I have grown in Kolkata but hardly experienced much beyond the city. Recently, I made a quick trip to Kalna after drawing inspiration from a favourite poem penned by Rabindra Nath Tagore. After a little bit of research, I included Guptipara (Gupt-hidden; para-area) as well. It is widely believed that the first “Barowari” or community Durga Puja was held in Guptipara after which it spread out to the whole of Bengal and elsewhere. We had quick lunch at Hotel Priyadarshini near bus stand after our tour around Kalna. It was hard to find a direct auto or bus to Guptipara temples so we took an auto that dropped us to Guptipara Station and then took another one which dropped us close to the temple. We walked through lanes and by lanes to reach the complex which housed the terracotta temples. The beautiful complex was deserted, does not get too many visitors since most people do not know about their existence.
The 4 beautiful Vaishnava temples in the complex constructed on elevated platforms between 17th and 18th century have surely seen better days. At first glance, I could not take off my eyes from the beautiful terracotta ekratna (single spire) Ramchandra Temple in front of me. It was not just a piece of art and sculpture but poetry that moves you from within. The pillars and the external facade is intricately carved. The different forms of Mahishasur Mardini and the carved Kalasha atop just left me spell bound. The intricacy on the pillars, which had local lores carved all over is sadly wearing out.There is history on the wall, on the pillars on every brick. Will it be erased with time? I wondered
On the other side is the majestic ek chala style Brindaban Chandra Temple which seems to have got a coat of white paint. This temple does not have elaborate terracotta carvings but is the largest in the complex.
Krishnachandra Temple is similar to Brindaban Chandra, not too much external carvings, sloping roof and colored fresco.
The Chaitanya Deb Temple which was the earliest constructed temple in the complex is sadly in ruins. It was a Jor Bangla Style architecture ( two thatched huts) which supposedly had beautiful carvings.
Other Attractions in Guptipara
Guptipara is famous for its sweets. The Gupo Sandesh is supposedly the first branded sweet. Walk into any sweet shop and take a bite into any sandesh even if you do not find the Gupo Sandesh. The famous sweet maker Bhola Moira who was a renowned folk singer hailed from Guptipara. His songs on contemporary Bengali culture were appreciated widely.
Rathjatra and related Bhandarloot in the month of July are famous local festivals attended by locals and tourists.
There are local trains available from Sealdah and Howrah station that terminate at Katwa. The trains are available around 8-9am in the morning. After a 2 hour ride, get off at Kalna and go around town to visit the important sights. Post lunch, take an auto to Guptipara. Take the return train from Guptipara to Sealdah/ Howrah which are timed between 4.30 pm and 5.30pm