Located about 12 kms from the temple town of Tarakeshwar, Dasghara is famous for the pancha ratna (five pinnacled) Gopinath temple with ridged rekha turrets containing exquisite terracotta works built in 1729 by Sadananda Biswas along with other temples and structures. The architectural splendour consists not only in temples but also in great mansions, clock towers and ofcourse, the Rathyatra.
To reach Dasghara, take any Tarakeshwar bound train from Howrah station and get down at the pilgrim town of Tarakeshwar. From there board any bus that will take you to Dasghara. A little more than thirty minutes ride will land you to Dasghara. This year on the auspicious day of Rathyatra I went to Dasghara to witness the famous Rathyatra .
I got down at the Bazaar para and after walking for nearly fifteen minutes I reach the Biswas mansion. It was a sultry July afternoon but I was pretty lucky to witnesss the Rathyatra and the fair. I forgot both the distance and the hot sun as I entered the Biswas mansion. On my way I found the Gopisagar lake the water of which is crystal clear. The reflection of the Biswas mansion is clearly visible on the waters of the lake.
I went first to the famous Gopinath temple which is west-facing. The panels depict exquisite terracotta works from tales of Ramayana, pictures of both birds and animals along with floral motifs and scene from the royal court. It has also representation of Kali. The temple is well maintained. Like other terracotta temples of Bengal, this temple has also triple arched entrance.
I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of both Gopinathji and Gobindaji. The idol of Gobindaji was taken from the temple by a palanquin to be seated inside the nine spired (chura) rath or chatriot.
Left: Radha Gopinathji and Right: Radha Gobindaji
I was told by Shri Amit Biswas of Biswas Bari that a registered trust was formed way back in 1874 by five babus. As per the trust deed two hundred rupees was earmarked for Rathyatra. In the same year a new charot was built and Radha Gopinath Jiu were placed inside the chariot but a sad event occured on the day of Rathayatra. Later it was said that Gopinathji in a dream advised that he would henceforward not board the chariot as he was frightened to board the same; instead Gobindaji will board it. From then onwards the idols of Radha Gobindaji were placed inside the chariot and this custom is still being followed. Shri Biswas also told me that the first chariot which was made got damaged and in 1950 a new one with wooden frame was built. That was a thirteen chura rath. Then about ten years back another chariot – the present one was prepared and it consists of nine churas.
I waited till late in the evening to witness the grand event. Radha Gobindaji were taken outside by the temple and then by a palanquin will reach the place where the chariot stands. The entire locality was filled with festive mood as people – both young and old followed the palanquin.
Biswas bari also houses a Durga dalaan where Durga puja is held every year with great pomp and gaiety. During the time, family members came here to witness this grand event. Bali or animal sacrifice is also performed. As per the registered deed of 1874, four hundred rupees was earmarked for Durga puja.
Biswas mansion also houses a charchala or four roofed square shaped Dolmancha with terracotta works and an octagonal Rashmancha. I have been told that apart from the Rash festival and Dol festival, other festivals like Janmastami, Snanyatra and Jhulan are also held here. The Rashmancha was prepared by the family members of mejo taraf while that of the Dolmancha by choto taraf.
The Dolmancha, Rashmancha and the Durga dalaan were all built towards the end of the eighteenth century. There is also a Shiva temple present within the same compound. The six strong majestic pillars to the entrance of the Biswas mansion reminds us of the bygone days.
The architectural wonder of Dasghara is not restricted to Biswas family alone but also to the Roys. Bipinkrishna Roy built the famous octagonal clock tower with the arched gateway of the European style, thus making the village of Dasghara a place of importance. The gateway resembles that of the Governor’s house of Kolkata. He built the Roy mansion, Durga dalaan and a temple. The arched gateway is crowned with two statues of lion on either side. The European together with Indian styled architecture make Dasghara an unique place to visit.
1. Hooghly Jelar Purakriti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee;
2. Brick Temples of Bengal – David McCutchion.
I am also indebted to Sri. Amit Biswas of Biswas Bari, Dasghara and Sri Arup De who actually made my Dasghara trip possible.
Date of posting: 22nd July, 2019.