Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short trip to Jewel in the crown of Bankura - Mukutmanipur and Bishnupur


Understand

Mukutmanipur is a small town in the Rarh region of West Bengal in India. Mukutmanipur is 55 km from Bankura and is situated near the confluence of rivers Kangsabati and Kumari. It is the second biggest earthen(man-made, mud-banked) dam in India. The nearest railway station is Bankura .

Green forests surround the vast bluish tract of water. Hillocks are essentially a dream come here.  The undulating terrain along the southern edge of the Kangsabati Water Reservoir spreads as a three-dimensional necklace of green and terracotta colour.
The vastness of the lake stretches as far one's eye can reach. The view of the sunset with the lake in the fore ground is breath-taking.
The ancient town near Mukutmanipur is Ambikanagar(4 km away). The Maharaja of Ambikanagar, christened Mukutmanipur after his beloved queen, Mukutmoni.
Mukutmanipur and the place Jhilimili nearby are the important centres for tourism in the region. The dam, a giant water reservoir, was constructed in 1956. It is located about 12 km from Khatra town in the district of Bankura. The dam was constructed under the supervision of the then Chief Minister of Bengal, Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, to provide irrigation facilities to 8,000 sq km of agricultural land.
It is now a picnic spot and many people come to the lakeside to relax and spend time.
Ideal time to visit Mukutmanipur :- During the monsoons, July and August, the time of the year, when the lock gates at the barrage is opened and also when the mud-dam at the Kangshabati can be easily seen. Or during the winter, end of November - January.


Get in

Trains are available from Kolkata to the nearest rail-head Bankura. Regular buses are available from Bankura to Mukutmanipur - distance 55 km.
Option 1 Train services are available from Kolkata (Howrah) - Rupashi Bangla Express leaves the Howrah station (new platform) at 6:00 a.m. and reaches Bankura at 10:20 a.m.
If you have your train reservations done, you need not worry, however, if you are travelling by the general compartment, you are advised to board the rear half of the train, since the front half is Dhauli Express, which goes to Bhubaneshwar. This switching over takes place at Kharagpur station, where the train stops for about fifteen minutes.



Option 2  Howrah -Bokaro passenger is also available from Howrah ( Dep time - 22:40) reaches Bankura at around 3 in the morning.
Option 3 You could also take Satabdi Express (Dep time - 6:05 a.m) or Black Diamond Express(Dep time- 6:15 a.m) from Howrah to Durgapur and take a bus to Mukutmanipur.
Option  4  Aranyak express train from Santragachi at 7:45 am and reach nearest big station  Bankura by 11:35 am .

From Bankura , you can reach Mukutmanipur by Bus or Car . You can taken private Taxi ( fare Rs 800) . - 1 and a half hour journey.TATA SUMO will take Rs.250-300 extra. . You can contact Dipak, (Ph: +91 9679717291) for a visit to Mukutmanipur from Bankura/ Bishnupur.

Bus services available from Machantala bus stop (at Bankura) from 5 in the morning.

Car
One can also drive down from Kolkata to Mukutmanipur easily.
There are two routes. 



The shorter one (241 km) is Kolkata > Baidyabati > Tarakeshwar > Arambagh > Bishnupur (NH 60) > Bankura (SH9) > Mukutmanipur.
The second possible route (270 km) is Kolkata > Dankuni > Bardhaman > Durgapur (till here NH2) > Bankura (SH9) > Mukutmanipur.
However we explored the first route. After Arambagh around 20 Km of the road is bad , otherwise both SH or NH is quite good.

Personally, I would suggest you to go by car from Kolkata to Mukutmanipur. After you reach Mukutmanipur, you would find your car very useful, since your local conveyance would be a motor-pulled cart or auto  and are relatively expensive. There are very few such vans available in the area. Actually it is cheaper to come by car !

Bus
The second route is normally recommended because of the excellent road condition in spite of the additional 30 km.
Regular buses are available from Kolkata, a distance 250 km.

Orientation

In Mukutmanipur, apart from the dam, there are many tourist spots, which make it an important place in West Bengal from the tourism point of view.
The major tourist places in this city and surrounding area are Pareshnath hill, Statue of Pareshnath, Bonpukuria Deer Park, Palace of King Raicharan.
It is a very small town. The road from Bankura becomes a fork. Before the fork there is Green Hotel. At the fork one road goes towards Jhilimili, Sutan and other one goes towards the end the dam.
Before the dam one road goes towards Peerless Hotel on the right.

5/3/15 (Thursday)

Today is Dol and tomorrow (Friday) is Holi holiday. So we left by car, We were four – Bidhanda,Boudi, Mohua and I. Our hotel Green Park hotel (9002 42 33 42 and 9434 65 16 63 - owner Sudip is a very nice gentleman)  is in an excellent location. All other hotels are booked because of this extended weekend. 
I thought this hotel has one of the best locations. It is around 1.5 Km from the dam. So there is no crowd – no hotel – no house nearby.There is a nice garden inside the complex. It took approximately 5.50 hrs to 6 hours to reach our hotel. We started at 8 am from South Kolkata and reached comfortably at 1 pm. We had some snacks near Arambagh. Every now and then our car was splashed with colour by children playing Dol beside the road.


After reaching there we took our launch. AC Room rent is Rs 1700 and non AC room was Rs 650 (I stayed here and was the only one available then. However there was no need to put on the AC actually) for peak season.There is a place to sleep for drivers too and enough car parking space.There is also a 8 bed dormitory - which looked nice. We took a short nap after our lunch.



Other hotels

There are not too many hotels here. None of the hotel’s number are veified by me

·Hotel Amrapali +91 3243 253208, +91-9434224674. 
Rs. 600-6,000. 
·Hotel Aparajita +91-9434224674-+91-3243-253355, +91 9434480632, 9434108611, 9433447466 
Non-AC rooms:Rs. 600, AC rooms:Rs. 900-1800, Deluxe rooms: Rs. 3,000 - 6,000. 
·Peerless Resort +91 9932787993, 9434052430, 9748401084 (Accounts dept), peerlessresort@yahoo.com. 
Double bedded room Rs. 2600, Triple bedded room Rs. 2800, Four bedded room Rs. 3,000. 
·Kangsabati Bhawan. Bookings at Irrigation and Water Supply Dept, Govt of W Bengal, Writer's Building, Kolkata 
·Sonajhuri Prakriti Bhraman Kendra (Cottages).  West Bengal Forest Developement Corporation, 6A Raja Subodh Mullick Square, 7th Floor, Kolkata-13. Near Hind Cinema, Landmark- Dharamtala Post Office, Phone - 22370060/61. Booking time - Till 3:30 p.m.

This hotel is built atop a hillock covered with green trees. The view from the cottages Haritaki and Amlaki is very picturesque . Book well in advance. Spot booking permitted subject to availability of rooms .
The WBFDC’s “Sonajhhuri Prakiti Bhraman Kendra” resort is very well built on the slope of a small hill covered with dense forest of Sonajhhuri trees (and hence the name of the resort). Depending upon which cottage you stay you need to climb up and down around 50-60 stairs each time you come down to your car or to have your food in the dining hall.
Tips from a fellow blogger
The best among them in respect of scenic views are "SHAL & PIYAL".  Food quality is too good - very homely and delicious. Service is very fine especially the boy BIJOY is always at your service. He is very much honest and polite too.
And DONT MISS TO TRY "POSTO BARA"(SNACKS PREPARED FROM POPPY SEEDS) HERE. 


Around 4 pm , we took the car to go to the dam . Today being Dol the Kangsabati Dam is closed !.
So we  booked   a local boat trip. We managed to get a good deal for boating at Rs 350 for approx. for 3 hours boating. 

Boating in Mukutmanipur dam cover 3 places : Pareshnath temple , Deer park and Mohona . All are nearby places .




Bonpukuria  deer park :  Deer park located on an  island in the middle of the Mukutmanipur dam called Bonpukuria Mrigadhaba . It was 30 min boat ride. From island we took a motor rickshaw ( they charged Rs 120  for to and fro booking  for 1.5 km jungle ride to reach deer park) .
You can reach there by walking and enjoy mini forest walking. We were late but still saw one deer in the forest. We spent 15  min there and came back boating ghat . The Bonpukuria deer park is not very special.
This is an Island in the middle of the lake (Bonpukuria Mrigadhaba is 1.5 km from Ferry Ghat). Ferry service:Usually every 4 hours in winter. Ferry service: Rs. 25-30 per head. The deer park is inside the Island.

Mohona : From this island you can see the mohona of  Kangsabati and Kumari . It was 10 min boating to reach near mohona . From here we saw a wonderful sunset .
You can see  Pareshnath temple  from here . After 10 min boating near Mohona ,  we could have set for our last boating trip  to  Pareshnath temple , but we skipped it, since we are taking a car ride tomorrow along the dam. So in any case we can see the temple tomorrow. Actually the temple is located on the dam itself.

One must also experience the moonlit night around the lake. We actually were inside the lake boating and saw the moonlit lake from the boat.



After disembarking from the boat it was already quite dark , we spent some time beside the dam and had some snacks and went back to our hotel. We took our dinner little early and went to bed little early. We had our dinner in the hotel itself.

6/3/15 (Friday)

Today we left for for Jhilimili trip by our car . This is a half day drip. Normally Taxi charges Rs 1000. We have taken route though Ambika Nagar route. On the way to Jhilimili forest (30 km journey) we have seen tribal village , nicely decorated ( painted ) mud houses along the road . The trees are riot of colours - Palash and Shimul.











Ambikanagar was an ancient town and pilgrimage centre of the Jains and the remnants of it are still available at a distance of 4 kilometres from the lake. 
We went to the temple and also saw the dilapidated Rajbari of Ambikanagar.The shondha-arati begins at 7 p.m. 
Around 25 km away is the spot of Chhendapahar, where a training school and underground manufacturing factory of arms existed during the days of India’s war for freedom. Various arms had been supplied to the freedom fighters like Prafulla Chaki and Khudiram Bose.
Then after 18 km drive from Mukutmanipur , we entered in Rani Bandh  area .  It’s a small tribal town and surrounded by jungle . From here you can visits to tourist place located deep inside the jungle .
First is Talberia Dam and second one is Sutan . Both are on the left hand side.

We have chosen Talberia dam for its scenic beauty. We spent 30 minutes there. It was so serene that we could not sense how the tine has been passed by .
The road towards Sutan is amazing and is simply world class and one of the best roads I have ever seen in India. 


Previously this was Maoist infested and we saw a site house which has been torched by the Maoist. It was really a awesome place . It’s  a natural  dam covered by hillocks and lush green forest. 
Then we had some nice lunch at  Jhilimili town. Drving along the hill road toward Mukutmanipur was awesome experience.
We had to rush to reach the ticket counter of dam. Passes are issued free of cost near the dam from 8 am to 12 am in the morning and 2 pm to 4 pm in the afternoon. To visit the dam, for which passes are required only for 04 wheeler holders.

You would have to take a motor-pulled cart and travel the 11 km stretch of road along the Kangshabati river(these motor pulled cart don't required any passes.We were told to return by 5.45 pm.

The height of the dam is 38 metres with a lake of 86 sq km. A drive over the dam is recommended. One needs to collect passes to enter this road.
To visit the dam, you would have to take a motor-pulled cart and travel the 14 km stretch of road along the Kangshabati river. Go during the sunset. It is breath-takingly beautiful .
A drive over the dam is recommended. The length of the motorable road over the dam is approx. 14 km. On the way, you will also see the Pareshnath Hillock. We spend some time sitting in the middle of the dam. On the way back we went to Pareshnath  Temple . You can reach this place by boating or local rickshaw . We have climbed the Pareshnath hill and on the hill top we have seen shiva  lingam . At Pareshnath hill where several statues of Jain and Hindu deities are kept in open air. These statues are recovered during digging while the dam was built. 

From here you can see the awesome view of Mukutmanipur dam. 
  



We saw one of the most beautiful  sunsets from the temple. We had some sugar cane juice there . Like us many people were sitting there for the sunset. Once the sun was set , all the temporary food stalls were closed. The hillock is basically somewhere in the middle of the dam.
Pareshnath hill, considered as one of the most important pilgrimage centres of Jains, is the highest peak in this area at 1350 metres. The name of the hill was derived from the name of the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. It is the place where twenty of the twenty-four Jain Tirthankaras found salvation from life. The hills are located in Giridih district of Jharkhand.

Pareshnath hill, which is a Jain pilgrimage centre, is the highest summit in this area. The hill is named after the 23rd Tirthankaras of the Jains and is the location of attainment of salvation of the 20 Jain Tirthankaras. This range of hills however, is under the Jharkhand’s Giridih District. There is a temple on the top of the hill of Lord Shiva.

Tips: From Pareshnath temple , one can book boating for only deer park ( to & fro boating price Rs 20-30 ) instead of hiring the boat.



Then we returned back to our hotel and took our dinner . Then after dinner we went to see the village by our car, near our hotel near the newly constructed stadium to see some local festival. Today Chou dancers will perform. Since it will start late so we decided to return our hotel without watching the show!


7/3/15 (Saturday)

Bishnupur 

We packed our luggage and checked out of the hotel. We   put our luggage in the car. Our plan is  to go to  Bishnupur and Panchmura.
On the way to Bishunupur , we stopped at Khatra town for breakfast . It’s the same way taking us to  Bankura  station . After a 10 min drive , we take road at the right towards Bishnupur. After few km ride we entered jungle area  . It was an awesome experience to cross the long stretch of jungle . In next one and half an hour time we reached Bishnupur . It was about 2.5  hours relax driving from Mukutmanipur to Bishnupur.First we saw Rasmancha.
1. Rasmancha : King Birhambir established this in 1600 A.D. .We took ticket Rs. 5 /- per head from here and keep this ticket as you need to show this at other temples . It’s a unique infrastructural combination of pyramid and our own Hindu temple. Top part is built with bricks and base built with makra stone . There is a beautiful lawn before the temple. We entered the temple with torch as if we are watching mummy return movie. But it’s small structure. Still I feel this is the top 3 temple in Bishnupur.

2. Madanmohan Temple : it was built by Mallaya king Durjan Singh in 1694 AD. Our driver took us to this spot through narrow road passing through Shakhari Para . I found it also in top 3 temple in Bishnupur . Whole mandir is decorated with beautiful sculptures of animal, krishnalila , ten avatars of lord krishna . If you reach early there you can offer puja to God Madan Mohan.

3. Shyamrai temple: This beautiful terracotta temple was built by Mallaya king Raghunath Singh .it’s popularly known as Pachchura mandir . We have found mastery of terracotta work is beyond our explanation. As per local guide we have found four lines inscription on the right facing wall of the temple.

Guide pointed a Gumgarh while entering into this temple, it looks intimidating as if it was a testimonial of old style torture house. But guide informed that it was used for storing water as historian found many water pipes of terracotta near this site. : It is one of the famous terracotta temples at Bishnupur
4. Other Important temples : 



Jor bangla temple : this place you can find 4 popular temple in a single place and they are situated 50-70 meters apart from each others .
a. Jor bangla temple : it was built by Mallaya king Rraghu Nath Singh I in 1655 AD. It is popularly known as Krishna Rai Mandir . We spent 10 min here .
b.Radhashyam temple : This was built by Mallaya king Chaitanya Singh in 1758 AD. This temple has a nahavat khana at the entrance of temple . As per historian, sahanai and other local music were played here. Temple sculpture is good and we have found small lanterns shops here . Bishnupur is famous for this lanterns industry.
c. Radha Lalijiu temple : we have identified this at a corner of a big playground. This Radha Krishna mandir wad built by Mallaya king Virsingh in 1658 AD.

d. Big and small stone gate. We have found big gate at the other end of the playground. It was used as a northern entrance of Bishnupur fort . There was a place for army to position with armours .we have also seen small gate and stone chariot.
Our second phase trip was over. We took some rest  with  juice and snacks.
6. Dalmadal canon : As per history , it was used to drive out bargi ( maratha invaders ) by King Bhaskar Rao in 1742 AD. Its length is 3.8 meter and diameter is 30 cm.
In 1919 British raj put this canon on a podium for tourist visit. Mallya had many canons, but British has most of those from Bishnupur.


Bishnupur the ancient capital of “MALLYA” dynasty is rich repository of some excellent terracotta temples. Before start to visit temple one ticket of Rs 5/- has to be bought from Rash Mancha. The single ticket covers visiting all the temples.

ART AND CRAFT 

1.      One of the most expensive saris in India called the Baluchari saris & Swarnachari sarees are created by craftsmen of this place. The best place to buy Baluchari & Swarnachari is ANUBHABA & KANISKA. Everywhere you will see their signboard.

The colored strands pass through these holes and fall into place very precisely on the loom. One sari may have an entire episode from the Mahabharata woven into its border and pallu. Best shop to buy saree is Kanishka.

2.   The name Dokra or Dhokra was used to indicate a group of craftsmen of nomadic type, scattered over Bengal, Orissa and Madhya Pradash and ware identified by their beautifully shaped and decorated metal products. The craftsmen have latter on settled down in some areas of Burdwan, Bankura and Midnapore districts of West Bengal leaving their nomadic character. Most of such craftsmen had left the craft leaving only a few families in the trade.

Dokra system of metal casting is said to be oldest form of metal casting and is technically known as  lost wax process. A replica of the desired product is made with wax on a clay core with all its finer details of designs and decorations. A few coats of finely prepared clay paste is applied over the model and dried in the shade. The technique of casting revolves round replacement of wax with molten metal by the traditional hollow casting method. Brass scrap in generally used as raw material.


In recent years, the product of Dokra artisans are in great demand in domestic and foreign market because of it primitive simplicity enchanting folk motifs and forceful form. Though, originally it developed at Bikna village of Bankura-II block under Bankura Sadar Sub-Division, but artisans of Patrasayer of Bishnupur Sub-Division, which is 30 km away from Bishnupur town, produce Dokra items with very fine polish. Products like dokra horses, elephants, peacock owl, religious images, and measuring bowls, lamp caskets etc., are highly appreciated.

3.  The conch shell carving is one of the traditional art of Bishnupur. Traditional artisans, mostly belonging to Sankha Banik caste partake conch shell curving at Sankhari Bazar, Malleswar and Kadakuli. Besides, making bangles, the artisans beautifully curve various mythological character of Hindu pantheons on conch shell. Sri Gopal Nandi, one of the eminent artisan and President Medal Awardee still displays beautiful and intricate art of conch shell carving. Generally, it takes more than a months of hard labour to design a conch shell and obviously a costly item. Since such designed conch shell is very costly, therefore, the artisans are shifting to coconut shell curving to find markets.

4.      The most famous art form of Bishnupur is its terracotta work. The exquisite craftsmanship of the terracotta artisans is evident in the Madanmohana Temple and the Shyam Rai Temple. The temple walls are richly decorated with the carvings of different aspects of Krishna's life-playing with Radha and the other milkmaids, incarnations of Vishnu, etc.

Artisans of Uliwara village of Bishnupur and adjacent Panchmura village of Taldangra block produce fine quality of Terracotta tiles, beautiful gift-items, burnt clay models.



Panchmura
First we had our lunch at a hotel near West Bengal tourism Deptts guest house. Then we left for Panchmura.  The road in front of the guest house goes towards the bus terminal/stand. From there first we went to Bakadah and from there we went to Choubeta More - from where we took right turn to go to Panchmura. There is another route , it is better to follow this route though you have drive more.It is around 25 Km from Bishnupur.


We bought many items there – horse, elephant and tiger and flower vase etc.
It was already late so we had to drop the idea of going to Jayrambati & Kamarpukur . The road upto Jaipur in between the Jaipur forest range on the way to Jayrambati - Kamarpukur is beautful . Jairambati and Kamarpukur is the birth place of Sri Saradama and is located just 43 km away from Bishnupur town. The Matri Mondir at Jairambati offers Prasad every day at 11.30 am.



We reached home quite late around 11 pm.    


Source:  




2.. wikitravel.com 

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