In the east part of India, lies a state called West Bengal (quite ironic isn’t it!!) and in the northern part of the state lies a quaint town called Bishnupur, which is regarded as the nurturing ground of terracotta artwork. It is world famous for its terracotta temples and the balucheri sarees.
For almost a thousand years it was the capital of the Malla kings of Mallabhum, of which Bankura was a part. The patronage of Malla king Veer Hambir and his successors made Bishnupur one of the principal centres of culture in Bengal. Most of the exquisite terracotta temples for which town is justly famous were built during this period.
Today, Bishnupur is a charming town with well preserved archaeological monuments, a thriving terracotta art work & handicrafts scene and most of all, friendly locals. The whole town is an amalgamation of new and old, with the heritage structures standing beautifully alongside the modern constructions. going through the town one feels like being in an open air exhibition of terracotta architecture and culture.
Though it is not much known among Indians, lot of foreign research scholars and tourists frequent this town for the beautifully preserved terracotta heritage and unique arts & crafts.
For me, Bishnupur is more than a tourist destination, I have been to this place many a times since childhood and always more than a traveler, as it’s my grandfather’s (my mum’s uncle’s) native place. Each time, I have marveled at the beautiful terracotta monuments and also discovered some new monument each time!!…..It is an un-ending treasure-box of terracotta architecture for me!! But it pains my heart to see some of the neglected temples of Bishnupur.
Also, the shopaholic in me just loves to shop for terracotta art work and also Bishnupuri saris, which are made in this town and are a unique brand in themselves.
The Bishupuri saris are renowned in Bengalis for their handicraft; the scenes of epics Ramayana and Mahabharata are crafted in the saris in the terracotta art form and are a quite a visual treat to the eyes!!
And thanks to my many visits there, I have quite a collection of them ( I guess in every primary color except red!!)
If anyone ever visits West Bengal for a longer duration, a trip to this place is recommended by me….you will find this to be a terracotta dream come true!!!