Friday, December 4, 2015

The temples and architechtural marvels of Bishnupur: Jor Bangla temple , Radha Laljiu Temple and madanmohan Temple

As the continuation of my last post about archeological marvels of Bishnupur on 2nd December 2015 I'll try to describe three more temples of this temple city in this post

Jor Bangla temple ( Kesto Rai Temple):
  The inscription , affixed on the front facade of the temple , proclaims that Malla king Raghunath Singha erected this temple on 1655 AD. This South Facing temple is 11.8 mt long, 11.7  mt wide and 10.7 mt high. On a square platform , this temple consists of a pair of hut shaped ( huts found in rural Bengal) structures with sloping roofs joined together and surmounted by a “ Charchala Sikhara” on the top. 

Jor Bangla temple or Kesto Rai Temple

Terracotta panel on the facade of Jorbangla Temple

    Both the interiors and exteriors and ceiling of the temple are decorated with top class terracotta ornamentation which narrates the stories of  Ramayana ,  Purana , Krishnalila and depicts the scenes of hunting and other contemporary social life.

The Farmer on Jorbangla Temple

Description of fight on Jorbangla Temple facade

The hair dresser on Jorbangla Temple

Radha Laljiu Temple  ( Lalji Temple):
 Inscriptional evidences on the Southern facade of the temple says that king Bir Singha II of Malla Dynasty built this temple in 1658AD and dedicated to Sriradhika and Lord Krishna for their pleasure. Square in plan and placed upon a raised plinth , this temple isb12.3 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt high and enclosed by a boundary wall and surmounted by a single “Sikhara” or pinnacle ( Ekratna temple). Traces of  ornamental stucco decorations on low relief carvings can still be seen on the front wall. The idol of this temple is now relocated in the newly constructed temple in the Krishnagunj Mahalla. As the continuation of my last post about archeological marvels of Bishnupur on 2nd December 2015 I'll try to describe three more temples of this temple city in this post

Radha Laljiu Temple  or Lalji Temple

Madanmohan Temple:

 This temple, built by Malla King Durjan Singha in 1694 , is 12.2 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt  high. It is one of the finest example of this type of brick temple with a single Sikhara on a curved  Bengal chala roof. It’s terracotta pannels are also noteworthy and includes different types of animals, fighting scenes , hunting scenes etc.  

Madanmohan Temple

The Musicians on Madanmohan Temple panel

Ducks on Madanmohan Temple panel

The Successful hunters on the base panel of Madanmohan Temple

Other posts on Temples of Bishnupur

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The temples and architechtural marvels of Bishnupur : Shyamrai Temple (or Panchchura Temple )and Radhashyam Temple

    Bishnupur town in Bankura district of West Bengal is known as temple city of Bengal since long. Several temples having mesmerizing “ Terra Cotta ( Baked clay work ) art works, gates and other architectural marvels , lakes ( Bandhs) , famous Baluchari Sharis , the discrete wing of  music ( Bishnupur Gharana) , Dashabatar Cards etc made Bishnupur a city with full of heritage. All these art forms evolved due to the active patronage of the “Malla” dynasty kings who ruled this part between 7th century AD to the  1st half of 20th century. The dynasty started with Raghunath or Adimalla who crowned in 694 AD ( Bengali year 101) and instigated the “Mallabda” after his name. As he was an eminent and efficient “ Mallabir” ( wrestler) in his young age , hence the dynasty got the name “ Malla”. The 49th Malla King Bir Hambir or Hambir Malla became a Vaishnab (worshiper of Lord Krishna) , he and his descendants started to build up these temples, one after another for Lord Krishna and named these temples after various names of Krishna.

Shyamrai Temple or Panchchura Temple:

Frontal view of the temple

The inscription on the wall of this south facing temple proclaims  - “ Sri Radhika Krishnamude Shakenkabe/ Danka Yukte Nabaratnaratang/ Sri Bir Hambir/ Naresha sunurdadau nripa Sri Raghunath/ Singha // Malla Sake 949/ SriRaja Birsingha”  Which means Raghunath Singha , the son of King Bir Hambir dedicated this  Nabaratna  temple for the pleasure of Radha –Krishna in 949 Mallabda ( 1643 AD). Standing on a low square plinth, this brick temple is 11.4 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt high and noted for its elaborate terracotta ornamentations which include  the story of Ramayana, Mahabharata , Rasamandala, Purans and contemporary  socio- religious themes.

The Archer

The Dholak Player

Krishna with Gopinis

 The square sanctum is surrounded by an ambulatory pathway with a porch opened by three multi cusped arches on four sides. Of the five “ Sikharas” or “ Churas” (or Pinnacle, hence the name “ Panchchura temple”) , the central one is octahedral ( the original one collapsed) and the other four are square , resting upon the four corners of a sloping roof in “ Pida” order.

The Terracotta artwork on the pillars and facade of the temple

The Rasachakra

Radhashyam Temple:

The Dedicatory inscription on the frontal facade of this temple indicates that Malla king Chaitanya Singha built this temple in 1758 AD. Square on plan , this Makra stone ( Laterite) temple is 12.5 mt in length and breadth and 10.7 mt high and stands within a large yard enclosed by high boundary wall. The “Sikhara” or “Chura” or “Ratna” (Pinnacle) of this temple is dome shaped and slightly different from other “ Ekratna” temples of Bishnupur. The outer walls are fashioned with carvings in low relief , which are decorated with fine stucco work. These decorative motifs include both geometric and floral patterns, epic and Puran stories. At the entrance , there is a  brick – constructed “ Nahabatkhana” where arists used to play “ Sehnai” in the past.  There is also a kitchen and “Tulsi Mancha” (Orissa style) in the East and a “ Natamancha” in the  South . The idols of Lord Radhyashyam, Nitai – Gour  and Lord Jagannatha are worshiped in this temple. 

The entrance of the Radhashyam  Temple

Radhashyam Temple with Nahabatkhana and Tulsimancha

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Keoladeo Ghana National Park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

The History of Keoladeo Ghana National Park:

Keoladeo Ghana National Park, better known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is a very popular birding spot in Western India for decades. Situated at the border of U.P and Rajasthan, 52 km from Agra, it primarily was a duck shooting reserve of Maharanas of Bharatpur and the British officials since 18th century. Maharaja Suraj Mahl, famous Jat ruler of the princely state of Bharatpur, constructed “Ajan bund” (dam) between 1726-1763 to save the town of Bharatpur from recurring floods as this region was low lying than two rivers Banganga and Gambhiri. The depression caused due to removal of soil to build the Dam was later filled up by flood water during monsoons and resulted in perfect conditions for a wide variety of waterfowl to flock here and converted into a private reservoir of Suraj Mahl. In 1902, Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India formally inaugurated the hunting reserve with an organized duck shoot. 12th November, 1938, a total of 4273 ducks were shot, of which the then Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, alone killed around 2000. A series of marble plates near the Keoladeo temple inside the park proclaims the history of such killing . The 28.72 sq. km area was declared “Sanctuary” in 1956 by Govt. of Rajasthan and put under control of Dept. of Forest but duck shooting continued till the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The status was upgraded into “National Park” in 1981 and in 1985 UNESCO certified it as “World Heritage Site”. The name “Keoladeo Ghana National Park” has been derived from the name of an ancient Shiva temple, situated within the park and the word 'Ghana' means dense forest.

The Guide Map of KNP

Painted stork with catch

Indian Robin ( Male)

Darter tossing it's catch

 Rich Biodiversity of Keoladeo Ghana National Park  

  Though  the name suggests it is a bird sanctuary , and people from around the globe come here to watch and photograph birds mainly , yet this park is rich in wide range of  biodiversity and houses (a) more than 350 bird species (including more than 110 migratory) belonging to 56 families, (b) 27 species of mammals like Neel Gai (Blue bull), spotted deer, Sambhar, wild boar, Jackal etc and even a lone leopard was seen from Sept 1987 to May 1998, a tigress was seen during 2000 – 2004 and another tiger had  been reported in 2010. ( C) 5 lizard species, 13 snake species, seven turtle species (out of 10 that are seen in Rajasthan) (d) 43 species (about 50% of the total fish species found in Rajasthan) , (e) About 379 species of plants (including 96 wetland species).


Blue Bull ( Neel Gai ) , Female

Blue Bull ( Neel Gai ) , Male


This park always fascinates me whenever I go for a visit. "No motor vehicle after the second gate" policy  makes it more special to me. Yes here jungle safari is to be done by paddle rickshaws or in bicycles . the Rickshaw pullers are predominantly Sikh ( don't know if there is any story in history ) and are well aware about the birds English names, habits etc and hence can play the role of guide for the common tourists. But there are several  trained naturalists also to help more serious tourists ( obviously in lieu of extra charge) . For serious photography , cycle is the best option  which can be hired from the entrance .  At the entrance ticket counter you can get the map of entire park to travel your own without any difficulty.

Black Redstart


Pond Heron With Catch

Brahmani Starling

Important Information:
    A)Nearest railhead is Bharatpur from where the park and accommodations are only few km away and can be reached by rickshaw, auto or car. Direct trains to Bharatpur station are very limited . Alternate options are 
    a) reach Agra by train and then reach the park by road which is 52 km away.
   b) reach KNP by road from Delhi 
      B) there are lots of hotels/resorts/guest houses around KNP , you can chose according to your budget. I always stay at Iora Guest House. The owner Devendra Sing himself is an eminent naturalist and wildlife photographer . The booking can be done by dialing 09461643412

Sambar ( Male)

Sambar ( Female)

Sarus Crane : The Largest Flying Bird Of India

Grey Heron With Catch