Hooghly district of West Bengal is famous for Rathayatra – Mahesh in Serampore, Guptipara and Dasghara to name a few. Last year I was pretty lucky to visit Dasghara in the afternoon. It was a very hot and humid day. I took a train from Howrah and reached Tarakeswar at about quarter to two in the afternoon. Then I went to the bus stand and boarded a bus going to Dasghara. I sat by the window and when the bus started, I found after some time the landscape changed from urban to rural. Yes, we are leaving the temple town of Tarakeswar. The bus was more or less packed; but nobody was standing. After some thirty minutes I got down at Bazaar para and started walking towards my destination.
The chariot along with the fair at Dasghara, Hooghly.
On my way I found the famous rath or chariot of Dasghara along with the fair. There are different stalls selling food items, toys, daily commodities, etc.
I simply forgot the distance and the hot sun overhead as Biswas Mansion along with Gopisagar Lake welcomed me at a distance. While passing by the side of the lake I noticed the water is crystal clear. There are a number of temples including the famous pancharatna temple dedicated Gopinathji built by Sadananda Biswas in 1729 along with white-coloured octagonal rasmancha and a charchala dolmancha.
Entering Biswas mansion I was lucky to find Shri Amit Biswas from whom I came to know that a registered trust was formed way back in 1874 by five babus and, as per the deed, two hundred rupees was earmarked for rathyatra festival. In the same year a new chariot was built and Radha Gopinath Jiu was placed inside the rath. But a sad event occured on the day of Rathayatra. Later, in a dream Gopinath Jiu 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 the custom is still being followed. I was told that in the evening the idols of Radha Gobinda were taken out of the temple and placed in a palanquin.
Shri Biswas also told me that the first chariot which was made got damaged in 1950 and a new one with a wooden frame was built. That was a tero chura rath. About a decade ago another chariot – the present one was built but the number of churas was reduced to nine.
In the meantime a sudden downpour gave me and others a temporary relief. I came to know that apart from Rathyatra, the other festivals are Durga Puja, Janmastami, Rashyatra, Dolyatra to name a few.
Came the evening and I have been eagerly waiting to witness the grand event. The idols of Radha Gobindaji are taken out from the temple and placed inside a beautifully decorated palanquin which will take them to the place where the chariot stands. It was a scene to watch. The entire locality was filled with festive mood as people irrespective of age followed the palanquin.
An interesting feature of rathyatra here is associated with Ultarath or the return journey. There is a deviation here. It does not take place on the eight day after rathyatra; but a day later.
Take any Howrah-Tarakeswar local train and get down at Tarakeswar. Come to the bus stand and board any bus going to Dasghara and get down at Bazaarpara stoppage.
Alternately, take any train of Howrah-Barddhaman chord line and get down at Dhaniakhali Halt station. From there take a bus to reach Dasghara.
1. Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee
2. Hooghly District Gazetteer (October 1972) by Amiya Kumar Banerjee
I am grateful to Shri Amit Biswas and Shri Arup De.
Date of Posting: 22nd April, 2020.