The twin villages of Hadal Narayanpur located in Patrasayer block of Bishnupur subdivision of Bankura district has a number of terracotta temples and a seventeen pinnacled octagonal rasmancha.
To give you an idea of what a rasmancha is, in the simplest term it is temple-like structure used during the Rashyatra on a full moon day held in the Bengali month of Kartick when the idols of Radha-Krishna are taken out from the main temple and placed here so that people at large can witness the deities. Compared to dolmancha, where the idols of Radha-Krishna are kept for a single day, here in rasmancha, the deities are placed for three days mainly after the evening. The manchas are situated within the temple compound. The walls of these structures may either have terracotta decoration or stucco works or simply floral motifs.
The rasmancha of Baro-taraf of Mondal family of Hadal Narayanpur is unique in many respects. First of all it is one of the largest of its kind – double storied with a height of about 40 feet. Secondly, all the sides are decorated with rich terracotta works. Thirdly, it seems to me that from a distance, this tall structure looks like a temple. Fourthly, each corner of the rasmancha has sculptures depicting Gaja Lakshmi; Ram Sita; Krishna Radhika; Anantasayan Bishnu; Gostho-Lila; Mahisasuramardini Durga; Marriage of Shiva; Shiva Nandi-Bhringi. In fact this beautiful rasmancha will greet you once you enter the baro taraf.
Placed on a higher pedastal, this saptadasa-ratna (seventeen pinnacled) rasmancha with “rekha turrets” was built in the year 1854. David McCutchion in his book “Brick Temples of Bengal” mentioned that Shibnarayan Mandal commissioned a person by the name of Narayan Sutradhar of Balsi to built a number of buildings including this spectacular rasmancha which, during those days, cost fourteen thousand rupees.
More or less the sculptures on the walls of the rasmancha are intact but care should be taken to protect it. It is an unique heritage structure. There was an old custom that during the days of Rashyatra all the shalagramshilas of the village were kept here for three days. It will be a matter of great luck for me if I can witness the same during the Rash festival.
How to go there:
- One can board the Bankura Damodar Railway (BDR) (South Eastern railway) from Masagram station in Howrah-Barddhaman chord line and get down at Dhagaria. From there one take a toto to reach Hadal Narayanpur. But getting a toto there is a matter of luck. In case you do not get a toto, you have to walk about 5 kilometres (10 kilometres both ways) to reach the village and from the village to way back to the station, provided you do not get toto on your return journey from Hadal Narayanpur to Dhagaria station.
- Take the morning Rupasi-Bangla from Satragachi station and get down at Bishnupur at 9:30 am. Take a car from there and it will take roughly 1hour 30 minutes to reach Hadal Narayanpur.
- Take any morning local train from Howrah and reach Barddhaman. You can either hire a car from there or you may take any bus going to Sonamukhi and get down at Dhagaria. From there hire a toto to reach Hadal Narayanpur.
- If you have your own car or if you hire a car from Kolkata, take the route to Bardddhaman via Palsit Toll plaza and take Ahilyabai Holkar Road, and cross the Damodar River and go straight until you will find a level-crossing at Dhagaria station on your right. Cross it and in roughly ten minutes you will reach Hadal Narayanpur.
It can be a single-day trip provided if it well-planned and if you go by car. But it will be rather hectic. The best time to visit is from November to mid-March. There is no boarding facility at Hadal Narayanpur. Take lunch either at Barddhaman or you may have to carry it from home as you will hardly find any restaurants or eateries there. Don’t forget to carry water with you.
- Bankura Jelar Purakirti by Amiya Kumar Bandopadhyay.
- Brick Temples of Bengal by David McCutchion
My sincere thanks to Sri Amitabha Gupta.
Date of Posting: 27th June, 2021.