Among various villages in Bankura District, the twin village of Hadal-Naryanpur is very renowned because of its historical background and terracotta temples. Although it is only 60 km from Bankura town, which is below two hours hours drive, the village is surprisingly not a popular tourist spot.
Hadal-Narayanpur can be also reached from Bishnupur (48 km) and Burdwan (54 km) almost in the same time interval. There is a railhead and a bus stop at Dhagaria which is 5km from the village.
The village is situated on the banks of Bodai river. Hadal and Naryanpur are situated side by side and belongs to the same mouja; hence referred as the joint name : Hadal-Naranpur. It is said that the village was first established by one “Murokata” Chakraborty, who literally cut down trees to start up the village.
Hadal-Naryanpur was highlighted in the history of Bengal, after the arrival of Muchiram Ghosh , a Sadgop caste gentleman who left his ancestral land Nilpur at Bardhaman during the end of 17th century to settle down at Hadal . Muchiram Ghosh found the village life more peaceful than the city life and decided to settle down permanently. During that period, Shubhankar Das the famous mathematician was employed as tarafdar of Parulia under the ruler of the area – Malla Rajah Gopal Singh. Muchiram Ghosh developed a close friendship with Shubhankar Das which ultimately resulted in the change of fortune of the family. The family received “Mandalpati” surname from Rajah Gopal Singh and since then their surname is Mandal.
My visit to the village of Hadal Naryanpur was on a hot summer day of April. I started around 05:30 a.m. from Bankura town in a hired car. There are numerous trains from Howrah to Bankura. I preferred Purulia express as it reaches in the night and allows me to make a head start early in the morning.
The road was scenic and I reached Sonamukhi town in an hour. Sonamukhi also has many lovely temples, but I decided to keep it for my next trip. I reached Hadal-Naryanpur by 07:00. The village looked prosperous and I made my first halt in the front of a temple.
Literally the structure did not look like a traditional temple. It was a modern flat roofed structure with the entrance displaying painting of Lord Shiva dancing with the body of Sati on his shoulder. The temple housed the unique idol of a goddess locally known as “Bramhani Devi”. Made of black “Kasti Pathar”, The idol has four hands with the top left hand hand holding a Trishul (Trident). Historians and archeologists consider this to be statue of Goddess Parvati. Even eminent archeologist Rakahaldas Bandopadhyay mentions this idol as that of Parvati in one of his article which came out in the Bengali Magazine Prabasi in the year 1939. There are also small female structures at the bottom of the idol. The Idol is engraved within a tall “Kasti Pathar” with a semicircular top. This statue is from era of Pal dynasty.
The people of Hadal-Naryanpur are very friendly. Soon I went into conversation with many of them. One elderly gentleman Mr. Malakar informed me that the height of the idol is 5’10” with a width of 2’11’’, which I found to be accurate after referring to book “Bankura Jelar PurakirtI” (Archeological Feats of Bankura Zila) published by West Bengal State Archeology. The idol is fixed securely to the ground and the wall. It is said that after the village was established, one Tambuli woman Rani Moira had a dream that this idol was stuck in the banks of Damodar river and was asking to be established. On the basis of this dream the idol was found sunk in the mud which was then established as Bramhani Devi. A similar looked idol can be seen in a temple at Sonamukhi too.
I took a walk around the village accompanied by a young enthusiastic lad Bikash, with whom I had developed a rapport. The Mandal Family is divided in three portions – Barotaraf, MejoTaraf and Chototaraf. Though the property of Chototaraf is located nearer, We first visited the area of BaroTaraf.
Near the entrance of the Palace like residence of Barotaraf, I stopped to look at the huge Rasmancha. I could locate sculptures depicting Goddess Durga and her family, Shiva’s Marriage, Gaja Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu In Anantashyana pose. The Rasmancha looked very much like a Seventeen ratna (Pinnacle) Terracotta temple.
We approached the residence of the Barotaraf of Mandal Family. The house is painted yellow with a cylindrical shaped entrance. The windows at this entrance were like full sized door with old style green shutters over them. Over each window there was semicircular arch featuring a face with beautiful backdrop. Every arch had a different face. Here European influence was evident. At the corner of this structure, much above from the ground I noticed a statue which resembled a Chinese Lion.
The caretaker of the palace informed that during Durga Puja this palace is full of pomp & show with all the present descendents of Mandal Family participating in the act. There is a big ‘Thakur dalan’ inside the palace, where people gather to celebrate. Crossing the Thakur dalan I was guided by the Manager into the interior of the house through a door. It led to a courtyard where the 1806 built “Pancha Chura” (Five Pinnacled) Radha Damodar Temple and two small Shiva temple is located. The temples have few but significant terracotta sculptures on them. The structures are very well maintained.
Whilst coming of this house I noticed a Ratha (Chariot) made of Bell metal inside an enclosure. The enclosure was locked so I could not go inside to have a closer look. There were paintings engraved in the bell metal depicting Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali and even NaraSimha avatar. However the most unique thing about the Ratha was on its both sides there were human figures made of same metal that seemed to be in falling condition, with head upside down. Also there were human figures hanging from the Ratha, some of them in European attire. When this Ratha is pulled by devotees with idols on the “Ratha Yatra” day, it must be a Grand show.
Next we visited the Radha Damodar temple of Mejo taraf, which was a Navaratna Temple. Located near a water body, the temple had detailed & well maintained detailed terracotta carvings of the Battle of Ramayana in Goddess Durga’s presence in its middle panel. I have seen many terracotta Panels displaying the battle of Ramayana, but very has such intrinsic details as this one.
On the left panel there was a terracotta plaque showing Lord Vishnu in Anantashayan Posture on the right. On the left of this panel a much detailed plaque shows Krishna being dressed up. Yashoda is seen fixing Krishna’s “Chura”(Headgear with the peacock feather). Accompanying with him is Balaram and another male figure (May Be Krishna’s friend Subal).
The Right panel shows A Gouranga (Combination of Rama, Krishna and Chaitanya) with Gour Nitai dancing, suggesting influence of Vaishnav Culture in the area. Cracks have developed in this panel.
Other than these, worth mentioning are a Large Terrcoatta Ganesh Idol sitting on a mouse and fresco work on the temple door.
Finally we visited the Nabaratna Temple of Choto Taraf, which is inside the Chototaraf Residence with ‘Thakur dalan.’ The outside of the Building is painted Red with a Triangular shaped entrance with two lion statue of the top.
The first thing which attracted me about this Nabaratna temple was its unique structure. It was very similar to a church. You have to cross the Thakurdalan to go inside a backyard of the house to see the temple.
The main panel of the temple displayed a scene of Mahabharata where Arjuna was targeting the fish eye in Draupdi’s swayambar. There were other panels involving Gaur Nitai, Shiva Parvati with Ganesha, Scenes from Ramayana, Social Scenes, War scenes and scenes involving Europeans. There were other three temple structure including a flat roofed “dalan” temple in the courtyard. They have been recently cemented with no terracotta on them. Durga Puja is also celebrated here with enough enthusiasm.
Outside the premises of Choto Taraf is the five pinnacled Damodar temple, where Shalagramshila is being Worshipped. Amita Kumar Bandopadhyay mentions in his book this to be Nabartana, But I found this to be a Pancharatna Temple. Here I observed what looked like two Anantasayane Vishnu face-to-face on its front wall. However on a close look up I found one to be Bhisma on bed of Arrows (Shara Shajja). Also there are scenes of battle of Ramayana on its wall. Nearby there is one ruined typical Bengal “Aatchala” Temple and the crumbling structure of a ‘Dalan’ (Flat roofed) Temple (locally named Chobbish Kuthuri) which looks more like a two storied house rather than a temple. The local story about this flat roofed temple says there is treasure buried under it, which is guarded by spirits!
Update 04.12.2014 : It was sad to know that half portion of the above mentioned panel does not exists anymore as the wall of the right portion of the temple has broken down.
The birth place of mathematician Shubhankar Das in the nearby village Rampur is practically in ruins. It may be worth mentioning here that Shubhankar Das was the creator of ‘Subhankari’ –an almost forgotten tradition of computation prevailing in pre-colonial Bengal.
Finally when I left for Bankura it was almost noon accompanied with the scorching dry heat. Nevertheless, I had a “feel-good” feeling from visiting the historically rich village of Hadal-Narayanpur and its friendly residents.
From Bankura Town
Leave 20:30 in the night by Howrah Purulia Express. Spend the night at Bankura Town and leave for Hadal-Narayanpur early next morning in a hired car. It will take one hour and forty five minutes to reach the village. Return back by Rupasi Bangla Express which leaves at 17:05 and reaches Howrah at 21:10
Take Rupasi Bangla Express at 06:00 in the morning and reach Bishnupur at 09:30. A drive from Bishnupur to Hadal-Narayanpur will take one hour and thirty minutes. It will take at least 3 hours to see all the temple structures and Mansions properly. On return you can stay at Bishnupur and leave next day. Else if you want to do a hectic day trip you can catch the Rupasi Bangla Express which leaves Bishnupur at 17:24.
You can also couple this journey an extension to a Bishnupur tour.
There are many local trains from Howrah to Barddhaman Junction. The journey takes 1:40 to 2:00 hours. A drive by a hired card will take 2 hours one way. From Barddhaman Junction, you will get several local trains to Howarh till evening and night.
From Barddhaman, apart from hired car you can get local buses too. You have to board a bus going to Sonamukhi at get down at Dhagaria. Unfortunately you may not always get conveyance to the village which means walking up and down for 10 kms.
Hadal-Naryanpur has no accommodation facilities. Neither has Sonamukhi. For breakfast/ lunch on the way, Sonamukhi is the only option. If you are traveling from Barddhaman, there are not much options for eateries on the way.
There are several medium budget hotels to stay at Bankura.
Bishnupur have plenty of hotels including the West Bengal Tourism Lodge
Barddhaman has several medium budget hotels for staying
1. Bankura Jelar Purakirti by Amiyakumar Bandopadhyay