Our car ride became already quite enjoyable after we had left the bustling urban roads behind. But as we took the road towards Rajbalhat, an overwhelming sense of freedom was taking over us gradually. We were pacing through the vast mustered fields on both sides of the road. It was amazing watching golden flowers waving underneath the clear turquoise sky.
Six kilometers away from iconic Antpur, Rajbalhat is no less legendary. It is a town under Jangipara block of Hooghly district. You can board a Tarakeshwar Local from Howrah Station. Get down at Haripal Station. Then take a bus or trekker ride from there to Rajbalhat.
History of the place dates back to the 16th century. This was the bountiful Bhursut Kingdom once. The 500 years old Rajballabhi temple complex was built by Raja Rudranarayan. Apart from the main temple, there are a number of Shiva temples around. Unfortunately, due to several restorations and renovations, the temples could not retain their archaic style.
Rajbalhat is also famous as the birthplace of poet Shri Hemchandra Bandyopadhyay. The spot in Gultia village is in ruins now. There is a marble bust of the poet at that place. Although engulfed in wild-growing trees and moss, it still reminds people of his times.
Meanwhile, we were busy searching for the famous baseball-sized Rosogollas of Rajbalhat. We heard all kind of stories about them and were eager to reward our taste buds. But we were disappointed in that case.
Rajbalhat was named after Goddess Rajballabhi. The idol of Goddess Rajballabhi is undoubtedly unusual. Although it is an idol of Hindu deity Kaali, the major difference is that it is pearl white in colour. Unlike typical Kaali idol, it rests its left leg over Birupakkha and right leg over Mahakaal. They are the two incarnations of Mahadeva. She holds a silver dagger in her right hand, and a vermilion case in her left hand. Devotees from near and far come and offer puja to Devi Rajballabhi. There is a private Ghat where people take bath before offering puja or sacrifice. Sacrificial ritual or ‘Boli’ is a common practice here.
We parked our car near the entrance of the temple complex. The gateway is adorned with two lion effigies on the top. There are a number of stalls selling puja thalis. They all center around a huge Shirish tree outside the complex.
The place was overly crowded. But strangely, everything was peaceful. After offering puja, we prepared ourselves for Dwarhatta, our next stop. We passed by a number of weavers’ workshops this time. They are scattered all over Rajbalhat. Around Rajbalhat, handloom Sarees were all the rage during olden times. Perhaps they are, even today. The faint sounds of the handloom shuttles accompanied us till the end of the road.