Bishnupur (or Vishnupur) in the Bankura district is like a breath
of fresh air after Kolkatas heat and dust. The verdant fields
you traverse to get to this town, just 151 km away, serve as a harbinger
of the surprise that is Bishnupur. This town of terracotta temples
and man-made lakes echoes with the history of the Malla rulers who
made it their 16th century capital.
Since Bishnupur had no stone for construction, the Malla kings built
terracotta temples to celebrate
their love for Krishna, the Blue God. These temples have elaborate
architecture that merges hybrid styles. Filigreed terracotta tiles
carve out stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Some of the
temples you must visit are the Shyam Ray Temple, the twin shrines
of Jorbangla, the Radhey Shyam Temple, the Sarbamangala and Chinnamasta.
The Rass Mancha, built like a step-pyramid, is Bishnupurs
most famous temple dedicated to Vishnu.
Another attraction is the embellished Dol Madol cannon, constructed
in 1742 by Raja Gopal Singh to keep the Maratha troops at bay. Visit
the Jogesh Chandra Archaeological Centre to see Malla-dynasty relics.
The Mallas also built huge Bandhs or embankments and
artificial lakes to beautify their capital and to serve as a protective
moat to repel their enemies. These shimmering lakes - the Lalbandh,
Krishnabandh and the Jamuna Bandh amongst others - cool the town
Besides temples, Bishnupur is known for its pottery, especially
the lovable terracotta horse called Bankura who is the mascot of
Bankura handicraft. Baluchari and tussar silk sarees, bell metal
and shell handicraft and the quaint circular playing cards called
ganijifa, are other specialties of Bishnupur that you might want
to shop for.
Fairs & Festival
In the month of August, Bishnupur resounds with the mesmerizing
lilt of the snake charmers pipes. The annual festival of Jhapan
is celebrated with snake shows and snake fights, to revere Goddess
Manasa, the dominant deity of the snake-worship cult. The weeklong
Bishnupur Mela brings the entire town alive with a cultural retrospective
towards the end of December.
famous art form of Bishnupur is its terracotta work. The exquisite
craftsmanship of the terracotta artisans is evident in the Madanmohana
Temple and the Shyam Rai Temple. The temple walls are richly decorated
with the carvings of different aspects of Krishna's life-playing
with Radha and the other milkmaids, incarnations of Vishnu, etc.
One of the most expensive saris in India called the Baluchari saris
are created by craftsmen of this place. The silk strands are dyed
separately and then put into a loom. Designs are woven with the
help of a series of punch cards that are hung from the top of the
loom. These punch cards are rectangular pieces of cardboard with
hundreds of holes punched according to the design.
The colored strands pass through these holes and fall into place
very precisely on the loom. One sari may have an entire episode
from the Mahabharata woven into its border and pallu.
Bishnupur is 151 km from Kolkata by road. A number of buses leave
Kolkatas Esplanade and Shahid Minar Bus Terminus. The distance
by rail is 219 km, with direct trains from Howrah to Bishnupur.
Bishnupur has a moderate and humid climate; with summer temperatures
around 32ºC and winter temperatures at 10-20ºC. Carry
light cotton clothes and sun protection.
General Information & Accomdation info on Bishnupur city of
West Bengal - India