Bishnupur – The Town of Terracotta Temples - Sourav Laha
West Bengal Tourism has a lot of underrated gems to offer to World Travelers. West Bengal, also known as Paschimbanga in local dialect Bengali, is a state in the eastern region of India along the Bay of Bengal. Bengal has a lot to offer in terms of Culture and Tourism. These places are still underrated compared to other popular tourist destinations of India. I would like to highlight one such place in West Bengal named Bishnupur. Bishnupur is a small town in the Bankura District of Bengal.
About the place: It was the kingdom of Mallabhum dynasty and is famous for its Terracotta (baked earth) and stone work. All the temples are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.
Bishnupur is well connected from Kolkata; you may reach there by Train (201 km) or by Road (155 km). On an average it takes 4-5 hours to reach there from Kolkata. The best time to visit is Nov-March. The local sightseeing can be covered in a day. A 2N/3D tour is sufficient to cover Bishnupur and nearby places. As part of the local sightseeing, the following are to be covered :
- Madan Mohan Temple
- Shyam Rai Temple
- Jor Bangla Temple
- Radha Laljiu Temple
- Mrinmoyee Temple
- Gum Ghar
- Stone Chariot
- Stone Gateway
- Dol Madal Cannon
- Chinnmasta Temple
- Lal Bandh & Sarba Mangala Temple
- Radha Shyam Temple
Among the nearby places one must cover Susunia or Mukutmanipur, both are around 30-40 kms from Bishnupur.
Bishnupur is famous for silk sarees specially the handcrafted Balucharies, Terracotta Horses, Dokra Art, Stone & Terracotta Sculptures.
Places to stay: At Bishnupur there are a handful of hotels and lodges for stay, among which I felt the Bishnupur Tourist Lodge of West Bengal Tourism is the best option. Apart from the tourist lodge there are other decent stays like Hotel Annapurna, Banalata Resort etc.
- Bishnupur can be covered easily in 2 days. So if you have one more day you can consider Mukutmanipur in your itinerary.
- If one has more days in hand the entire district of Bankura has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, You can visit to Jayrambati, the birthplace of Rama Krishna Paramhansa.
- Assuming you are going from Kolkata by train, on an average a 2N/3D trip to Bishnupur will cost Rs 6000-7000 INR (approx.) for 2 people.
- If visiting in months other than Nov-Mar, carry shades, sunscreen, umbrella to save yourself from Sun.
- Do carry a pair of sneakers in case you plan for Susunia.
- In case you are planning to go during the winters, just check if you can manage to see the Santhali Dance. Every year from 23rd to 27th December there is a fare “Bishnupur Mela.” So try to cover that also. (Due to the Pandemic of Covid-19, the fare may not be available)
Bishnupur is a jewel and spending a day here is blasphemy ! With 7 major temples (which I could not cover due to lack of time) not done, Bishnupur had scores of other places and sights to see. The Terracotta Handicraft Industry of Bishnupur is huge with exports to foreign locales. The Bishnupur terracotta horses are world famous. Places like Madan Mohan Pur, Jagannathpur, Dihar have similar historical temples and monuments.
It would be sad affair to come to Bishnupur and leave without doing the above mentioned untouched places. They are all in the Bankura District.
The best suggestion? Go to Bankura for a week! Leave enchanted !
P.S. All the pictures have been clicked by me.
Book Review of Vision and Creations by Nandalal Bose - Sruthi V S
Nandalal Bose’s Vision and Creation is a well structured book about art and the process of creating it.
Nandalal Bose was one of the pioneers of modern Indian art. He was passionate about his own artistic style and open to different art traditions. The significance of his work is that it’s aim is to make different artistic style, its logic, and knowledge accessible to a new generation of Indian artists. But he did this so quietly and without self-assertive fanfare that the significance of his work is yet to be fully grasped even in India. He was profoundly influenced by the murals of the Ajanta Caves. He loved to paint scenes from Indian mythologies, women and village life. His creation of black on white linocut depicting Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi march is recognised as the symbol for non-violence movement. He has also sketched the emblems for the Govt. of India’s awards like the Bharat Ratna, the Padma Shri, etc.
As the title of the book, Vision and Creation, thematically Bose does the same in this book. The book has been divided into two parts, the first one titled, ‘Speaking of Art’ where he highlights ideas regarding the vision of the artist. He defines art as, “Art is imagination; it is the expression of aesthetic experience in line and colour. It fulfills itself, too, in evoking such an experience.” The second part titled, ‘The Practice of Art’, where he has recorded observations for various art practises, so that it helps art students to learn new techniques. Hence, justifying the title, Vision and Creation. Using simple words, the idea gets shared across to the reader about his own passion with art.
The first chapter on ‘The Place of Art in Education’, he convinces his readers to the need of education and training in art for purposeful education. He argues that the lack of art education has deprived not only aesthetic experience but created a disconnect with our own rich art heritage while as he wrote, “gape in amazement at Japanese dolls as if they are great specimens of art.” As his own book contributes as a resource material to students, the need for well qualified teachers and specimens of art In his essay, ‘Speaking of Art’, he points out three basic concerns of the art discipline- Originality, Nature and Tradition. He promotes and takes the readers further into the discipline by introducing classifications of paintings. His simple writing complimented by makes it easy for a novice to understand classifications of art practices. He argues heavily on the inspiration from nature and the potential for its creative inspiration for young artists. Moreover, he structures his argument in such a way it becomes easy to understand.
There are various references to Upanishads, Sanskrit sayings, expressions of Japanese poets, Chinese sayings, etc. Art having universal appeal and the universality of the aesthetic pleasure one draws is the main idea projected through most of these references and adds to what each of them lacks. For example, he writes in his book, “ You cannot locate the essence of a landscape among the nine emotional essences (rasas); its spirit may be said to be one of ‘peace’ or empathy. The Chinese probably inherited it from the teachings of Lao-Tzu.” So, the source of locating the essence of the landscape is located in the Chinese teachings.
An interesting read is the chapter on “Ornamental Art’. Initially, I associated it with jewellery making but after reading I came to know that jewellery, carpet making, floor decoration, embroidery, illumination as examples of Ornamental Art. The principles of ornament art draw inspiration from nature and the observations of various forms and shapes. However, ornamentation is described to be simpler than complex forms of nature, this has been illustrated with diagrams. As any art must have balance, the author discusses the importance of balance and pause here as well. It is well described how symmetry, spacing, combinations of colors and tonal shades makes the piece come out alive and gives the aesthetic pleasure which we derive from it.
Bose is also very meticulous in his writing. One can make out from the elaborate description he has given on the materials used. These tried and tested methods make it convenient for art students to follow these and find their own working module rather than needlessly go about on their own after various techniques and materials. He even encourages artists to share their innovative tools and techniques and be wary of recipients of it. One understands the point further when he explains that creative men must be wary of unfit recipients who are selfish, who would earn name and fame through misuse rather than to put them into creative use. I appreciate the whole section on ‘Mud Wall and Mud Fibre Coat (Uluti)’. In this chapter, Bose shares information which he has collected from the Radh region of using and making clay. I believe this kind of information is shared for the first time in writing. Art practises such as those whose knowledge is limited to being passed over generations and certain geographical regions finds a place in written literary text which can be accessed to anyone. Thus, substantiating his argument for the need of writing about various art practices.
This book proves his analytical power thoroughly. His sincerity to the discipline of art and the passion of taking it to the future generation is evident. The illustrations used in the book makes it possible to interpret various methods, especially the natural form and structures, which he himself has drawn. These illustrations provide aid to visualising the nature of materials used, how they are used and the process of creation to its readers. As he wrote, indeed through his book he attempted to possibly remedy the crisis of art education of his time which is still of value for the current and forthcoming generations as well. It would have been more useful for readers if he mentioned possible revenue avenues for the art practises he has described in his book. Recommending to read the first part of the book for everyone!
About Sruthi V S:
Sruthi V S is an independent researcher and has previously taught as Assistant Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Delhi. Her background includes Masters in Arts & Aesthetics from Jawaharlal Nehru University and Bachelors in Humanities and Social Sciences from the University of Delhi. Coming from an interdisciplinary background, her research interest includes art, culture, world, media and politics.