Chasing Temples in the Capital of Mallabhum (Bishnupur) – 3

Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

4 day trip including journey dates – 20/12/2017 – 23/12/2017

Day 1 || Day 2 || Day 3 || Day4

Terracotta or baked earth art is extensively in use in West Bengal, from temples to jewellery, decorative sculptures to tiles and everything in between. The rest of India and abroad also adores terracotta, for its pliability which helps give form to a plethora of ideas that is bound only by one’s imagination.   The sun was shining bright negating the weather forecast and we set out to shoot all that we could at will. 24 temples was a bit too over the top sort of a target but one must try.   This time we started from the nearest one. Rasmanch. You got to buy a ticket, Rs.15 per head, it also pays for two other temples maintained by ASI, Pancha Ratna and Jor Bangla.   Rasmanch is a raised platform for displaying the idols of Radha and Krishna from temples around on a particular occasion. It has the essence of a step pyramid to it. There are loads of Drongos for the bird lovers.  

A 10 min walk along the canal took us to the Gumgarh, which is a very ancient structure and is yet to reveal its purpose to the archaeologists.   The famed Pancha Ratna temple is another 5 min walk. We found it being renovated and thus could not capture this one of a kind beauty with 5 pinnacles; the images we took are like that of a bandaged heroine.  

Further up the road, we found a twin temple which now has the privilege to witness martial arts training.

The Mrinmoyee temple comes up next as we keep going along the road. Built in 997 AD, this temple houses goddess Durga and is alive with the sacred rituals being performed till date.

Bang opposite to the Mrinmoyee temple on the main road is the Radheshyam temple. Across the grounds beside it, where children were happily playing is another hottie the Laljiu temple.

Marching backward through the grounds onto a mud lane on the other side of Radheshyam temple we found Jor Banglo, the most famous of them all. It had a small contingent of makeshift shops in front of the entrance selling souvenir and also some local specialties like the cotton towels the size of almost a bedspread for peanuts.

We had refreshments at an open-air spread out shop which had benches to sit, tea, biscuits of all sorts, sour, sweet, sweet and sour, chocolate flavoured, adorned with nuts and many more. It also had a dish favoured by most Bengalis, the ‘ghugni’ which was on offer with or without bun. ‘ghugni’ is black gram or dried yellow peas or dried white peas cooked with gravy, in the traditional eastern Indian style.

A mud lane from the gate leads up to the Mrinmoyee temple, we went past the temple looking for a place to relieve ourselves and found one behind it. It is a ‘Sulabh’ sort of a place, not so unclean and usable. The keeper, however, was very confused about what to charge. He wanted to ask something big but was suddenly mobbed as a bigger group came around. This group had ‘English speaking Bengalis’ who loved to throw their weight around and the poor fellow was completely mellowed. We paid him the dues and went off.

We walked and walked and walked, through the big and small gate of the fort walls that once stood there, down into the densely populated part of the town through winding roads, left and right, asking local guides and finally hiring a rickshaw to reach Madanmohan Temple.

A man very humbly dressed offered me ‘prasad’(anything edible that has been offered to the god), it was some variance of the ‘khichri’(rice and pulses cooked together) and it was nice. The man said he had made it himself at home.   From this temple which was deep into the heart of a maze of lanes, we tried reaching out to other temples but that seemed impossible on foot. After a good amount of trekking when we were about to give up we got a ‘toto’(a battery operated three-wheeler which does not need a license to be driven; this is restricted only to West Bengal).  

A couple of more temples could be covered thanks to the ‘toto’, but most were in a dilapidated state, being family owned who were unable to bear the cost of a proper maintenance. In some, the deity is actively worshipped and is expected to take care of the structure with its divine grace.   Back in the tourist lodge, we had a late lunch and soon after went out shopping for curios. I bought terracotta neckpieces for reselling; Rajib bought a ‘dokra’ artifact modeled on the famed canon that is called ‘Dal Madol’ which can be seen on display in a small courtyard near Chinnamasta temple. It was made around 1600 AD, was lost after the Malla dynasty declined only to be found by the British.  

Legend has it that Lord Krishna himself used the canon to ward off the enemies.   We bought a few more souvenirs for ourselves and as gifts including the famous ‘dashavatar cards’ which is handmade on cloth and depicts the 10 avatars of Vishnu. Its a Mallabhum specialty, collectible item.

The day was well spent culminating with a flavoursome dinner at the lodge and speculations about our next and final day at Bishnupur.   Time management was crucial on the last day, as we still had a few important temples to visit, travel 44kms to and fro to visit a village called Panchmura where they make the famous terracotta horses and other artifacts and catch a train back home at 3 pm.

Day 1 || Day 2 || Day 3 || Day4

Temple List::Bishnupur –

JOY to HOPE in 13yrs

By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar

There are many things in a girl’s life that she holds dear to her; dolls, frocks, earrings, shoes, watches; that’s going to be a very long list, let’s skip.  A scooter was one such for me. Daddy’s scooter was way too heavy for me to handle. As a child, I loved to ride a bicycle. The freedom of being in charge of my movements gave me a high. I had an inherent dislike for buses, cars and utmost distaste for aeroplanes. Train was and still is the storybook prince who will always remain a fantastic dream and romantic endeavour. Ships however, are aliens to me, still waiting to board one and find out my feelings for it.

It was not until 2005 that I got my own scooter; TVS Scooty Pep. The brand new shiny black ride felt nothing less than a grand stallion. I loved it. No, I adored it. It was freedom personified for me. I had driven automatic scooters earlier; but this was mine. I could go out at anytime, anywhere. Just pour in some petrol, push a button, roll your hand and accelerate!

It gave me ludicrous joy so I named it JOY.

Joy has seen the happiest days of my life. It was bought for going to college in the second year of my MBA. As Rajib moved to Bangalore I moved in with him into our little one bedroom home. It was the first time we were living together all by ourselves. His office was far away where he had to change 2 buses and my college was also not a walk away.

With Joy around, managing home and college was a tad easier.

Rajib had never driven a scooter and believed that he never could.

I was quite scared and had to be coerced to bring it on road at first. One evening soon after Joy came home, courtesy my friends, an aunty who lived at the ground floor of the two-storey house where we had taken rent was in great pain but in great need to go to a nearby store.

She approached me to give her a ride and I was scared stiff. Yet I wanted to help and possibly deep down somewhere wanted this urgency which could force me to try a hand on my cherished vehicle.

The first ride wasn’t easy, but I managed, and then there was no stopping. Soon I could ride with Rajib to far-away places amidst traffic and my happiness knew no bounds.

Joy has carried me to college, to the office, to ad hoc jobs, to markets and for joyrides. It was only when I was carrying the little life within me; the rides were restricted and then suspended for a couple of months.  

After I went off to Kolkata with my lil baby, Joy had to lie idle day after day with Rajib just giving it some ignition from time to time. One day it didn’t wake up and Rajib consulted a mechanic. The mechanic fixed Joy but warned that he needs to be driven every day.

I came back to Bangalore to be greeted with a very pleasant surprise; Rajib could ride Joy and within a short time he could drive with me.

After giving me joy, Joy succeeded in delighting a one-and-a-half-year-old Raspy. He loved the breeze, as he rode on, sandwiched between Rajib and me, and embraced it with an open mouth. These rides were never long for safety’s sake.

When it was time for Raspy to go to school we brought in Wago, our first car, a golden WagonR. Joy was now more of Rajib’s companion to office and back but weekends Joy kept for me.

As Raspy grew older and Rajib’s office got further away we switched vehicles. Joy started carrying Raspy and me to school (which was just a km from home now), library, small get-togethers and to acquire essentials.

Joy was brought home to JP Nagar, a year later we shifted to Thippasandra that was near my office then. After what seemed like ages, in 2017 May, we shifted to a new locality, Whitefield.

Joy continued its services as before, though it was in need of frequent services itself and finally as the new year crawled in, it could hardly manage a steady ride for a couple of consecutive days.

It was given a new battery on the 31st of January but that too failed within a week. All through my years with Joy I could never put it on the main stand and now Joy could not be started without being pulled on it. Raspy has grown almost as tall as me and my back isn’t as strong as it used to be. Driving remains my passion but now I need a backrest. So I no longer go for joyrides, its only on purpose.

I need a scooter as it is very useful for swift trips. I am hoping for my own shop in the near future near home and that will require fleeting rides. I am also hoping to give Raspy a hands-on-training before he goes for a formal one and gets his own vehicle to drive.

On the 10th of Feb, I took out Joy for the last time with more anxiety than joy due to the trepidation that it might stop on-road and never start again. 12th Feb 2018 the Yamaha Ray ZR rode into our lives with new hopes and I christened it HOPE. Joy went off as majestically as it had come in, never stopping in our vicinity as our gaze followed it until the gate where the road takes a bend and a silent tear fell.

13 years of togetherness through thick and thin from house to house it had become one of us and now it was gone, on a new journey, with new people. I wish it all the best.

Making of Anoushrayan – The first year

Mémoire – the beautiful life that was once inside me

The journey till 12 || Entering teens || The 14th Year

This is a narrative of the first six months of the tiny life form out in the world from the comforting dark and warm womb. A distress and agony overpowered me when the life inside me became an individual. I felt lonely. It was traumatic to survive without the usual movements inside me that had grown over the months.

But I survived and once and for all I accepted the fact. This part of me, that is the most beautiful one, is an independent entity now, and the onus to make him truly so, lies upon me.

All things start small, so did Raspy. At 8 weeks he was hardly the size of a raspberry so we named him “Raspy”. I was at home, relaxed and happy thus my pregnancy was smooth except for the sleepless nights due to Raspy’s vehement movements. I read many a good book, one extremely enchanting was “Gem in the Lotus”.

The D-day was tensed. Raji arrived in Bangalore early morning on the 6th of Feb 2007 from Kolkata and I had to be admitted to the hospital that very night. Raspy’s position suggested that he was due to eject normally by early morning next day. But all the drips and meds could not bring raspy out on his own so the doc had to operate and push and then I heard her say – cried instantly at birth, 3kgs, boy baby.

So 7th Feb 2007, 2:44pm our lives changed. Three days later we brought the little darling to our Bangalore home. The wait that started on the 16th of Jun 2006, the day we came to know of the little soul breathing inside me and the anxiety and tension accompanied with such news for 8 months was finally over.

Mom and Raji were the only two soldiers I had to fight the battle and they both did a tremendous job rising to the occasion beyond their physical capabilities. Mom at more than 50yrs of age took care of the household and the baby and me laughing all the way and beaming with joy, Raji too was most supportive and ever caring amidst his office that was quite hectic and leaves were not to be taken at will.

Raji always made sure that he could accompany me for the check-ups. He never let me out of home alone and took pains to bring home all the grocery required as and when even after a hectic day at office. We didn’t have Bigbasket back in those days. He had trouble picking up raspy as he had never handled a baby before but soon he learned and carried the little devil in his arms as we walked to the pediatrician’s chamber.

Mom had a terrible time motivating me to feed raspy, he was fed on only mother’s milk for 4 complete months. No water too as instructed by the doctor and the internet. If ever I had to go out for more than an hour I would keep my milk in a bottle as prescribed by the doctor.

Raspy used to get hungry almost every hour even though he would drink a huge amount at a go. I felt like a Holstein-Friesian Cattle with a huge production capacity. If it wasn’t for mom I would have switched him to formula milk within a month. She used to be awake almost 24hrs, on duty all day all night.

Raspy wanted to be on board a human always, preferably maa or me, he could not make out the difference except for when he was hungry, as he was guided more by smell. The general advice was to let him be and not to give in to his undue demands but both mom and I felt that its only for a short while that we would be capable of carrying him so why not indulge in our soft toy. I can’t carry him now even if I want to at times.

Many of my friends came to say chao to Raspy and showered him with love and gifts. One set gave him a gift that is his companion till date. Rakesh gave a book which I and mom read almost line by line and found ourselves in cognition of most of it although we could not follow it entirely. I would recommend it to every new parent – The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spoke. A few of my dearies can be seen here. 

Well, the present companion is not exactly the one they gave but its sort of a clone that mom made. Simba as the soft toy is called was dragged along wherever Raspy’s little steps would take him and in 3 yrs it had been washed so many times that it turned into a course rag. The current one is called Nala. She became 5 last nov (2017).

The rented house at Bangalore had a lamp post beside the low wall of our compound and at night when all lights were out, Raspy who never slept at night for 3 months, would keep on staring at it. In the later months he developed a love for lighted places and was scared of the dark, he still is.

At about 3 and half months on the 26th of May 2007, we boarded a flight to Kolkata. The journey was smooth as raspy had no issues with flying and domstal worked well for me. Kolkata was hot and humid as ever but raspy was cool. He seemed happy with lots of fresh air and faces around. Mom too seemed at ease with helping hands that were lacking in Bangalore. I missed Raji and felt sad for him as he missed both me and Raspy.

Raji soon came to Kolkata for a week in June and again for two weeks in July. It would be long before he could drop in again so we celebrated raspy’s mukhebhaat (starting of solid food) on 23rd Jul 2007.

According to rituals my brother should feed the first solid food but since I have none of my own and lots of cousins on the contrary, dad did the honours.

From the 4th month onwards Raspy was given formula milk twice and mother’s milk 5-6 times. He was then switched to solids after his mukhebhaat and was mostly fed on formula milk, wheat cereal, rice, dal, potato, banana, apple and biscuit. This was accompanied by vitamin and iron drops. Raspy disliked the drops and would scream with the utmost opposition and turn purple in rage. He loved to eat and in bulk. We fed him according to schedule and also as he demanded. Mother’s milk continued till he was a year old but it slowly came down to twice a day. Interestingly the lesser I fed him the production also reduced.

In the August of 2007, Raspy was no more a newborn. At 6 months, he could smile or make a face according to his wish, recognize and hold his bowl, spoon, tumbler and bottles. He could grip objects firmly and place them into his mouth, though he did it without any discretion, the object could be a garment, a leaf, one’s face or even an ant.

He could attain and sustain a crawling position for a few seconds and jump like a frog on all four, he could not crawl. He could bring himself to a 120° obtuse angle position that’s nearly a sitting posture.

Raspy was born with lots of hair on the skull and his entire body. It took some time for his complexion to stabilize, initially, he was pretty fair then darkened a bit again turned fairer, then he got my complexion which is fair enough for a boy at least to my liking. His physique was slender and well proportioned, with strong arms and legs. Most of the hair on his body has disappeared and he looked rather handsome with that heart-warming smile.

Characteristically Raspy was full of fun and vigour. He used to cycle his legs and throw his arms since birth and once he could roll, one moment he was at my side and next somewhere else. It was difficult to leave him on his own for even a few minutes and I used to tie him up if such a situation would arise.

He laughed aloud and screamed at high decibels when happy and excited which he was most of the time. He expressed annoyance at the top of his voice too.

He was not attached to a particular toy or thing and got bored soon but seemed to have a good memory as he showed recognition and pleasure when an old toy was presented to him after a while. He didn’t seem attached to a particular person too though he showed excitement and happiness when he acquainted a known face after a long or short interval.

Raspy liked company and didn’t mind a lot of them till he was personally disturbed. When in trouble of being mobbed or irritated otherwise he would enact as though hungry or sleepy so that we can rescue him and if there was no way out he just fell asleep. This particular act of falling asleep in adverse situation he had been doing ever since he was 3 and half months. He loved to play on his own for a considerable amount of time.

Raspy loved to stay immersed in a tub. Mom had been bathing him ever since he was three days old and never wanted to come out of his little tub filled with lukewarm water. He liked the water that way not cold even when the climate was hot, a liking he holds on to, to this day. He liked his food hot too whether liquid fluid or solid.

He will be 11 yrs old tomorrow, and I’ll slowly fill you in with details and events and the extraordinary moments that have gone by in the subsequent blogs. This is for those who love Anoushrayan and want to know about him. Cheers.

Join me as I reminisce Anoushrayan’s growing up years – next up – the journey till 12…

The journey till 12 || Entering teens || The 14th Year