February 6, 2016

Ras Mancha - The Pride of Bishnupur

Site Name: Ras Mancha
Site Type: Hindu temple, Monument
Location:  Bishnupur, West Bengal state, India
Highlights: A unique architecture style which is not found in any other part of India 
Nearest Railway Station: Bishnupur
Nearest Airport: Kolkata 
How to reach: Easily reachable from Kolkata, which is around 160 kms away
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Kolkata; Bishnupur too has many decent options for stay
Restaurants: Limited mid-range options in Bishnupur

Bishnupur is a town located in Bankura district in West Bengal state of India. It is located at a distance of around 160 kms from Kolkata, the capital city of Bengal. It is famous for the 17th and 18th century Terracotta temples and balucheri sarees. Let us explore a very beautiful and very unique monument called Ras Mancha in Bishnupur in this article.

History:

The area around Bishnupur was called as Mallabhum region in the olden days. The region, which can also be called as Bishnupur Kingdom was ruled by Malla dynasty for many centuries. The Muslim or Mughal invasion did not affect this region much. Adi Malla was the founder of the dynasty. 

Bishnupur rose into prominence during the reign of the King Bir Hambir. He introduce the worship of Madan Mohan (Lord Krishna). During his period as well as during the period of another King named Bir Singha, many beautiful brick temples were built. 

Stone was in short supply in Bengal. Probably, this lead to an alternative in the name of elaborately decorated terracotta temples. The Malla Kings built many such terracotta temples in the 17th and 18th century CE in Bishnupur. 

Ras Mancha was built by the Malla King Bir Hambir in 1600 CE.


Pavilion Architecture and Layout:

Ras Mancha is technically not a temple. It is the place where the deities from all the temples of Bishnupur would be gathered for public darshan every year during the Ras festival. Hence, there is no deity in this pavilion. The festival was last celebrated in 1932 CE; afterwards, it was declared as a protected monument.

Ras Mancha is unique in terms of design and layout. Similar buildings are not found else where in Bengal or in the entire country. Hence, this striking architecture marvel is called as 'The Pride of Bishnupur'.

Ras Mancha is square on plan and it stands on a raised laterite stone platform. The pavilion is crowned with a stepped pyramidal super-structure, which is surrounded by many smaller sloped roofed structures. The sanctum is enclosed by three successive circumambulatories, which have arched openings at regular intervals separated by big pillars. Apart from few bas relief images of dancers and singers and few lotus motifs, the exterior is plain.

Overall, the structure looks gigantic and outstanding.

The sad part is that people outside West Bengal hardly know about this unique master piece.

Happy travelling.








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