Bandel, a junction station, in Howrah-Barddhaman main line is roughly 38 kilometres from Howrah. On one sunny Sunday morning in March this year I boarded the Bandel local from Howrah and reached there. From Bandel I took an auto and headed for Sahaganj which is around 4 kilometres from there via Chinsurah-Bansberia Road. My destination is the Shiva Temples of Sahaganj founded by the Nandi family.
The nearest destination is Sahaganj sub post office. Leaving the auto I walked a few steps and on my right there is a big open space where I found a collection of eight Shiva temples two of traditional aatchala type facing the road on one side and six octagonal temples on the other side. In this connection I would like to inform that there is also an octagonal rasmancha just in the middle of the Shiva temples. In another way it can be said that out of the nine structures there the ramancha is in the middle – the fifth one. Again if we see the temples in another way, to the left of the rasmancha – there are two octagonal Shiva temples and to the right there are four.
It reminds me of the similar type of Shiv Mandir I noticed at G. T. Road in Chandannagar.
All the octagonal temples are south facing and smaller in size and has only entrance in the front. There may be a passage through which one can go from one temple to another in the western (two temples) and on the eastern (four temples) sides of the rasmancha.
There are a number of plaques on the temple wall – but very difficult to decipher what is written. It states that the temples were founded on 4th Jaistha, 1271 Bangabda which when converted to Gregorian calendar comes to 19th May, 1864.
Each Shiva temple has got a name. I have tried to read only four. They are Shree Shree Kamaleshwar; Shree Shree Avayeshwar; Shree Shree Maheshwar and Shree Shree Jamuneshwar. Possibly the rasmancha is built during the same time but the plaque which I noticed at the bottom of the structure is newly built. It states that Late Bhagabati Nandi has taken the main initiative of the restoration work of the temples in 1379 as per the Bengali calendar (1972).
The rasmancha is also unique in the sense that it deviates from the traditional octagonal structure. It appears that the top of the mancha is like an open umbrella. The rasmancha along with the other temples are on a raised platform. I have been told that daily worship is performed here. There is also an old aatchala Shiva temple founded in 1725 A.D though presently it is abandoned. There are two other temples – one pancharatna and the other nabaratna. Owing to paucity of time I could not cover the same.
To visit the temples:
The best way to visit the temple is to board Howrah-Bandel local and get down at Bandel station. From there board auto going to Sahaganj sub post office. Get down at the post office stoppage and walk a few steps and you will find the temple complex on your right.
Alternately, those who are coming from Sealdah, they can get down at Naihati station. From there board Naihati-Bandel bound train and come to Bandel station crossing the Hooghly river. From there take an auto going to Sahaganj sub post office.
Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee.
Date of posting: 23rd May, 2021.