26 Shiv Mandir at Ramhari Biswas Ghat Road, Khardah in North 24 Parganas by the side of the Ganges is a protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) (Kolkata circle).
All the temples are of aatchala (eight roofed) style of Bengal’s temple architecture. The temples were founded by Ramhari Biswas and Pran Krishna Biswas, the then landlords of Khardah in the early years of the nineteenth century. When we think of Shiv mandir, the first thing that comes to our mind is Dwadosh jyotirlingam and the twelve shrines are situated in different parts of India. There are many temples in West Bengal which have twelve Shiva temples in the same temple complex. But here in Khardah the temples are not twelve but twenty six in number and they are divided into two groups. As you head towards the Ganges ghat, one will see twenty temples in a separate enclosure and there is a gate for the entry.
The rest six temples which are towards the right of the ghat, are placed in a separate enclosure and are facing the river. These six temples are comparatively well maintained. A flight of stairs will lead you to the temples.
Each temple has a Shiva lingam possibly made of kosthi pathar touchstone. The front door contains stucco works with floral motifs and they are visible in the other temples of the bigger complex also.
The temples are on a raised platform made of bricks and some have undergone renovation.
The temples of the bigger complex are designed in such a way that six temples are on the opposite side (amounting to twelve in number) and four each on the other sides facing each other (amounting to eight). There are two temples each on both sides of the gate.
The temples which have undergone renovation are of different colour. The courtyard is rectangular in shape. I have been told by the locals that during the Nil puja which falls in the Bengali month of Chaitra (mid April) devotees crowd this area and offer puja to Lord Shiva.
In order to visit the temple complex, one can either go by train or by bus. If you select the train route, board any train of Sealdah-Krishnanagar route and get down at Khardah station. Take a rickshaw and reach the temple complex. If you are going by bus route, take any bus from Shyambazar 5-point crossing which goes to Barrackpore. Get down at Khardah stoppage and you either choose rickshaw, toto or even auto to reach 26 Shiv Mandir.
Date of posting: 25th October, 2018.