The Temples

Bishnupur, located in south western West Bengal in the district of Bankura, is renowned for its terracotta temples. Bishnupur was once the capital of the regional Mallabhum kingdom. The temples are adorned with elaborate carvings giving an insight into the terracotta art of Bengal. Three main architectural styles of temples can be found in Bishnupur, namely the deul, chala and ratna styles. Deul style is characterized by a single tower whereas ratna style temples usually have more than one towers.

Shyama Raya

The Shyama Raya temple is of the pancha-ratna type with five spires. Built entirely of brick it is the most imposing of the two dozen or so temples to be found in Bishnupur. The temple was built in 1643 AD by King Raghunatha Singha and is renowned for the decorative and narrative frieze scenes and motifs. The scenes depict socio-religious themes and political and economic life of the people. Scenes originate from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Puranic stories.

Rasamandala episode seen on the right image

Jor Bangla

The Jor Bangla, also known as Keshta Raya temple, was built in 1655 by King Raghunath Singha. The two hut-shaped structures are joined together and surmounted by a charchala shikara on the top. This is another temple with exquisite terracotta ornamentation.

Rasa Mancha

The Rasa Mancha temple has a unique pyramidal roof which is not to be found elsewhere in India. The temple was built by Bir Hambir in the early 17th century. Images from nearby temples were brought here for their display to the public during the Rasa Festival.

Jor Mandir Temples

Two large and one small temple together are known as the Jor Mandir built by Malla King Gopala Singha in 1726 AD. The temples are of the eka-ratna variety having one tower (sikhara) each. The temples are square on plan and are constructed on a raised platform. Scenes from Ramayana and Krishna-lila are depicted on the stucco work found on the laterite wall.

Nandalal Temple

This temple has less ornamentation than many of its counterparts and was originally plastered with lime.

How To Reach Bishnupur

Kolkata, being the nearest large city, would be the ideal base to reach Bishnupur. Three daily trains originating at Howrah, Shalimar or Santragachi stations halt at Bishnupur, covering a distance of 201 kms. The Rupasibangla Express is the most convenient train for a day trip. Bishnupur can also be reached by road (a bus service is available from Kolkata), a distance of some 150 kms.

Direct Superfast Train Service Between Kolkata (note stations) and Bishnupur¹
Train Name Frequency Kolkata DEPBishnupur ARRBishnupur DEPKolkata ARR
Rupasibangla Exp. (dep Santragachi Jn) Daily 06:2509:3717:28 21:15 (Howrah)
Adra Rajya Rani (dep Shalimar) Mo,Fr,Sa 06:2509:37 14:05 18:00
Aranyak Exp. (dep Shalimar) DailyExSu 07:4511:09 15:05 19:00
Howrah Purulia Exp. Daily 16:5020:00 07:28 11:20
Kaviguru Exp. Su 21:2500:37 04:08 08:05 (Santragachi)

¹ Timetables valid as at 10/5/16 and are subject to change. Please consult the Indian Railways website for current schedules.

Where To Stay

While the most important temples can be seen within a day's trip, a longer stay certainly would give the visitor a chance to visit local centers of toymaking and weaving in addition to seeing the temples. The state government maintains a tourist lodge and a range of private lodgings are available too.

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