Temples of Rajbalhat, West Bengal
Temples of Rajbalhat
Rajbalhat is a small village in the district of Hooghly, West Bengal, about 53 kilometers from Kolkata (Calcutta). This non-descriptive Bengal village is famous for its temples, especially the temple of Goddess Rajballabhi, a form of Goddess Kali with an unusual feature --- instead of the traditional Black/Blue colour of the goddess Kali, this idol is completely white. Locally known as Mother Rajballabhi, the goddess attracts thousands of devotees all round the year. She is considered to be the Patron Goddess of the place, & the village got its name Rajbalhat after her.
The temple of the Goddess, originally an ancient one, was renovated in 1933. It is enclosed inside a walled perimeter, which also houses four temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Three of these are on one side, with usual AAT-CHAALAA (8 roofed) type of Bengal temple architectural style . But the fourth, situated on the other side, is of special architecture. This temple is octagonal, & the aat-chaalaa roof has actually 8+8 slopes instead of 4+4 of the standard Aat-chaalaa temples.
The main temple of the Goddess is of Daalaan type, with flat roof. Inside , the idol of the Goddess stands with a benevolent look. Her right foot is on the chest of Voirab Shiva & the left foot rests on the head of Virupakshya Shiva. The idol, made of clay, is a tall one (about 8 feet tall), & is dressed in a SAARI which is unusually long (14 Haat, where one Haat equals to 18 inches). The normal length of the SAARI worn by ladies in Bengal is only 11 haat.
There is a big kitchen behind the main temple, where several items are cooked as offerings to the Goddess. In front of the temple there is a big pond, where the devotees take a ritual bath before entering into the temple.
Other temples of Rajbalhat:
Rajbalhat has some other temples also, the notable one being the Damodar Temple in Shilbati, the residence of local landlord (erstwhile) Shil family. Belonging to the rich Shil family, this temple was constructed in 1724 AD. Dedicated to Lord Damodar (a form of Lord Vishnu), this standard Aat-chaalaa brick temple of 18th century Hooghly-Burdwan style is decorated with exquisite terracotta figures & floral plus geometric designs. This temple with triple entrance is a treat to the eyes.
The terracotta figures, besides the usual ones from the epic Ramayana & Krishna Leela (the life story of Lord Krishna), also depict social scenes of the erstwhile Bengal.
How to reach there :
Ralbalhat can be reached from Kolkata by car or train. For the train passengers , Haripal on the Howrah-Tarakeswar line is the connecting station. From Haripal a number of buses & trekkers regularly go to Rajbalhat. It is about 20 km from Haripal.