Bishnupur - A Trip Down The Memory Lane - Last Part

Last night when we had arrived at our destination, it was already dark. So we did not have a chance to explore the vicinity of the bungalow we were staying at. Next day we got up early (read, we had to get up early) and started our expedition. The bungalow was built in the British period and the mark of the most sophisticated race (I’m sorry but I do think they are the most sophisticated race ever despite their tendency to want to own everything that was not rightfully theirs) was still evident everywhere.  The servants’ quarter was situated at the backside of the property where the caretaker lived. The garden in the front porch was well maintained. 

There was a small gate at the back end of the yard that opened to the railway station of Bishnupur. We hung around there for a while watching trains passing by in regular interval.

Bishnupur is a place where history can be found loitering carelessly amidst the hustle bustle of the town only to amaze the tourist with a pleasant dose of surprise. Most of the temples date back to 17th – 18th century when Malla dynasty had reached its peak.
The origin of the Malla dynasty is a controversial one. Some says the dynasty was named after the first king, Adi Malla who was a wrestler. Legend says that around 695 A.D. a king of Northern India (to be precise, king of Jainagar, Vrindavan, as per Annals of Rural Bengal by Sir William Hunter) set out on a pilgrimage to Purushottam or modern Puri Dham of Odisha. He had to make a halt amidst a great forest (Joypur forest?) near Bankura as his wife was about to give birth to his baby. The queen gave birth to a baby boy. The king left the queen and the baby at a Brahmin’s house and resumed his journey. Apparently he never came back and the boy grew up in that Brahmin’s house. The boy used to cowherd the cattle of the Brahmin. One day when he was 7 years old, he fell asleep in the middle of the field. The Brahmin came looking for him and observed with great amazement that two huge cobras raising their hoods above the sleeping boy’s face, shielding him from the ray of the sun. The Brahmin realised that he was no ordinary boy and started giving him proper education. The boy also grew up to be a great wrestler and eventually he succeeded the Raja of Panchamgarh as the tribal king of Bishnupur and took the title of Adi Malla. Malla is the Sanskrit word for ‘wrestler’. Although historians argue that ‘Malla’ actually was originated from the word ‘Mal’ which was an aboriginal tribe living in the vicinity of ancient Bankura. They further argue that the hypothesis of the aboriginal connection of the Malla dynasty only grows stronger by the fact that ancient kings of Bishnupur used to be known as the Bagdi Rajas. Bagdi is also another aboriginal tribe who descended from the Mals.
Aboriginal or Aryan, whatever the actual connection of the Malla dynasty was, Bir Hambir was unequivocally the greatest of all Malla kings. He was famous for his bravery and warfare skill. He was loyal to the Mughals and fought again the Afghans all his life. He was converted to Vaishnavism by Srinivasa. Myth says that when Srinivasa left Vrindavan for Gaur, he and other disciples were robbed on the way by Bir Hambir. But later Srinivasa so overwhelmed the king by reading Bhagavata that he decided to become a Vaishnav himself.

Ras Mancha was built in 1600 by king Bir Hambir. It is the oldest of all brick temples of Bishnupur. It is famous for its unusual pyramidical structure surrounded by brick huts. Architecturally, it is unique among all other Indian temples.

Madanmohan temple was built in 1694. Madanmohan is another name of Lord Vishnu. He was the patron god of the Malla kings. Intricate terracotta works on the temple was truly breathtaking.

This gateway was built in the second half of the 17th century by King Bir Singha. It was the northern entrance to the ancient fort of Bishnupur. It had double storied gallery to accomodate the troops and arrow slits for the archers. I wish I had taken better pictures of this amazing piece of architecture, but I used to be a bad photographer back then.

Lalji temple. Built in 1658 by king Bir Singha II.

Jor Bangla temple or Kesto Roy temple was built in 1655 by king Raghunath Singha Dev II. It is called Jor Bangla because two twin hut shaped turrets were joined together by one towering roof or shikhara.

Next day we started very early in the morning, before even the sun came up. Our two days' short time travel to the age of the Malla kings was over. The time had come to bid adieu to the temple town and its delightful history. It's time to get back to the present time.

                                                                                                                                          The end