Bengal is not about sightseeing and ticking boxes. It is about telling stories, discovering culture that originated maybe a century or three previously. This state is all about pushing the visitor’s comfort zone. It is about experiencing links from the past joined to the present so that when they go home, they will rave and think with nostalgia about the moments spent discovering Bengal. This post is based on my day trip from Kolkata to Aatpur and speaks about exploring history at Aatpur, Bengal.
This state has given me a story every time I travelled to see parts of her. There are stories which I remember fondly, while then there are the tales which beg the listener to go there and experience it oneself. There have been personal moments where the region has become an integral part of that moment.
In case reading blogs is tedious at your end , would you like to check out the story posts out here.
As a part of my ongoing initiative of exploring the history of Bengal, I drove down to Aatpur. Now considering the way to go about this, I resort to undertaking numerous day trip from Kolkata. These day trips help me to explore a wide variety of places. Aatpur is a beautiful village located in Serampore division of Hooghly district. Situated about 54 km from Kolkata, it is so named based on a combination of 8 villages during the Bhuri Shrestha Kingdom. However, a later version says that it was so named after the local landlord called Atar Khan.
So in this context i would recommend you to browse my journey to day trips/ weekend destinations to Baranti, Purbasthali , Bishnupur and Gongoni. There is so much to see in this state much similar to like the Northern Karnataka architectural circuit of Hampi and Badami.
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So why did I decide to visit Aatpur
There were two primary reasons for me deciding to visit this idyllic village nestled amidst pleasant trees and green fields. One was on 24 Dec 1886, the first Nine disciples of Sri Ramakrishna took an oath of renouncing the world and living monk’s lives. Among these nine disciples was Swami Vivekananda too. The second reason was to see the Terracotta temples which are spread in the vicinity of the village. Exploring history at Aatpur was indeed worthwhile for it gave me the opportunity to increase my sense of appreciation of the richness of Bengal History.
Shri Aurobindo once wrote, “In the district of Hooghly which is within Bengal the heart of India, the heartbeat is heard.” These words have indeed influenced me to explore the heart of Bengal where even today, the allure to the past is so prominent. The tradition of religious practices is still followed. So accordingly one fine day I set out exploring history at Aatpur.
How to reach Aatpur
Aatpur is well connected by road and buses are available from Esplanade and Howrah. But for a comfortable journey, it is recommended to take the morning Tarkeshwar Local train which will drop one at Haripal. From Haripal, one can hire the local auto rickshaw. Alternately taking a taxi or self-drive is the next best option indeed.
Exploring history at Aatpur
Exploring history at Aatpur starts here. This temple, built in the 18th century depicts stories and tales from the legendary Puranas based on the life of the Gods. The tales are narrated by way of exquisite carvings on the terracotta panels. Having a height of 70 feet. The temple was constructed by the Diwan of Bardhaman. The towering aat-Chala has a triple-arched entrance, and the one can see fine terracotta carvings. The Hindu mythology in terms of Rashlila, Ram-Ravana, Krishnalila, Goddess Kali & Maa Durga is engraved on the panels of Terracotta.
- Rajagobinda Temple
We also have an intact octagonal Ras Mancha and Dol Mancha. These were built even before the Radhagobinda Temple. These are very interesting indeed for they played an important role in the social events of the village.
There are a total of 5 Shiva temples which can be seen. These are in various stages of disrepair owing to inadequate maintenance. This is a fact which needs correction. These Shiva temples are named as Kashinath Shiva, Jaleswar, Phuleswar, Aatchala Shiv Mandir. A bit to the right of the Radhagobinda Temple, we have the Chandi Mandap. This was built by Krishnaram Mitra. Made of wood, it has intricate carvings, but sadly, I could not see it from up close as entry was restricted due to the ongoing pandemic situation.
- Shiva Temples
RK Mission Math
One of the most important places in the exploring history at Aatpur. Revered by many is the Rama Krishna Mission at Aatpur. The old math grounds also house the rooms used by Swami Vivekananda and Holy Mother, Maa Sharada. Locally known as Mayer Bari, this house belonged to the Ghosh family of this village.
The temple of Goddess Rajballavi is almost 750 yrs. old and also known as White Kali. The idol is larger than average human size and depicts the fierce form of Kali, totally fair complexioned. The idol is indeed very eye-catching. I feel my visit to the Rajballavi Temple was fortunate, for I got to see such a unique version of Devi, Maa Kali.
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Exploring history at Aatpur is a a great activity to undertaken as can be termed as a day trip from Kolkata. The sights & sounds of rural Bengal is pretty much evident out here. The historical significance of the place casts its mark on the occupants and their lives are moulded by this. This helps in the visitor to immerse into the historical impact of a pace such as Aatpur. Do try to make a visit to this place if you are staying in and around Bengal for it is worth it definitely.
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