruins and many of the temples have been converted into modern structures and in the process loosing their beauty and grace.

Ananda Bhairabi Temple, Sukharia

Ananda Bhairabi Temple, Sukharia

The 25 pinnacled Anandabhirabi Temple is the star attraction of Sukharia.  The approach to the Ananda Bhairavi Temple, housing the idol of Anandamoyee Kali, is flanked by two parallel rows containing six temples each. Five of the temples on each row are of aat – chala (8 sloped roofs) type while one each are of pnacha – ratna (5 pinnacled) type. One of the panch – ratna temple is dedicated to Ganesh while the rest nine houses shiva – lingas. The temple has under gone several renovations and reconstruction and in the process lost much of its beauty and grace.

Hara Sundari Temple, built in 1813 is a naba – ratna (9 pinnacled) temple has a approach similar to Ananda Bhairabi Temple only in this case each row consist of a total of seven temples consisting of two pancha – ratna and five aat – chalas temples. This temple has recently been restored by the Mitra Mustafi Family. Also read Sukharia Travelogue and Restoration of Sukharia Temples

Sripur

Balagarh, Hooghly

In 1708 Rameshwar Mitra’s eldest son Raghunandan also left Ula and settled in Sripur. Taking advantage of the river trade he soon made a fortune and established a fort complex complete with several temples and other religious structures decorated with elaborate and intricate wood curving. The fort has long crumbled into dust but a few of the temples have survived the test of time and can still be seen to this day.

Boat Making, Sripur, Balagarh

Boat Making, Sripur, Balagarh

The fort complex contains a Rash Mancha and several temples, but the star attraction of the complex is the Chandi Mandap, with its intricate wooden carvings.

The Chandi Mandap constructed in 1707 by the Mitra Mustafi family, has recently been declared a protected monument. The hay thatched roof has been replaced with corrugated sheet, thus robbing it of its former beauty and grace. But the real wonder lies inside the Mandap, where the Durga Pujo is held to this day. The three walls of the Chandi Mandap are decorated with the most intricate wood curved panels. The wooden panels are very similar to the terracotta panels that dot the walls of the numerous temples of Bengal. But the wood work is not restricted to the panels alone. The pillars and the roof beams are curved with the finest floral, geometric & figurative designs.

The century old boat industry still survives, but is only restricted to small boats. The banks all along the Hooghly in Sripur is lined with boat making workshops. Read more…

Special Thanks: Mr Shyamal Mitra of Mitra Mustafi family.

Reference:

Refrence from my Blog:

Reference from my Website:

List of my Blog entry on West Bengal

Sripur ~ Temples & Boats

February 19, 2012 6 comments

Sripur

Temples and Boats

See also: My blog post Mitra Mustafi Trilogy

Almost a hundred years after Vasco da Gama landed on the West Coast of India the Portuguese & other European powers started making inroads into Bengal. Using the intricate network of rivers of the Ganga – Bramhaputra Delta the Europeans settled in various parts of Bengal. Their huge barges and ships sailed up & down the Hooghly carrying merchandise from far off lands.

Sripur Temple Complex

Sripur Temple Complex

Soon the country was in need of boats, barges and even ships. A boat building industry was set up in Sripur, near the present day Balagarh station on the Bandel – Katwa line. Sripur soon started producing not only boats of different shapes and sizes but also ocean going ships turning the non descriptive village into a busy industrial town.

In the early 18th century, during the golden days of Sripur, Raghunandan Mitra Mustafi of Ula Birnagar in Nadia, migrated to Sripur. Taking advantage of the river trade he soon made a fortune and established a fort complex complete with several temples and other religious structures decorated with elaborate and intricate wood curving. The fort has long crumbled into dust but a few of the temples, along with the intricate wood work, have survived the test of time and can still be seen to this day.

Century old temples with extensive wood curving, along with age old boat making industry and last but not least the grand views of the river Hooghly can well turn Sripur into your next Sunday outing destination.

The 70 km journey to Sripur takes about 2 hours from Howrah. Although rickshaws are available from the Balagarh station to the Sripur temple complex, but it is best to take a leisurely walk. After about 25 minutes of walk you reach the Sripur village, where you are welcomed by the sound of boat maker’s hammer. Walk past the numerous boat making workshops to the temple complex.

Dol Mancha, Sripur

Dol Mancha, Sripur

On the left of the road lie a temple and a Dol Mancha. The temple, housing a Shiva – Linga, have been reconstructed and in the process losing its beauty and grace. But the two storied Dol Mancha, with its elegant pillars & arches and crowned with the decorative railing, still reminds one of the glorious days of Sripur.

From the Dol Mancha take a right turn and walk past the Twin Shiv Mandir towards the main cluster of temples. The walls of the Twin Shiv Temples were once covered with intricate terracotta works but sadly they have been plastered off.

The main temple complex houses the Radha Gobinda Mandir along with several temples, Rash Mancha, Nat Mandir. But the star attraction of Sripur is the intricately curved wooden Chandi Mandap.

Wood Curving, Chandi Mandap, Sripur

Wood Curving, Chandi Mandap, Sripur

The Chandi Mandap constructed in 1707 by the Mitra Mustafi family, has recently been declared a protected monument. The hay thatched roof has been replaced with corrugated sheet, thus robbing it of its former beauty and grace. But the real wonder lies inside the Mandap, where the Durga Pujo is held to this day. The three walls of the Chandi Mandap are decorated with the most intricate wood curved panels. The wooden panels are very similar to the terracotta panels that dot the walls of the numerous temples of Bengal. But the wood work is not restricted to the panels alone. The pillars and the roof beams are curved with the finest floral, geometric & figurative designs.

The temple complex houses a octagonal Rash Mancha, complete with nine pinnacles (one each at the eight corners and a larger central one) and an Nat Mandir with elegant pillars. The main temple housing dedicated to Radha Gobinda has totally been transformed into a modern structure.

Boat Construction, Sripur

Boat Construction, Sripur

Bidding farewell to the temple complex head for one of the numerous boat work – shops. Although the Sripur boat industry is now only restricted to small boats but it is still a great experience seeing the boat taking shape. You are also likely come across some over enthusiastic boat maker narrating you about the glorious days of the boat construction industry of Sripur.

Head past the Sripur Bazar to the banks of the Hooghly, where the fresh air will add an extra dash of oxygen to your tired lungs.

Reference:

  • Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharya.

Related links from my Personal Website:

List of my Blog entry on West Bengal

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