Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tourist Spot - Bangladesh: Abhayanagar, Jessore

Bangladesh Tourist Spot: Abhayanagar, Jessore

The 11 temples of Abhayanagar









Location: Bhatpara, Abhayanagar, Jessore

Inside the deepest, muddiest and darkest roads of Jessore, right at the heart of Abhaynagar upazila, lies the village of Bhatpara. Therein lies a beautiful temple complex consisting of 11 temples dedicated to Lord Shiv. Although the temples are in a dilapidated state today, one can easily comprehend their grandeur, being once adorned with beautiful terracotta plaques.

Under the orders of Raja Nilkontho Rai, his dewan, Horiram Mitra, had built the 11 temples, as a dedication to Lord Shiv, between 1745 and 1764.

There is an interesting mythology connected to the construction of the 11 temples. According to the myth, the Raja did not have any children and had prayed to Shiv for a daughter. The Raja promised that if his wishes were fulfilled, he would wed his daughter to the God.

Shiv heard the Raja's calling and soon the Raja had a daughter. The daughter was named, “Abhaya” and from her came the name of the region, “Abhayanagar.” Bearing his promise in mind, the Raja wed his daughter to Shiv and the 11 temples were built as temple-house for the newly wedded couple. The story goes that Abhaya spent her days in the temple-house praying to Shiv and taking care of the structures, hoping to one day be reunited with him.

Getting there:
From Dhaka to Jessore: One can either take a train to Jessore (costing Tk. 215 per person in the Shovon Chair class) or the bus (the Hanif bus costs Tk. 450 per person). If you are travelling on a Thursday, we definitely recommend the bus as the trains are usually packed!

We took the train on a Thursday and we had people falling on our laps during the journey. Oh and the humid stench in the air made matter worse. Both journeys have an approximate travel time of 8 hours.

From Jessore to Abhayanagar: Once you are in Jessore make your way to Monirhat bus station. You can take a rickshaw costing Tk. 15 per person. From Monirhat take a local bus heading towards Noapara and ask to be dropped off at Abhayanagar. The fare should be Tk. 30 per person.

From Abhayanagar to Bhatpara: From Abhayanagar we recommend you get on an auto heading towards Bhatpara. The fare is around Tk. 20 per person and you should tell the pilot to be dropped off by the river ghat. Cross the ghat via a boat (fare is Tk. 5 per person) and once on the other side, book a nosimon (the motorised vans) and tell them you want to go to the 11 Abhayanagar temples. We recommend you keep the transport because once you are deeper inside the village, getting a transport back can get tricky. Around 150 bucks for 2 hours should be a decent fare for the nosimon pilot.

Best time to visit: Avoid the rainy season. The road to the temple is mud laid and it can get very difficult to get there when it rains.

What to expect: Expect a hell lot of bats. The temples, left unattended, have become the home for hundreds of bats. The floors are filled with guano and beware, the closer you get to the temples, the higher the probability for you to be pee-ed on! Talk about bat-caves.

In your backpack: Water bottle, dry food, sanitiser, umbrella, glucose/saline and torchlight.

Nearby places to stay: The nearest decent place to stay is Hotel Hasan International in Jessore. Not your 3 star deluxe but you can get a double AC room here along with a commode toilet (not a pan is great news for many) for Tk. 600-800 a night.

Money matters: For a one day trip if you don't plan on staying the night, Tk. 1,500 should get you through the trip.

For photographers: Some terracotta plaques still remain so you want to take along your telephoto and macro lens along!

Adventure rating: The ideal scouting experience. 3.5 out of 5.0.

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