We planned this trip all of a sudden. It is better to say that we hadn’t planned it at all. Someone told us about this place called Rajhat in Bandel. And we dived right into it.
Yesteryear on a February morning we took a Bandel Local and headed to Bandel Station. From the station you can hire either an autorikshaw or a toto for the day. The fare depends on the number of passengers. We booked ourselves an autorikshaw for ₹200, we were four.
Bandel has precarious roads. From urban potholes to rural curves, we had it all. As we entered Rajhat village, the scenery, however, became enjoyable. It was impressive how the laterite roads were lined with deciduous trees. After a bumpy ride throughout, we reached our destination.
Three kilometers from Bandel station, Lahiri Baba Mandir is an emerging tourist spot. It is located at Moshai Para in Rajhat village. It has become popular in no time. This temple complex, with several marmoreal temples, is spectacular both in its structure and decor.
Before we could enter the temple complex, we had to keep our shoes in custody of a lady sitting outside the main gate for ₹2 every pair. We also had to wash our feet right before we entered the main temple. That may remind you of the system in Gurdwaras.
The central temple holds three parts. On one side, there are idols of Tridev—Bramha, Vishnu and Maheswara. On the other side, Lakshmi and Saraswati. In the main part there are stairs to an underground chamber— dimly lit, quiet, cold, and damp. This is the “Garbhagriha”. There’s a “Shiv Linga” inside. The walls of this chamber is adorned with different paintings depicting “Naditantra” and “Birth-Death-Rebirth Cycles”. The feeling of this place is somewhat profound and peaceful. Photography is, however, prohibited inside the main temple.
The temples are surrounded by a vast majority of gardens. It was almost like a nature park. Varieties of roses and other seasonal flowers were enticing to look at. There were a number of fountains around every corner. Just beside the entrance, there’s a Shiva temple styled like a cave decorated with an artificial waterfall overhead. It has a staircase designed like a bamboo culvert.
Outside the compound wall of the complex, there was a concourse of huge trees and a bamboo forest. Variety of stalls were gathered round the boundary of the complex. It was more like a village fair. There were stalls with fried snacks we call “Televaja”, tea and coffee, chickpea curry which we call “Ghugni”, toys, earthen pots and showpieces… and what not. We were happy to help ourselves with hot fried eggplants-in-batter, “Beguni” to be precise, and tea. The taste was… pristine.
There’s a picnic spot called “Matrinivas” adjacent to the temple amongst mango trees. The main attraction here are the peacocks in an enclosure. It also has a children’s park with usual rides. You can book a spot ( with tent ) for ₹5500.
The timing for the temple is from 10 in the morning to 12 noon and from 4 in the afternoon to 6 p.m. Colourful lighting arrangements make the temple even more radiant after 5 in the evening. You have to abide by certain regulations here. It includes covering your heads with clothes that come in handy for ₹5 each. No one can enter the temple premise with “Aalta” on their feet.
We had fun roaming around. But our return trip was not so pleasant. Because, even after repeated phone calls, the auto-driver kept us waiting for long. At last, he told us to walk down the road and meet him outside the neighbourhood. We had elderly people with us. It was a difficult situation for them. Nevertheless, the place was nice. I will recommend it for a tiny weekend tour.