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Posts Tagged ‘Day Trips from Calcutta (Kolkata)’

Hanseswari Temple and Ananta Basudev Temple, Bansberia, Hooghly

September 18, 2016 1 comment

Hanseswari Temple and Ananta Basudev Temple

Bansberia, Hooghly

The history of Bansberia dates back to the days of Shah Jahan. In 1656, the Mughal emperor appointed Raghab Dattaroy of Patuli as the zamindar of an area that includes the present-day Bansberia. Legend has it that Raghab’s son Rameshwar cleared a bamboo grove to build a fort, inspiring the name Bansberia.

L: Ananta Basudev Temple & R: Hanseswari Temple, Bansberia, Hooghly

L: Ananta Basudev Temple & R: Hanseswari Temple, Bansberia, Hooghly

Bansberia was also one of the important villages of the Saptagram (a unit of seven villages), an important port town in medieval Bengal. Its importance in pre-Muslim Bengal was religious, owing to its location at the Tribeni or confluence of three rivers.

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Lakshmi Janardhan Temple, Debipur

August 28, 2016 2 comments

Lakshmi Janardhan Temple, Debipur

A towering rekh deul temple

Lakshmi Janardhan Temple, Debipur

Lakshmi Janardhan Temple, Debipur

The nondescript village of Debipur, located on the Howrah – Bardhman main line has a distinction of housing a towering temple.

For the most comfortable journey it is best to take the Bardhman Local (Main) from Howrah. It takes about one and half hour to reach Debipur.

A short bus or trekker ride from Debipur station takes you to Shivtala, where the towering Lakshmi Janardhan Temple (Lakshmi Janardan Temple) is located.

Before reaching the Lakshmi Kanardhan Temple the visitors will be welcomed by a unique structure at the Shivtala bus stop.

This structure consists of three connected structures built on a single raised platform. The structures on the side are aat – chal (8 sloped roof) shiva temples.

The central structure is a dol mancha. The open dol mancha, stands on a elevated platform and towers above both the temples.

The structure contains beautiful terracotta ornamentation on its front surface, including a false door way, below the dol mancha. A marble plaque on the doorway indicates that the structure was constructed in 1283 of Bengali calendar which is equivalent to 1836.

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Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

January 30, 2013 7 comments

Komagata Maru Memorial

Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Just 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.

“The visions of men are widened by travel and contacts with citizens of a free country will infuse a spirit of independence and foster yearnings for freedom in the minds of the emasculated subjects of alien rule.”

~ Gurdit Singh

In 1914, a wealthy Indian fisherman settled in Singapore, Gurdit Singh Sandhu, did quite the unthinkable. He chartered a Japanese steamship of 3,000-odd gross register tonnage to transport a large number of his Punjabi brethren from India to Canada in a bid to outsmart the tough immigration laws the northern American country had imposed to keep Asians out.

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Palpara Brick Temple

August 1, 2012 2 comments

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.

Palpara Brick Temple

Palpara Brick Temple

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, although the foundation plaque containing necessary information like name of founder and year of foundation has long been lost. The temple standing on a square base, and crowned with the four sloping roofs, rises to a height of 21 meters.

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Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

July 25, 2012 17 comments

Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

Space age view of century old temples

It was a winter Sunday morning almost a decade ago, when I desperately panned my SLR film camera (Vivitar v3800s) to shoot a panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The negative and the prints still at my possession but by limited dark room knowledge was not enough to stitch up the panorama.

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

A decade later in April 2012 I was back again at the same spot where I panned my DSLR (Nikkon D60) to shoot a 8 shot panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The shots were stitched up in a matter of minutes in my digital darkroom.

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KULPI ~ ABONDONED LIGHTHOUSES & MYSTERIOUS GRAVE

May 16, 2012 3 comments

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.

Boats at Kulpi

Boats at Kulpi

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.

Military Road, Kulpi

Military Road, Kulpi

Get down at Shyam Bose Chlak at Kulpi, cross the road and take a brick paved road heading towards the river Hooghly. The road meanders through agricultural fields and village huts towards the river Hooghly. Locally called the Milatary Road, probably named, because it lead to a small fort  by the river. The Fort has long been swallowed by the river Hooghly but the name “Milatery Road” has some how survived the test of time.

Soon two tower like structures appear in the horizon. There elegant structure and shape distinguishes them from the numerous brick kiln chimneys that dot the Hooghly River bank.

Abondoned Light Houses (Left: Engineberia, Right: Kalitala)

Abondoned Light Houses (Left: Engineberia, Right: Kalitala)

One on the right of the road (pic right) dates back to the days of East India Company. Towering to a height of 25 feet it is probably less than half its original height. Measuring 10 feet in circumference, it probably acted as a lighthouse guiding ships along the Hooghly.

Mana Bibi r Gore, Grave of Manna Bibi, Durganagar, Kulpi

Mana Bibi r Gore, Grave of Manna Bibi, Durganagar, Kulpi

A little away on the left hand side of the road lies another tower like structure. Probably built just before independence this structure does not have much historical value. Much slender than its older counterpart but measuring lesser in circumference, the tower still contains few metal hooks on its outside, probably used for climbing to the top.

Head south along the Hooghly but sadly the river is out of view as the bank is lined with brick kilns. Cross a narrow canal, with several anchored boats. leading to the Hooghly. Just after the canal the path leads to the village of Durganagar, housing a strange baro – chal (12 sloped roofs) structure. Baro – chala is an extremely rare form of Bengal temple structure, where the standard aat – chala (4 sloped roofs) is toped with anothe smaller char – chal (4 sloped roofs) structure.

Strangely this structure is not a Hindu temple but a grave of a converted Christian lady. Sagar Chattapodhay in his book “Dakhin 24 Pargan r Purakirti” describes it as the “Manna Bibi r Gore,” the grave of Manna Bibi, a grave of local lady who married a Portuguese sailor or soldier.

The structure have no European or Portuguese influence. Although historical records suggest the finding of a terracotta idol (7 inches in length) of a Portuguese soldier from near the structure. Sadly the idol have long been missing. Trees have almost covered the entire upper part of the structure making it difficult to understand the unique details.

Locals are totally unaware of the historical significance of the structure, and believe it to be an abandoned Hindu temple, which later on functioned as a lighthouse for the ships on Hooghly. Although there are historical evidences of the structure serving as a lighthouse but there are no evidences of being a Hindu Temple. A little bit of interaction with the locals will lead to strange stories of hidden treasures buried deep inside the structure!!!!!

Sadly the strange temple like structure housing the remains of an unknown lady, lies in utter neglect. The roots of the trees have made their entry deep in the structure brining it on the verge of collapse, its a miracle that the structure still stands.

Reference:

  • Dakshin Chabis Pargana Jelar Purakirti by Sagar Chattopadhyay

Chandannagar ~ A slice of France

March 14, 2012 14 comments

About 100 years after Vasco da Gama landed in the west cost of India the European traders started making inroads into Bengal. Bandel became a stronghold of the Portuguese while the Danes and the Dutch had their supremacy in Srerampur and Chuchura respectively.

Chandannagor was the French colony. Unlike the other European colonies of Bengal the French control of Chandannagar continued even after independence and it was only in 1950 Chandannagar became a part of India.

Once a beautiful town with French masons and boulevards, Chandannagar has lost most of its past glory. Today it represents a crowded unplanned town on the Howrah – Burdwan main line. A few of the French buildings have passed the test of time and can still be seen today reminding one of the French days of Chandannagar, offering a French holiday with a distinctive Bengali twist.

Left: Dupleix Palace (now museum), Right: French Fort (now court)

Left: Dupleix Palace (now museum), Right: French Fort (now court)

The largest concentration of colonial building is along the Hooghly and is known as The Strand, and is still considered as the most beautiful stretch along the entire Hooghly.

Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Just off The Strand is the Sacred Heart Church, on of the prime attraction of Chandannagar. A statue of Jesus greats the visitors to the two storied church complete with twin towers. A marble plaque says that the church was inaugurated by Father Goethals on 27 January 1884.

Interior has beautiful stained glasses and walls contain coloured reliefs of Jesus carrying the cross. Long corridors and confession boxes add a dignity to the church interior. Sadly the church is not well maintained with plasters peeling off at several places.

Stained Glass, Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Stained Glass, Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

The Chandnnagar Strand is dominated by the Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat. Built in 1920s in honor of Durgacharan Rakshit, the recipient of the French award of Legion d’honneur. The elegant looking pavilion consists of slender columns with decorative stucco works consisting of elephant’s head and floral design.

Left: Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat, Chandannagar Right: Details of stucco work

Left: Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat, Chandannagar Right: Details of stucco work

Chandannagar Gate

Chandannagar Gate

Also along the river lies the Duplex’s Mansion, now the Chandannagar Museum & Institute, housing a rare collection of French artifacts, including personal collection of Duplex, the French Governor of Chandannagar.

Just in front of the museum is an elegant mansion called the Patal Bari (Underground House) as a portion of the house is submerged by the Hooghly River. The Patal Bari, with is beautiful wooden sunshades and decorative water outlets, has a long list of distinguished visitors including Rabindranath Tagore & Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar.

Nandadulal Temple, Chandannagar

Nandadulal Temple, Chandannagar

The northern and southern entry point to Chandannagar is marked is marked with two entry gates. The northern gate no longer exists but the southern gate, although encroached by banners and festoons can still be seen today. The gate consists of two square pillars topped with urns. Inaguarated on 14 July 1937, in memory of the fall of Bastille, which tiggered off the famous French Revolution. The gate contains the slogan of French Revolution “Liberte, Egalite & Fratarnite” which translated into English is “Liberty, Equality & Fraternity.”

Buroshivtala Terracotta Temple

Buroshivtala Terracotta Temple

Although a French Colony for 275 years (1678 – 1950). The heritage of Chandannagar is not restricted to French architecture only. The town also houses several temples, including Nandadulal Temple. Standing on a rectangular base of 52 feet by 21 feet it is the largest do – chala (double sloped roof) temple of Bengal. Sadly apart from a few lotus motifs it totally lacks terracotta work, which is the trade mark of Hooghly Temples.

Hooghly is famous for its terracotta temples, and Chandannagar is no exception so terracotta enthusiasts shouldn’t be disheartened as the Boro Shvtala area of Chandannagar houses a spectacular nine pinnacled terracotta temple.

The temple has triple arch entrance of two sides along with intricate terracotta panels. The two side entrances of the triple arched entrance on both side are false and only the central arch entrance operates. The temple also houses a giant Shiva – Linga.

Reference:

  • Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharya

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List of my Blog entry on West Bengal