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Bishnupur

The historic town of Bishnupur is famous for its unique and ancient terracotta temples (an art indigenous to this region), built by the Malla Kings. Bishnupur has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage Site accreditation.

Named for a derivative of the name Vishnu, Bishnupur is situated in the Bankura district of West Bengal, and is merely 5 hours drive from Kolkata.

Bishnupur was the capital of the Mallabhumi Kingdom of the “Malla” kings. They ruled in this area for a long time, and Bishnupur became a very important part of the kingdom. The dynasty was in control of a small region until the 8th century, but at the beginning of 16th century the Mallabhumi rulers expanded their reign and became more powerful. This era also witnessed the development of a unique form of architecture and artistry that led to the construction of several terracotta temples.

Malla kings established their supremacy not only on the basis their military prowess, but also assisted in the development of distinct forms of arts, including architecture, sculpture and music. It was during the reign of Malla kings such as Veer Hambir, Raja Raghunath Singh and Veer Singh that Bishnupur became a vital centre of culture and art.

The 30 odd temples in Bishnupur are masterpieces of terracotta art. Most of the temples feature sculptures based on the life of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu, and his lover Radha. One of the most interesting aspects of this construction is that the cementing, unlike in modern days, was done using various indigenous spices such as tamarind, tumeric, fenugreek and others.

The architecture and the structure bear very clear signs of Rajasthani influence. The majority of the temples have a distinctive shape: square buildings that are capped with a curved roof, very similar to a Bengali hut.

The powerful and famous Malla King Birhan Bir created a fort at Bishnupur. The fort enclosed an entire city with several temples built in distinct Bengali style, as well as many lakes and ponds. Although the fort no longer exists, these terracotta temples and ponds have withstood time.

Within the fort area one can find the Shyam Rai, Jore Bangla, Radha Shyam, Lalji, Krishna Balram, Nikunja Bihari, and Kesari Rai temples, while the Kalachand, Radha Madhav, Radha Govinda, Jore Mandir, and Nandalal temples stand near the Lalbundh. The other temples are the Malleswar, Madan Gopal and Madan Mohan temples. By far the oldest temple here is the Rasmancho, which is characterized by its distinct architecture.

Several ancient cannons can also be seen at Bisnupur.  Although these cannons have been exposed to rough weather for several centuries, surprisingly most of them show no signs of rust or weathering. One of the most famous cannons here is named the Dal Madal. 

Bishnupur also has a number of water reservoirs that were constructed by Malla kings to maintain a continuous supply of water for the city. These reservoirs still exist today and can be visited; some of the nicer ones are Lalbundh, Krishnabundh and Shyambundh.

Music
Bishnupur is also famous for the Bishnupur Gharana of Hindustani music, which was started by Bahadur Khan, the descendant of the great Tansen Bahadur Khan. Some of the celebrated exponents of the Bishnupur Gharana include Gyanchandra Prasad Goswami and Ramesh Bandhopadhyay

Jorbangla Temple of Keshta Rai
This beautiful temple was constructed by King Raghunath Singha Dev II somewhere during the end of the 17th century. The temple is elaborately decorated with terracotta carvings that further accentuate the Chala style of architecture of the temple. Locals and visitors throng this pilgrimage center to worship and see its unusual terracotta work.
Panch Ratana temple
This terracotta temple constructed by King Raghunath Singh in the 17th century is famed for its elaborate floral patterns and detailed sculptures. The temple is known as one of the first temples in Bengal to be artistically decorated on such a scale.
Temple of Madanmohana
This Ek Ratna style temple at Bishnupur is characterized by a square flat roof, curved corners and a pinnacled top. The Madanmohana Temple was completed by King Durjana Singh Dev in 1694, and is renowned for its detailed carvings on the temple walls that depict stories from the epics Ramayana and Mahabharat.
Rasmancha
This is one of the oldest brick structures in the shape of a step pyramid. The Rasmancha was constructed in 1587 by Bir Hambir and lies in the heart of the town. The Rasmancha witnesses hectic activities during the Rasa festival when deities from other temples are brought here in a procession. A few cannons belonging to the Malla kings are also a major attraction here.
Mrinmoyee Temple
This gorgeous structure is dedicated to Goddess Durga. It is a very old temple which was constructed in 997. The idol of Goddess Durga residing here is made of clay. One of the main attractions is the holy Nababriksha – nine trees growing as one tree and situated in the temple courtyard. Visitors throng the temple to have glimpse of this rare tree.
Jogesh Chandra Archaeological Centre
This archeological center was established in 1951 to display artifacts belonging to the era of the Malla kings. The center boasts of a unique collection including rare manuscripts, documents, exclusive stone and terracotta sculptures, coins belonging to the early and medieval period, scroll paintings and some rare manuscripts of the medieval period in Sanskrit, Prakrit and Bengali.
Dalmadal Cannon
This huge cannon was constructed in 1742 by Raja Gopal Singh to keep away the Marathas. The intricately carved cannon is nearly 3.8 m long with a barrel of 28.5 cm in diameter.
Bishnupur is known for terracotta art, and you can purchase terracotta toys and dolls. Especially terracota horses, better known as Bankura horses, are very popular. Conch shell and bell metal wares, as well as. Balucahari saris are also famous artefacts of Bishnupur.
Poush Mela, which is also known as the Bishnupur Mela, is celebrated with grandeur and much fanfare here at Bishnupur. This four-day festival is held every year in December.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
KOLKATA - NETAJI SUBHAS CHANDRA INTERNATIONAL 137 Km 02H 20m
Barddhaman Junction 87 Km 01H 29m
Bishnupur 4 Km 00H 05m
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Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 25 °C 45 °C
Winter 12 °C 27 °C
From the middle of March to beginning of June hot westerly winds prevail and heat during day time is oppressive with the mercury shooting to 45 °C. The monsoon months, June to September, are comparatively pleasant and the post Monsoon and Winter months are the best time to visit.
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