Serampore, a sub-divisional town in Hooghly district of West Bengal is about 18 kilometres from Howrah and is the eight station in Howrah-Bandel line of Eastern Railway. Grand Trunk Road passes through this town. The town can be reached either by road or by river apart from the rail route. This town has a rich history to offer. The Danes named this town as Fredericknagar in 1757 in the name of the then King Frederick V of Denmark.
Previously the Goswamis were the zamindars of this area. It was said that Rudraram Pandit of Chatra used to worship at Ballavpur, which is about two kilometres from Serampore. At that time the area is covered with forests. Lord Krishna was very much satisfied at Rudraram’s worship and came there in the form of an ascetic and asked him to bring the stone from the Sultan of Gaur and to prepare his idol. As per the direction received Rudraram went to Gaur and was worried about how to bring that heavy stone from there. Later in dream he was told to immerse the stone in the nearby river. Rudraram did the same as per the direction and returned to Ballavpur. He was much surprised after reaching Ballavpur that the stone had already reached there. It was only possible by God’s grace.
The stone was actually kasthipathar (touch stone); and from it three Krishna idols were made – the first was named as Radhaballav and was worshipped in Serampore; (It is to be noted that from Radhaballav, the place is known as Ballavpur.) the second worshipped in Khardah as Shyamsundar and the third worshipped as Nandadulal in Saibon. Both Khardah and Saibon are presently in North 24 Parganas.
The Radhaballav Temple was built around 1677 by Rudraram with the assistance of other disciples. Later when the temple got deserted, the present aatchala temple was built by Nayanchand Mullick in 1764. The temple along with the naatmandir is pretty large in size. The temple is about 60 feet in height. The temple along with the rasmancha have undergone repair and renovation by Birla Janakalyan Trust, Calcutta in 1973.
The main festival here is Rashyatra normally held in the month of November every year. An octagonal rasmancha dedicated to Radhaballavji is situated a little away from the temple by the side of the Ganges. The rasmancha is placed on a higher pedastal. There are eight domes on the eight walls. A close look will reveal beautiful motifs.
Hooghly Jelar Purakriti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee
Date of posting: 16th May, 2019.