Kolkata - Bishnupur
We were on to Bankura, the terracotta-horse town. It was an interesting journey through the crowds and chaos of Bardhaman and the urban scene of Durgapur. I have never had the occasion to see as many millions of cycle rickshaws as in Bardhaman. They clogged the roads. Worse they were crowding around th entry and exit of the Railway Station. Bardhaman is supposed to be reckoned as the heritage city of West Bengal and, they say, there is much to see but I got upset by the unruly cycle rickshaws. So we headed further north towards Bankura.
Bankura is just like any mofussil town - dusty and disorganized. Shops are here, there and everywhere. The most visible thing that is on sale is the famed Bankura horse – of terracotta as well of wood – of various dimensions. Some were carefully worked on, some even had semi-precious stones affixed at strategic places to make them look more beautiful. I had two huge terracotta horses of about 6 ft. height in my office so I was not really interested. My wife did buy some for gifting away.
We then moved into Bishnupur which is known for its terracotta temples. We have been almost all over India where we had seen temples made of granite, sandstone, marble or slate but we had never come across terracotta temples. Bishnupur has them in quite good numbers. Some of them even have living deities.
Bishnupur is a municipality in the Bamkura Distt. Ironically there was a time, of course, long back when Bankura used to be within the administrative jurisdiction of Bishnupur. But the times have changed and Bankura got developed leaving Bishnupur behind. The history of Bishnupur stretches back to the Gupta period but for our purposes its recent history is more relevant. For almost a thousand years Bishnupur was the capital of Mallabhum ruled by Mallas of which Bankura was a part. The Malla rulers were Vaishnavites and they built here the exquisite terracotta buildings including temples. These have now become objects of tourists’ interest.
Although the place required many more days we could spend only two days as we had to get back to Kolkata. To that extent our experience was poorer.