Mankundu, being the 12th station in the Howrah-Bandel section of the Eastern Railway has a rich history to offer as far as the Dasabhuja Temple is concerned. The four hundred year old temple has beautiful and intricate terracotta works (though much of it has lost its original glory) and houses the deities of Dasabhuja in astodhatu (an alloy of eight metals) and Radha Krishna.
The temple is of traditional charchala or eight-roofed with triple arched entrance containing terracotta works. The front door of the temple remains closed for most of the time of the day. But there is also an entrance on the right side through which the local priest offers puja twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. When I visited this temple last month in the late morning it was closed as usual. Curious about this temple, I enquired about and came to know that it belonged to one Mazumder family of that area.
The temple is situated inside an open space on the right. In the left there is an old structure where an artisan is busy giving shape to Goddess Durga as Durga Puja is knocking at the door. I was shown the house of Shri Panchanan Majuder to whom I expressed my desire to have a glimpse of Goddess Dasabhuja. He asked me to wait and brought the keys of the temple from his house and asked me to accompany him. Then the temple is opened and I entered inside the temple sanctum. I found the idol of Goddess Dasabhuja being placed inside a wooden throne on the right. In the front there are the idols of Radha Krishna. As I look towards the ceiling, it appears to be very old.
When I asked about the history of the temple, Shri Majumder showed me an old diary in which was written the rich history of this Dasabhuja Mandir. He told that it was written by his late father. After reading the pages of that old diary I came to know that the temple was founded in 1007 Bangabda, which, according to the Gregorian calendar comes to 1600 A.D. It was the period of Akbar, the Great. He was the Mughal Emperor then. You will feel surprised that why am I mentioning the name of Akbar here. Yes, it has a connection. I think everybody must be familiar with the name of Raja Man Singh, the general of Akbar. During Akbar’s reign, Man Singh came to a place called Shyambati, which is the present day Mankundu. He set up a camp in the eastern side of Mankundu village. It was terribly hot that day and everybody in the camp were tired. The soldiers in order to take relief came to the bank of River Bhagirathi and the horses together with the persons looking after them went inside the field. Later in that day the weather conditions changed and came rain followed by thunderstorm which brought temporary relief after scorching heat; but it created a problem – the horses went astray and it was rather difficult to bring them back. All the horses except that of Raja Mansingh returned to the camp. He could not blame the persons considering the natural calamity but was very much disheartened. He announced that he will award the person who will bring back the horse.
A strange incident occured the following day. A beautiful looking youth brought the horse back to the camp and it drew the attention of Raja Man Singh, who requested the youth to take up service under the Nawabs. This youth is the founder of Dasabhuja Temple. He was later made the Jaigirdar of Shyambati, Krishnabati, Damodarbati, etc mouzas and given the title of Majumder. This youth was known by the name of Ram Ram Ghosh who set up the Dasabhuja Temple in 1600 A.D.
But apart from this history there is a saying that the idol of Goddess Dasabhuja is much older. As per the diary once a group of dacoits came to the house of a Brahmin and had their meal and was so much impressed that they wanted to give a part of their theft to them which included the idol of Goddess Dasabhuja. After getting the idol, the Brahmin family started worshipping it with great devotion; but here also a strange thing happened. The goddess in a dream directed the Brahmin family to hand over the idol to Ram Ram Majumder. Likewise Mazumder also had the same dream and as per the dream the idol of Goddess Dasabhuja is being worshipped in the temple of the Majumders.
I was told by Shri Panchanan Majumder that the Durga Puja is similarly pretty old and is being worshipped here with great pomp and splendour.
In order to visit the temple take any morning Howrah-Bandel local and get down at Mankundu station. Take any toto after crossing Chandannagar gate you will reach Dasabhujatala. Then ask anyone about this temple and you have to walk for about five minutes to reach the temple. But it is not sure whether you will find the temple open but you can see the temple from outside.
I am really very much indebted to Shri Panchanan Majumder for providing me the valuable information about this historic temple.
Date of posting: 7th September, 2019.