Temples of Bhukailash Rajbari in Kolkata
Some of the finest yet less explored heritage temples in Kolkata is in Kidhirpur (Kidderpore) area of the busy metropolis. These are the temples of Bhukailash Rajbari (Royal Palace of Bhukailash). Though the temple complex and the adjacent ‘Rajbari’ (Royal Palace) are sprawled over an area of about 50 acres, the place is difficult to reach for an outsider as it is situated in the heart of a busy locality resided by Hindi/ Bhojpuri speaking people. However, once one gets there, one is simply awestruck by the serene beauty and the sublime atmosphere of the place.
The temples of Bhukailash Rajbari
There are three main temples, two of which are dedicated to Lord Shiva and the third one to the goddess Patita Pabani, the ‘Kuladevi’ (Family Deity) of the royal family of Bhukailash. Besides these three, there are a number of smaller temples too.
The Shiva temples of Bhukailash Rajbari
The Shiva temples, constructed in 1781 by Maharaja Joy Narayan Ghoshal, boast of having two of the largest Shiva Lingams in India, or to say, the world. The names of the Shiva Lingams are ‘RAKTA KAMALESWAR’ (on the east side) and ‘KRISHNA CHANDRESWAR’ (on the west). Both the Lingams are built with a type of black stone (‘Kashti Pathar’) considered sacred by the Hindus, and are about 11 feet tall. These two temples, ‘AATCHALA’ (eight roofed) in design, are situated on the northern bank of a large pond called Shiva Ganga Pond. In front of both the temples, there is the stone built statue of Nandi the Bull.
Apart from these two big temples, here are six smaller temples on the bank of this pond. From the north west corner they are (in anti-clockwise fashion) dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Rama with Sita, Lord Hanuman, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Krishna with Radha and Lord Shiva with goddess Durga.
The temple of Goddess Patita Pabani Durga of Bhukailash Rajbari
Just opposite to the Shiva temple complex across the road is the now dilapidated royal palace inside which is the temple complex housing the temple dedicated to Goddess Patita Pabani (a name of Goddess Durga). On entering the temple premises from the eastern side, the first thing which catches the eye is a small building with two small canons on either side located directly opposite the gate. This is the ‘Joy Narayan Mandir’. On one side of this structure is a small temple dedicated to Panchanana Shiva (Lord Shiva with five faces) and on the other there is a small temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. Turning right, the main temple of Goddess Patita Pabani Durga is seen on the northern side. It is a ‘Dalan’ type of temple constructed by Maharaja Joy Narayan Ghoshal in 1782, one year after he was conferred the title of “MAHARAJA BAHADUR’ by the Emperor of Delhi Muhammad Jahanjar Shah. The idol of Goddess Durga inside is made of ‘ASHTADHATU’ (an alloy of eight metals).
There are two other small temples, one dedicated to Mahadeva Shiva and the other to Mahakal Bhairab. These two temples are situated on either side of the entrance gate.
History of Bhukailash Royal family
It will be unfair if something is not said about the royal Ghoshal family of Bhukailash, one of the oldest and respected Zamindars (Land lords) of Bengal.
The history of Bhukailsh Zamindars starts from Kandarpa Ghoshal who hailed from the village of Govindapur (one of the three original villages from where the city of Calcutta or Kolkata grew). He was relocated from the area which was then being developed for the Fort William to Kidderpore in 1758. His son Gokul Chand became very rich mainly by Salt trade with the British. He was later made the Dewan of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh) under the Bristish. After Gokul Chand, the affairs were managed by Joy Narayan who was the son of Gokul Chand’s brother Krishna Chandra. Joy Narayan was a gifted man and he made the family highly prosperous. In 1781 he constructed the two Shiva temples and named the presiding deities (Lord Shiva) after his parents. In 1782 he built the temple of Goddess Patita Pabani, the family deity (Kula Devi). He was a very pious man and donated money for many philanthropic works. He also donated money for the construction of St. John’s Church in Kolkata in 1782. Because of his good works, his fame spread beyond Bengal and even reached Delhi. The Mughal Emperor of Delhi Muhammad Jahanjar Shah conferred the title of ‘MAHARAJA’ (Great King) to him in 1782.
Joy Narayan later left Kolkata and settled in Benares and his son Kali Shankar took over.
History of the name “Bhukailash”
The name “Bhukailash” means “Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, on earth”. The name was given by the famous poet-saint Sadhak Ramprasad, after he visited the place and was enchanted by the beauty of the place.
Bhukailash Rajbari was declared a heritage place by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in 1996, and major restoration work was undertaken by the corporation. It is one heritage place in Kolkata which deserves more exposure to National and International tourists.