Joynagar, a town and muncipality of South 24 Parganas district, situated just 31 miles south of Kolkata, has a number of temples but which made Joynagar famous is for the confectionary of Joynagarer Moa.
The town is situated on the western side of Adi Ganga. It can be reached both by rail and road. But the best option is rail route. Take any Namkhana/Lakshmikantapur bound train from Sealdah and get down at Joynagar-Majilpur station. Toto or auto is the best option to explore the town.
The Joynagar-Majilpur muncipality has just completed its 150th anniversary this year (2019). Three fairs are held every year – fair during Dolyatra, lasting for ten days; Goshtastami in the month of November and Goshtajatra in the middle of April, both for one day. The first reference of the village of Joynagar can be found in poet Krishnaram Das’s Roymangal way back in 1686 A.D. Reference can also be drawn from the map of Renell in 1779.
The name Joynagar is derived from the name of the local goddess Joychandi. The temple can still be found in the town. When I enquired about the age of the temple, I have been told that it is very old; though I fail to get the exact year. During my recent visit there I noticed a number of large ponds with crystal clear water. One such pond is Mitra Ganga by the side of which one can witness the Dwadosh Shiv Mandir founded by the Mitras. The twelve east-facing aatchala Shiva temples have undergone renovation. The shiva temples were founded by Madhusudan Mitra, Mukundaram Mitra, Kamdev Mitra, Suresh Chandra Mitra, Kalidas Mitra, Dharanidhar Mitra, Brindaban Mitra, Hari Datta and Ramkanai Bose. Floral motifs can be seen in these temples.
There are two Dolmanchas on two sides of Mitra Ganga. The one on the northern side dedicated to Gopinath Jiu was founded by Madhusudan Mitra and the one on the south was founded by Ramkanai Basu in 1205 Bangabda, which according to Gregorian calender dates back to 1798. The temples are currently looked after by Mitra Ganga Trust Committee.
Another old temple of Joynagar is Radha-Ballav Jiu Temple. It was said that this was one of the oldest among the temples of Joynagar; though the present chadni was built by Krishnamohan Mitra in 1853. Around 1600 A.D Maharaj Pratapaditya of Jessore built a small temple where two wooden idols of Radha and Krishna, brought from Khari were set up. Later when the condition of the ancient temple detoriarated, this new temple was built.
Outside the temple complex in the adjoining area there is a beautiful charchala dolmancha built by Zamindar Krishnamohan Mitra, and, later renovated by Kshetranath Mitra. The architecture is unique in the sense that there is a temple in the ground floor, which is in a raised platform with the dolmancha on the top. Two white elephants adorns the entrance. I have been told that pancham dol (fifth day after Dolyatra) is celebrated here with much pomp and splendour. A number of pilgrims visit this temple during the Dol festival in the Bengali month of Phalgun (March). According to Bengal District Gazetteer by L.S.S. O’Malley, “Close to the temple is a kadamba tree which during the festival is said to yield one flower in honour of the God Krishna, whose favourite flower it is; this is looked upon as a supernatural phenomenon, for the rainy months of July and August are the season in which the plant flowers.”
A further away from this temple is the temple of Radha-Shyamsundar Jiu. The temple is of aatchala type with triple entrance and placed on a raised platform. Outside the temple there is a beautiful dolmancha. This mancha, like that of Radha-Ballav Jiu is a two storied structure and really beautiful to look at. The architecture and the frontal structure is spectacular.
While returning to the station I noticed another dolmancha and an aatchala Shiv mandir placed side by side; but I did’nt notice any plaque. Both the structures have been given a fresh coat of white colour. On my way to Jaichandi mandir, I noticed not only these two temples; but another temple, not far away from the present temple complex, which drew my attention.
The condition of this temple is not good. I have been told that it is a Shiva Temple. The architecture of this temple is different from the others. A close look at the temple will reveal a trishul at the top. I assume that the temple is hexagonal in shape.
There are a number of temples in Joynagar which, due to shortage of time, could not be covered by me on the day of my trip to Joynagar. One thing which attracted my attention in Joynagar is the five dolmanchas; which reminds me that Dolyatra is the principal festival here.
- Dakshin 24 Pargana Jelar Purakirti by Sagar Chattopadhyay.
2. Adi Gangar Tire by Prasit Kumar Roychowdhury.
3. Bengal District Gazetteers 24 Parganas by L.S.S.O’Malley.
Date of Posting: 28th December, 2019.