Baranagore or Baranagar is famous for its well-known temple compound which was constructed by Rani Bhabani (1714-1793), who was the Zamindar of Natore in Murshidabad. She wanted to build Baranagar as largely as Kashi. Baranagore is actually a temple complex, consisting of around 12 temples, stretching for around half kilometres. Baranagar is often referred to as Bengal’s Kashi.
Baranagore is closely located to Azimganj and the entire temple compound is simply captivating. The unique feature of these temples is that they have been constructed with bricks and are regarded as one of the most outstanding instances of the terracotta art of Bengal.
The principal temples are the Charbangla, Bhabinaswara, Rajrajeshwari, and Jor Bangla temples. People also visit the palace of the royal dynasty.
History of Baranagore
Rani Bhabani had her residence on the riverbanks of the holy Bhagirathi. She was famous for donating huge amounts of money to charitable organizations. A significant part of Rani’s Zamindari was bequeathed to the Brahmins as rent free land or Lakhiraj to support them and perform other benevolent purposes. Rani Bhabani was an ardent supporter of Hinduism and donated freely for promoting learning. Her dedication and piousness were unmatched and her name as a religious, god-fearing, progressive and kind woman became familiar in every home of Bengal. She paid Rs.70 Lakhs to the Nazim, the then ruler of Bengal, as revenue and accumulated rents (khazna) amounting to over Rs.1.5 crores. Unfortunately, she lost her husband at the age of only 32. However, she became a celebrity among the common people due to her governing astuteness. Motivated by the learning of Hinduism, she wished to construct a Varanasi in Bengal. Beginning since 1755, a rambling compound housing more than 12 temples was constructed in Baranagore. Most of them have been ruined. However, some are still there which bear testimony to the grandeur of the yesteryears of Bengal.
There is an image of “Panchanan Shiv” at the southermost area of the complex. There are five faces (Panch= five) of this image.
About Baranagore Temples
These temples are a symbol of Hindu Zamindari in Murshidabad district during the 18th century. They are closely located to the Azimganj station and the distance is just around one mile. The temple compound covers a radius of 1.5 km and is ascribed to the Raja of Natore and his family. Rani Bhabani was the principal proposer of this complex and added a number of creative and artistic features.
This is the principal tourist draw of Baranagore. It was constructed in 1760 and is a tiny four-sided field bordered by four large temples. There are three entrances to every temple and three Shiva idols inside. You will also see pictures of Mahabharata and Ramayana on the walls of the mandir. The dochala pattern of Bengali architecture is a unique aspect of this temple. Its wrapped in terracota.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and was constructed by Rani Bhabani’s daughter Tarasundari. The elevation is 18 meters (with a structure resembling an inverted flower atop with lotus petals spread in 8 directions) and you will find wall paintings in the exterior and interior of the temple. The dome atop the temple is quite big. It was built in 1755.
Raj Rajeshwari Temple
This temple is home to a statue of Goddess Durga which was manufactured by combining eight metals, also known as Ashta Dhatu. You will also find the Hindu deities of Jaidurga, Madangopal, Vishnu, Mahalakhsmi and Karunamoyee. There is an image of Lord Shiva with five faces, also known as Panchanan Shiva. Framed in 6*3 panel, the image of Maa Durga is a perfect picture of grandeur and artistic splendor. The delapidated castle in which Rani breathed her last, is also on the northern side. Keep walking further north and you will come across Ashta Bhij Ganesh Mandir and Jora Bangla Mandir
Jor Bangla Temple
It is also known as the Gangeshwar Temple. It is the finest example of terracotta architecture in Bengal during the 18th century. There are three Shiva mandirs as its subset and they are the Kastureshwar Shiva, the Gangeshwar Shiva and the Nageshwar Shiva. The distance from Charbangla Mandir is one kilometer. Jor stands for pair and Gangeshwar Mandir comprises two identical Ek-bangala mandirs that are immensely decorated and rest on three archways. The Shivalingam of Kastureshwar Temple was set up by Kasturi Devi, Rani’s mother.
A Gopal Mandir built by Tarashundari is delapidated today.
How to reach Baranagore
The distance of Murshidabad from Kolkata is about 221 km. There is good connectivity via rail and road.
If you want you can stay at the Azimganj city, a mile away-
Hotel Annapurana and Hotel Akashganga
Deluxe room: 200 A/c 800
If you don’t want to stay then traverse the route from Azimganj to Behrampur or Kolkata via Akhraghat by train.