In the lands of Terracotta

Most of us like traveling. In spite of the problems that we may encounter, we like going places. Memories of the cosy warmth, the comfort, the laziness of our homes, vanishes the moment we pick our bags and move out to explore the world around us. The hustle bustle of the railway station, the crowded trains vanishes from our mind once the smell of morning freshness, the sight of passing villages and trees, the feel of the cold winds caressing our cheeks is felt. The excitement is all out there. No matter whatever difficulties come our ways the peregrinator’s delight is an wonderful experience. Our recent weekend visit to a small village in Bankura, West Bangal was such a memorable experience.

We heard the name SAMUDRA BANDH (embankment creating a large lake) when we went to Bankura and Bishnupur about four years ago. The name caught our imagination, and we thought some day we will go to this place. I came across the name of Joypur village while reading a blog post of Amitabha Gupta, and I was fascinated by the blog :Brick Temple Towns of Bankura – Part IV : Joypur & Gokulnagar. After making inquiry and bookings at Banalata Lodge, we ventured out one morning and boarded the Aranyak Express from Shalimar Station. The overcast condition and a depression over Bay of Bengal had robbed Kolkata of whatever tiny winter we experience in December-January and the chilly bite of the gushing wind was missing. The train route from Shalimar to Bishnupur is presently via Kharagpur and takes three hours to complete. However a new route via Tarakeshwar and Arambagh is presently under construction and once completed will make travel in this route much faster.

To Reach Banalata from Bishnupur station, one has to hire a car. We preferred a  auto rickshaw instead. It took us about 40 minutes, and after the initial hiccups through busy narrow lanes of Bishnupur, the journey was quite enjoyable through the road cutting through the forest. The driver narrated real life tales of elephants who lived in the forests. We reached Banalata at 12 noon, within six hours of leaving our home.

Banalata is a nice homely warm farm house cum lodge for tourists. As soon as we entered its campus we felt relaxed. I had requested a room on the top floor and was granted the same. The room offered nice views of Joypur forest on one side and the open farm fields on the other. However the best attraction for my seven year old son was the garden swing.

Enjoying Garden Swing with Grandpa
Malhar enjoying Garden Swing with Dadu

I was happy shooting the flowers. The extended breakfast we had on the train delayed our sense of hunger consequently delaying our lunch. After a sumptuous lunch we strolled around in the farmlands with the emus, the turkeys, the cows and rabbits.

Morning rose at Banalata
Morning rose at Banalata
Farm Broccoli
Farm Broccoli
Nice place to stay
Nice place to stay

With the sun on our back, we discovered a wonderful winter afternoon in the Joypur village. First we went in search of SamudraBandh. The reservoir occupies an area of 25,000 square meters but is mostly dried up now. After a short recess we continued our walk into the Joypur village to visit two old temples with some interesting terracotta motifs.

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Stucco work depicting British Soldier on the walls of house of Dutta family

Joypur is an old village in Bankura. There are quite a few old temples on the way to the Dutta babu’s and Dey babu’s temples. But the first feel of the ancient art work is the Old House of the Dutta’s. A few steps later we entered the Navaratna Temple of the Dutta family. The temple had intricate terracotta designs on its walls.

Navaratna Temple of Dutta family
Navaratna Temple of Dutta family
Another intricate piece of art
Another intricate piece of art

The temple has three entrance with terracotta adorning top of all three.

Ten headed Ravana fighting Rama
Ten headed Ravana fighting Rama

The history of Chandi Temple of Dutta family was told by Mrs. Annapurna Dey. She had come to visit her ancestral home from in laws house. The Dutta’s were Subarna Banik of this ancient village. She showed us the terracotta sculpture on the temple walls Bhishma lying over Bed of arrows and other sculptures based on stories of Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata.

The Temple of Dutta Family
The Temple of Dutta Family

After visiting the temple of Ma Chandi of Dutta family we visited the Lord Damodar’s Temple of Dey Family.

Lord Damodar's Navaratna Temple of Dey Family, Joypur
Lord Damodar’s Navaratna Temple of Dey Family, Joypur

After a long walk from Banalata we were tired and took rested for a while at the temple premises.

Malhar and Didu listening to Dadu's song
Malhar and Didu listening to Dadu’s song

There were similarities and differences between the two temples, but the artwork of terracotta were excellent.

Mother and Child and Date of temple completion
Mother and Child and Date of temple completion
Terracotta over arched gateway
Terracotta over arched gateway

After this it was time to go back to our lodge. We tried to make a short cut back but ended up walking an even longer way back. By the time we reached back it was dark. The only remarkable incident in the evening was that I ate seven vegetable pakoras. It was a nice weekend visit in the land of the Terracottas.

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