Ratneswar Temple, Bhattabati (রত্নেশ্বর মন্দির, ভট্টবাটি)

Bhattabati is under Nabagram Police Station, and about 5 kilometers from the Lalbagh Sadar Ghat. According to legend, during the reign of Alauddin Husain Shah (1494-1519 AD), the independent Sultan of Bengal, around 1200 Bhatta Brahmin families from Karnat of Southern India came to settle down at this place. Hence the place got its name as Bhattabati (Residences of the Bhattas) or Bhattamati (Land of the Bhattas). The Ratneswar Temple is said to have been built during the early 18th century when the second Qanungo of Bengal Joy Narayan (জয় নারায়ন), used to live here at Bhattabati, while the first Qanungo Darpa Narayan (দর্প নারায়ন) stayed at Dahapara. It is not known who built this temple and precisely when. This Pancha-Ratna [1] (Five Pinnacle) Shiva Temple with exquisite Terracotta Arts, is possibly the most beautiful temple in this district and can easily stand favourable comparison with any terracotta temple in West Bengal.

The temple faces south and measures 8.75 square meters at the base. The temple plinth itself is 4.87 x 4.90 m. While the height is approximately 10 meters. The first arch over the doorway is 2.85 meters. From the plinth; the second arch over - hanging this is at a height of 4.37 meters. While the third arch is at a height of 5.80 meters. The rectangular space between the first arch and the second is heavily ornamented all round the borders and filled in with a variety of scenes. On the lower right portion shows a dancing girl, with a female "Tabalchi" behind her, singing and dancing before a nobleman. Below and behind him are tiny proportional figurines of a troupe of musicians playing a variety of instruments. On the left, the lowest panel shows noblemen reclining, recumbent on luxurious divans. Above them a king and queen are seated in court surrounded by courtiers. To the right a wedding is taking place and even the auspicious mango leaves overhanging the couple are individually distinct. At the centre is a nobleman or prince seated on a throne with a lady and they are shown as if engaged in conversation. The entire facade is split into two by beautifully carved series of "mangal-ghats" set vertically above one another. The second arch is an overhanginging cornice cupported on nine twin tigers standing on their hind feet. The smaller arch above supports a series of 24 tiny panels depicting the Dasavatara flanked by ganas Narada, Kali.. etc. The arches up to the second tier are flanked on either side by a series of vertical panels, 14 in number. Those on the right show incidents from the Krishna myth while on the left are scenes from the Ramayana.

On the western facade there is a remarkable terracotta panel of the complete Mahisasura Mardini manifestation with Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kartick and Ganesh. On the top of this is a rectangular space on to which has been set a contemporary scene of hunting. Two barefooted bunters with turbans are shown carrying hawks in cages with hunting dog, shield, bow, muskets, water bottle and knives. Turning to the northern face one is immediately struck by the massive sculpture of the Vamananatara. The sculpture is damaged severely, and one can see the legs of the bowed Bali. But the three steps taken by Vamana are clear. This magnificient piece is surmounted by a superb representation of the Rasa-lila which too is damaged. On the top appears two Vaishnav gurus with their disciples. On the centre of the Eastern facade there is a figure on a throne, wearing a turban of the 18th century. This facade is damaged. On the top of this we find on the left Gour-Nitai, and on the right Radha-Krishna.

The major difference between Rani Bhavani's temples and Ratneswar is that the front central facade over the doorway is not covered with a representation of the Rama-Ravana battle, or with any scene from the Chandi.

Myth of Vamana Avatar

In Vamana Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a dwarf priest in this world. Bali, the grandson of Prahlada, the son of Hiranyakshipu, was one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu. Unlike many of the other demons, Bali was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, and a just and kind ruler. He was righteous and truthful, and ruled his kingdom so well that there was peace, prosperity and happiness all around. By his penance and might, he conquered the three worlds and usurped the throne of Indra, the King of the Gods. Indra and other gods fearing that he and demons would conquer all the three worlds, went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu was then born as a dwarf Vamana in the household of a brahmana (Aditi and Kashyapa). He went to Bali on growing up and asked for alms. Bali was delighted to offer him anything he requested even though his priest warned him that it was Lord Vishnu. Vamana then requested for the amount of land that could come under his three feet. Bali gracefully agreed. Lord Vishnu then grew in size and covered the earth and heaven in two stride. And due to lack of space, he put his third leg on Bali himself and crushed Bali to the nether or the Patala loka (underground world), thus helping the Gods out.

Bhattabati Gallery

References :
  • [1] Pancha-Ratna : is a five-towered temple architecture. The superstructure consists of a large central tower and four smaller towers at the corners. In this layout construction of the turrets are like small temples. Back

Page Updated : May 18, 2012 01:58 pm