Kolkata to Joypur Forest, Bankura through North 24 Parganas & Hooghly
Travelling fast till Breakfast
Our road trail began as usual from my hometown Kolkata on 21st October 2015 with sunrise. We were trying to travel as fast as we can before the hustle of the city unfurls. As our intentions were to tour some fine locations in Bankura district of West Bengal. Thus we took the EM bypass till Dumdum and then the Belghoria expressway to cross Ganges by Bally Bridge. So we continued driving in the Durgapur expressway section of NH 19 .
From Singur we started on the State Highway2 through Baidyabati Tarakeshwar Champadanga Road. We crossed the railway line near Kamarkundu at around 8:11 am and continued for about 43 kms. After crossing Tarakeshwar near Bhimpur bus stand we stopped for the morning tea at a roadside shanty. Breakfast on car with the snacks we usually carry on road trips.
Breakfast but no Lunch
We crossed the Damodar river to reach Pursura. Crossed the Akambari Khal at Saidpur and Mundeswari River and Darakeshwar river at Arambagh. I left SH 2 for SH 7 along the Arambagh Kamarpukur Road till Jairambati. We traversed along the Jairambati Baital Bakadaha Road leaving the SH2. I usually prefer unknown roads through rural areas over highways. I can come more close to nature and people that way I believe.
We stopped at a place near Baguapara over a scenic beauty with red soil , hills under skyline and some waterbodies. What I realized later they are illegal coalmining sites filled up with rainwater. Our stoppage raised suspicions of local folks whether we are enquiring government servants or not. We started our journey through the now changed landscape and after a small level crossing reached Banalata resort near Jaipur Jungle our first days night stopover in the Bankura district.
In the hurry we missed an abandoned stone atchala temple on way to Jaipur.
Joypur Forest, Bankura
After quick freshening at the washroom and 15 mins rest at our AC room we had a late lunch and decided to go to the Jaipur jungle with a local guide we somehow arranged. We braved the sun to move into the jungle. There was a leftover British runaway of the 2nd World war time and also irrigation canal framework through it. I searched for sometime along with my guide to find few dilapidated remains of the British air force men’s shelters. it was known as Bishnupur airstrip.
Bishnupur and surroundings had a lot of airfields during the 2nd world war time most of which we missed. Piaradoba airfield hosted the United States Army Air Force 462d Bombardment Group prior to its deployment to the Mariana Islands. Piardoba Airfield officially closed on 26 September 1945.
We hurriedly left the jungle to visit some spots in the nearby temple town of Bishnupur. Locations I have already marked in my google maps. I had also in mind to search for the craftsman villages for Bishnupur gharana of Bankura. Thus I had to gossip with the local folks.
Bishnupur a Temple Town in Bankura at dusk
First to visit was Radha Binod Temple at Baburdanga, Bishnupur, Bankura. It is a brick atchalla temple from 1629 AD appearing to be a charchalla one with rich terracotta inscriptions.
Next we visited the Madan Mohan Temple. We cajoled the shop owners at temple ground to learn of Panchmura the home to the Bishnupur gharana potteries.
Kalindi bandh or dam is the oldest of the dams built in Bishnupur. Others being Krishna Bandh, Jamuna Bandh and Lal Bandh.
Our real search began for one Murli Mohan Temple dedicated to Bishnu at Kalindi bandh. I tried to use the google maps but had to enquire locals. It was a south facing laterite ekratna temple built by Rani Siromoni Devi w/o King Birsingha II in 1665 AD. We had an ASI board but the approaching road was too narrow. We had to leave our car and go walking across peoples homes. Also observed another not so well known but pretty old temple.
We returned to Banalata resort and ordered our dinner to be served in the campus just outside our room stay. Facilities were so and so. But at least we had an a.c. to avoid the seamering heat. Though we saw some mudcottages but our room had been prebooked. Then we took a short nightstrall and went to sleep early as we plan to leave early the day after.
Bishnupur revisited, the Heritage of Bankura
Stone Chariot and Large , Small Gateways
At dawn we travelled to Bishnupur as we have to cover all locations and move to our next halt at Khatra by nightfall. We entered Bishnupur by taking left from Krishnabandh and avoiding the Bishnupur Bypass. Now we started the feast to our eyes with the Stone Charriot. It is a 17th century AD structure on low laterite plinth with 3 wheels on each side. It’s lower storey represents the arched pavilion of Rashmancha and the upper one resembles Ekratna temple.
Next at Rajdarbar, Dalmadalpara we saw the Pathar Darwaza, a Small Stone Gateway. We had a tough time to navigate our car through the Gar darja or Large Gateway. The gateway was northern entrance to the historical Bishnupur fort now leading to a open ground. It was built by the Malla king in 2nd half of 17th century. It has double storied gallaries flanking the central passage for troupes and holes for archers and gunman.
Lalji, Radha Shyam & Shyam Rai temples
We saw the Radha Shyam temple built by Malla King Chaitanya Singha in 1758. Though another laterite ekaranta temple its different in having a boundary wall with motifs . Also it is a living temple with graffiti from all other Bishnupur temples on its walls.
We avoided the Ma Mrinmoyee temple as it wasn’t an ASI site and the temple seemed new. Though we heard the idol was old, you cant photograph that and had lots of devotees in front.
A local guide caught us by surprise. As he showed us the mound from where cannon fires were made to indicate the start of puja. We also saw the erstwhile kings houses in ruins.
We visited the Lalji Temple built by King BirSingha II in 1658 AD for Radha & Krishna. The sight of remnants of a conjoined temple still not in the Archeological Survey of India patronage but bearing the graffiti of karate centers was disheartening. Such poor plight of conserving our culture. Another unnamed temple and a wall portion in ruins.
We went to the Shyamrai Temple a well guarded one by car. Next we visited a Jor Bangla temple just like ones you find in many places in West Bengal. Heard the melodious tune of “ektara” in front of the temple complex.
Dalmadal Cannon, Kesta Rai, Nanda Lal, Radha madhab Temples
Amongst so many temples we had the glimpse of the Dalmadal Cannon. Not only it proves the defensive power of Malla kingdom. The cannon also shows the uses of iron , developed mechanical skill and the presence of great artisans and fighters of that time.
Our next trip in the dalmadal para was to Jor Bangla or Kesta Rai Temple. It was erected by Malla King Raghu Nath Singha of Bankura in 1655 AD . The temple has terracotta panels narrating scenes from epics, krishnalila, hunting scenes and contemporary social life.
Nanda Lal temple was next on our plate.
Radha Madhab temple is a south facing makrana stone temple built by queen Churamoni Devi wife of Maharaja Krishna Singh
Kala Chand, Radha Govinda, Jor Mandir Temples and Rashmancha
We also saw the Kala Chand temple at a corner of the complex.
We strolled to the Radha Govinda temple a laterite ekaratna temple square on plan thereafter. It was having a curved roof and a shikhara built in 1729 AD during the rule of Krishna Singha. It has bas relief carvings originally approached with fine stuck work and a small brick chariot on the southern side.
Last we saw the Jor Mandir group of 3 temples built by Malla King Gopal Singha in 1726 AD. The central one has elaborative stucco work depicting scenes from Ramayana & Krishnalila.
We ended our Bishnupur tour by visiting the infamous Rash Mancha.
To Khatra from Bishnupur : Bankura on roads
Khatra to Panchmura
We returned to Resort and upon having lunch checked out from our stay at around 12:40 pm to refuell our car at Mayara pukur. Driving along the Bishnupur Nakaijuri Taldangra road through the Panchet forest division we crossed Mukutmanipur BB canal near Manikmara. We reached Asnasol four road crossing and were confused whether to continue straight or take the left lane. Left one was prompted by goggle maps. Right one we avoided as it had a marking Asha Forest Rest House. But driving left for 5 -6 kms we found the road narrowing and being engulfed by forest shrubs.
Being disheartened we turned back to Asnasol. So our driver took us straight to reach Shibdanga crossing. Thereafter we turned left to reach Taldangra. We again took left along Ongra Panchmura Chouretha Road to reach Fulmati Panchayeet near Chakshyampur & then Radha Nagar. The asphalt road has long ended and palm tree juice cultivation was rampant just like 30 yrs ago rural Bengal. At a place the road disappeared to a big puddle with ducklings. We carefully travelled further to reach Panchmura market and enquired locals about the potters. On reaching we met 5 potter families with excellent Bishnupur potteries , a pride of Bankura.
Panchmura to Sinyajora
We drove back to reach Taldangra at 3 :39 pm. Thereafter we turned left to continue on Bankura Ratanpur Shibdanga Taldangra Simlipal Road . We were bewildered to cross Jaypanda rivulet a tributary of Shilabati river at Harakona. I travelled further to cross the Shilabati river itself at Simlapal.
From Simlapal we took the Parsola Simlapal Road and then Khatra Simlapal Road. After crossing Gotkanali we met some tribal men women at Sinyajora offering to dance for us on road. I readily agreed to witness a wonderfull performance of folk culture. We missed the nearby Ronkini Mata Temple, a demigoddess of tribal origin as we had to reach Khatri by nightfall.
Sinyajora to Mukutmanipur and Khatra
We reached Dahala in half an hour with a change in landscape with hills and hillocks. We proceeded through the serenity of Madhabpur and Dhargram. Upon reaching Khatra we decided to move to Mukutmanipur. We reached at dusk to find the dam side road closed due to some recent accidents. I searched frantically for a public toilet not to find any. We returned to Khatra at evening to find to our horror the miserable condition of our booked stay. Ultimately however we found a lodge with AC room to our rescue.
Jhilimilli, Sutan & Talberiya : Mesmerizing Bankura
Early in the morning next day we started for Sutan and Jhilimili. Taking the Khatra Ranibandh road over undulating plains and hillocks we reached Khutakata at around 7:30 am. Through Bhurkura we arrived at Ranibandh. Ignoring the left side road to Barikul we took the right side Ranibadh Jhilimili road to move to Raygar. At Gunpara we had a signboard declaring Mukutmonipur 30km , Ajodhya hill 109 km and a new place Talberia 21km.
I discovered in Google maps a small dam at Talberia and decided to go there after Jhilimili. We reached Bansdiha through Khejura to find a 4km left side road to Talberia while Jhilimili was another 5km straightaway. The road had great undulations moving up and down over hillocks. We arrived at Jhilimili. We didn’t drive to Banshpahari (4km), Dungri Falls or Dhangikusum falls at Amlasol or Kuilapal (2.9Km) leaving them for another trip to explore because of time constraints.
Deciding for Talberia we returned to Bansdiha . Through Rautara we tried to navigate by enquiring the locals as couldn’t trace properly with Google maps. Such a scenic beauty and we were engulfed by the serenity of the Talberiya dam. A big fish we couldn’t see made a loud humming sound alerting our arrival at the reservoir. We drove back to Jhilimili and then Gunpura and took a side jungle road through Khata-am to Sutan.
Mukutmanipur & Susunia Hills : More of Bankura
Mukutmanipur a retry
We hurried back to our hotel at Khatra to checkout after lunch. We went to Mukutmanipur and found the roads open. So after visiting the sluiz gate side and the water treatment area we crossed the Kansabati Dam as we drove along the Mukutmanipur road. After crossing Gorabari through the Ambikanagar road we soon reached the bridge over Kumari river. Taking left turn to the Kamarkuli Pareshnath road we reached Kamarkuli. And parked our car on a hillock under the dam. We climbed to the Pareshnath temple but in the rush missed the Musafirana view point and the Ambika Devi temple. We also missed the Banpukuria Nilgiri Deer Park as we had no time for the ferry unlike my earlier visit to Mukutmanipur in college days. I also missed the historical sites at Ambika Nagar, Bankura. From the pareshnath temple I took snaps of the dam.
Susunia just a glimpse
Next we will be going to Susunia Pahar the last leg of our fantastic tour routine. We crossed the Shilabati river again near Gobindapur. And we sped along the Khatra Bankura road passing beside the Sunuk Pahari and Dulalpur. Crossing the Dwarakeshwar river at Sakarhati we drove to Dumdumi, Kumarkuli to arrive at Chhatna. Then we took the Chhatna Susunia road bypassing Bankura. After passing Gurputa, Hausibad, Parulia and Bishkodar we saw the small yet majestic Susunia hills standing at its splendour.
We didn’t stay at Susunia. Thus we had no time to visit Susunia Dhara & Chhota Dhara waterfalls. Also the historical inscriptions of King Chandravarman went unseen. We didn’t travel by the other road through Amarkanan , Koro Pahar and Gangdua dam or Shali River reservoir . All of these glamorous beauties be left aside for another tour visit sometime.
Rushing Back Home
Moving along the Susunia road upon reaching the NH 8 at Kusthalia we didn’t continue straight on Mejia Kusthalia Road. But we turned left on Saltora Kusthalia Deuli Mejia Road strech of NH8 to reach Deuli. After Deuli at Gangajalghati while traversing the Gangajalghati Forest we took left. Then through hanspahari keeping Mejia thermal power plant to right we proceeded to Durlavpur along State highway14. Though we had planned to move to Mejia and then to Ranigunj after crossing the Damodar river we couldn’t. The road was being reconstructed. So we moved straight to Barjora and then crossed Damodar over Durgapur barrage. Thus we successfully got on the Durgapur expressway at dusk and sped to Kolkata by night. We got to bed enjoying the comfort and cosines of sweet home. And we pledged to cover the uncovered locations at some later time of our convenience.
What we missed
- Jairambati Kamarpukur
- Atchala stone temple on way to Jaipur
- Piaradoba airfield
- Ronkini Mate temple at Sinyajora
- Dungri or Dhangikusum falls at Amlasol
- Musafirana view point at Mukutmanipur
- Banpukuria Nilgiri Deer Park
- Historical ruins at Ambikanagar in Mukutmanipur
- Historical inscriptions of King Chandravarman on Susunia Hills
- Chhoto dhara falls
- Susunia dhara falls
- Amarkanan & Koro Pahar
- Gangdua Dam
- Gangajalghati Forest
Bankura Tour : Joypur Forest, Bishnupur Temples, Jhilimili, Sutan, Talberiya Dam, Mukutmanipur Dam and Susunia Hills