Situated in Khidirpur, in Ward No 79 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) Bhukailash Rajbari is a prominent place where one will witness two big aatchala Shiva temples – Raktakamaleswar and Krishnachandreswar standing there from 1780 onwards and which have archaeological, architectural and historical significance. The temples along with the thakurbari including gateway of Bhukailash Rajbari is a Grade-I Heritage of the KMC.
Joynarayan Ghosal was called the founder of the Bhukailash Raj family. He was born in 1752. He was well-versed in Sanskrit, Bengali, Arabic, Persian and English. Joynarayan received the title of ‘Maharaja Bahadur’ from Hastings. Following the footsteps of his anscestors, he carried on trade mainly in salt, gold and metals which made him rich.
With that in Khidirpur near his ancestral house, he puchased 108 bighas of low land in Kalibagan and built a rajbari. He also made a big pond dug near the rajbari compound known as Shivganga.
There are two big aatchala Shiva temples (currently restored) facing each other across the open space bear testimony to his great work. Each temple has a triple-arched entrance and inside houses a Shiva lingam. On the east of the pond is the west-facing Raktakamaleshwar Shiva lingam, about 1.8 metres in height in the name of Joynarayan’s mother and on the west of Shivaganga is present the east-facing Krishnachandreswar in the name of his father Krishna Chandra Ghosal. From the foundation plaque of Raktakamaleshwar Temple, it was learnt that the temple was built in 1702 Sakabda (1780 A.D). The other one is devoid of any such stone and it can be assumed that it was possibly built during the same time.
One thing to mention here Raktakamaleshwar temple has beautiful stucco works and though both the Shiva lingams are more or less of the same height; but that of Raktakamaleshwar Shiva lingam is slightly higher.
The temple compound also has a black stone statue of a nandi or bull at the centre. The temple compound is well maintained. Daily worship is performed here. When I visited this temple about four years ago on a cold winter morning, I found that the morning puja has already been performed by the priest. There were not many people at that time possibly considering the cold weather and that has enabled me to click the photographs. Across the pond is a memorial to Joynarayan Ghosal. There is “a domed pavilion with pairs of Tuscan columns at each of the four corners “. There one will witness a statue of Raja Joynarayan Ghosal.
Raja Joynarayan Ghosal played a great role for the advancement of education and culture. His only son Kalishankar contributed twenty thousand rupees for the establishment of Hindu College.
The Rajbari complex also houses a number of temples – the most prominent among them is Shri Shri Patit Pabon Durga Mandir which houses the family deity of the Ghosal family. Inside the temple there is a Durga idol in mahisashurmardini posture made of asthadhatu (an alloy of eight metals). Unfortunately I do not have any photo of the deity.
A long copper plaque inside the temple narrates the life story of Raja Joynarayan Ghosal and the same is written in English and Persian languages. The top portion of the plaque is written in English while the lower portion in Persian. It’s a long story and pretty difficult to read. I am providing here a photograph of the same.
The entrance leads to a large courtyard. Apart from the temples, there is a huge dance hall on the left, the roof of which has already collapsed long ago. Another thing which I noticed is two small canons. I do not know why the canons are here; but looking at them I could assume that they are more than two hundred years old. But they bear testimony to a glorious past.
To visit Bhukailash Rajbari take any bus going to Khidirpur. The nearest metro station is Jatin Das Park. Cross the road and take the auto going to Khidirpur. The Bhukailash Temple is approachable from the opposite of Khidirpur Tram Depot. On the left you will notice a gateway to Bhukailash Temple.
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2. Kolkatar Mandir-Maszid Sthapotya-Alankaran-Rupantar by Tarapada Santra
3. Calcutta Built Heritage Today (An INTACH Guide)
Date of Posting: 4th April, 2020.