Bishnupur or Vishnupur is a little town in the Bankura district of West Bengal. The town was the administrative capital under the reign of the Malla kings. It is believed that the town derives its name from the Hindu God, Vishnu.
Bishnupur has a rich cultural past, and much of this is evident in the architecture and intricate handicraft that the town boasts of. The town is especially known for its intricate terracotta work. Jewellery, artefacts and pottery made of terracotta are particularly known. Bishnupur is also known for its wide variety of Baluchari sarees. Here are five places to visit in Bishnupur.
1. Rasmancha: This historical building was built in 600 century by the Malla King, Vir Hambir. The temple has a unique and unparalleled structure. It stands erect on a square shaped lateral plinth. A pyramidal superstructure covers the plinth. The inner sanctum of the temple is enclosed by three circular shaoed galleries. These galleries are surmounted by a colossal pyramidal structure. Further, these majestic pyramidal structures are embellished with exquisite terracotta work and motifs. Rasmancha was built in order to enable a mass scale worship of the deities during the Ras festival. This was a significant festival during the reign of the Malla kings. During this festival, images of deities from across the town were brought to this temple and venerated. As this mammoth structure lights up during the night, it provides a mesmerizing sight to the devotees.
2. Jorbangla Temple: Jorbangla Temple was built in 1655 A.D by Raghunath Singha, a Malla King. The temple is known for its unique architectural style, particular to Bengal. It draws much from ancient Bengal architecture. The temple is constructed on the shape of two huts surmounted by a tower. One of the two huts serves as a porch, while the inner hut functions as the shrine. The Jorbangla Temple is famed for its opulent terracotta structure and delicate carvings on the walls. The carvings on the walls depict episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other prominent holy scriptures. The temple witnesses an enormous number of devotees from across the globe every year. This temple besides attracting massive numbers of devotees, also witnesses a number of students and archaeologists, who are interested in ancient architecture.
3. Madanmohan Temple: Built in the 17th century, Madanmohan temple is constructed in the Ekaratna (single tower) style. It has a flat square-shaped roof with craved cornices. It is surmounted by a pinnacle. Made of mud and terracotta, the inner walls of the temple depict various scenes from the Hindu scriptures.
4. Dalmadal Kaman Canon: This royal canon was built by Maharaja Bir Humber around 1600 AD. Dala means ‘a group’ and mardan means ‘to destroy’. And true to its name, this mammoth canon, made of 63 iron plates was used to defend the Malla territory against the enemies. Due to the lack of easy availability of pure iron, it is believed that charcoal was used to melt enormous amounts of iron in order to construct Dalmadal Kaman Canon. Moreover, due to its extensive weight, big wheels and elephants were used to carry the canon to the battleground. Legend has it, that the canon was lost after the decline of the Malla dynasty, only to be rediscovered later by the Britishers. This royal canon stands as an example of the great past of Bishnupur.
5. Radhe Govind Temple: The Radhe Govind Temple was built in the 1729 A.D. by Krishna Singha, another of the Malla kings. The structure of this temple resembles the multiple other temples built by the Malla kings in this region. Made of mud and terracotta, this temple is widely known for its intricate craftsmanship. The shrine is devoted to the pair of Radha and Govind and multitudes of devotees from across the globe visit the place in veneration of the two Gods.
The town of Bhisnupur is thus renowned not only for its opulent terracotta work and baluchari saris, but also much frequently visited by devotees who seek calm and peace in the many temples that stand as proofs of the majestic rule of the Malla kings.