Apart from the famous Terracotta temples and its various art forms, there are few other interesting things that we saw in Bishnupur Town.
Things to do in Bishnupur
The Dalmadal canon is a canon that is preserved near Chinnamasta and is supposed to have protected Bishnupur Town from the attacks of Marathas. It is a usual canon that may not carry too much value for the visitor but I guess it carries a lot of emotional value for the people of Bishnupur as they owe their survival to this.
Fauzdar’s Ganjifa cards at Bishnupur Town
Ganjifa cards are the forefathers of the 52 card playing cards that are universally played today. It is said that Babar brought them to India from Central Asia when the game used to have more than 96 cards. From the time of Akbar, the cards were restricted to 96. These 96 cards consisted of 8 sets of 12 cards each. Most of these cards were handmade with various themes hand painted on them. The artist chose his or her own themes. Today, Bishnupur’s Fauzdar family is the only family that still makes these Ganjifa cards. They make it on cloth that is layered and hardened so much that it is difficult to believe that it is cloth. The cards are then hand painted with vegetable colors.
Dasavatar – Avatars of Lord Vishnu
The theme that this family paint is Dasavatar i.e ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. They also used to do Nakshband cards, which they do only on order now. The cards are pretty expensive. But then the family said that they only sell a few sets every year. Living in a small workshop cum shop cum home, the family was hospitable. And very open to sharing information about the art form that they are keeping alive. I plan to do a little more research on this and write a separate post on this old card game sometime.
Bishnupur Town has a small Museum housed in an old house on two floors. It has a display of local artwork and the artifacts found from the excavations in the region. The most curious display is a Panchmukhi Ganapati, with four heads in four directions and one head on top of these four heads. It has a small gallery dedicated to the Musical Gharana of the city depicting the various prestigious events and personalities of the city and their association with the music. There is a display of all the musical instruments as well.
Gateway to Fort
There are no remains of the fort of Bishnupur that you can see, but there is a beautiful gateway that still survives. There are numerous lakes in Bishnupur. It almost looks like a town settled between various lakes and ponds. Most ponds by the road had lotus growing them in various colors but white being the most prominent of them.
The Lal-Bandh is a lake on one edge of the town. And you would see its mention in every description of Bishnupur. When we reached there, we really did not find anything to see there. It was a regular water body. But then we got to hear the story that gives the lake its name.
One of the kings Raghunath Singh II of Bishnupur had an affair with a dancing girl called Lal Bai and had a child with her. The queen was upset with this and wanted to take revenge. There are two versions of the story after this. One says that the queen killed the king and committed Sati on his funeral pyre. But before doing that she drowned Lal Bai in this lake. Hence the queen is also known as the Pati Ghatini Sati. The other version that we heard from our taxi driver was that the queen created a situation where the king had to put Lal Bai and her child in a boat with a hole and leave in this lake and they died in this lake. Hence the lake came to be known as Lal-Bandh.
Cycle rickshaws in Bishnupur Town have a very interesting umbrella like Rickshaw Bells, which the rickshaw driver bangs in with a metal stick to the ring. Sanskriti Yatra is a train converted into a mobile museum, showcasing the life and works of Rabindra Nath Tagore to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary. We saw it parked at Bishnupur railway station but could not go inside and see.
If you think I have fallen in love with quaint Bishnupur town, you are not wrong.
Read more about places to visit in Bishnupur.