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West Bengal : Nalhati
Nalhati, a small town in Birbhum District, about 221 km from Kolkata, is named after the Nalateshwari temple. According to the mythologies, the temple is situated where the "nala" i.e. the throat of the Goddess Shakti had fallen. This is one of the 51 Shakti peethas of Hindu Community in India.
Nalhati is being promoted as a tourist spot of West Bengal by State Government lately. The char chala Nalateshwari temple is the prime attraction of Nalhati. The Deity is residing in a rock with her eyes, nose, mouth all made by silver. If you can reach Nalhati early in the morning you can see the “nala” of the Deity, because at that time everyday the Deity goes for a bath according to the ritual of the temple. Kamdeb in the year 252 (According to the Bengali calendar) first invented the “Nala” of the Goddess. Arguably, the temple of Nalhati was built by Bhabani, the queen of Nator. Another opinion says that the temple was built by the business men who went there for their business purpose, as the business man Ramsharan Sharma was ordered to build the temple in his dream. There was a hot spring situated near to the temple earlier. You can also see the God Jogeshwar, the consort of the Deity of Nalhatrshwari temple.
Mazar sherif atop the small hill is a must see of this town. Many interesting sights on the hill are no longer visible for growing urbanization but you can still take a look at the battle field situated at the banks of Udayanala where the war took place in between the king Mirkashim, the last independent king of the Bengal and British soldiers. You can also see the Rajmahal hill range at the southern side of the Mazar Sherif.
It is believed that the neem tree situated in between the temple and Mazar sherif was an attraction. The leaves at the side of temple were bitter in taste but the leaves at the other side of the tree were not bitter. Excavation in 1964 at the southern side of the hill confirms that a lot of ancient weapons were there under the ground. These excavated items are maintained in the museum of Kolkata.
Bhadrapur, the birth place of Nanda Kumar (1700), should be seen if you are an enthusiast traveler. You have to get down at the junction of Nagra if you take a bus which is going towards Baharampur or Bhadrapur from Nalhati. The Akali temple at the right hand side of the bus stand is the chief attraction of Bhadrapur. The temple built by Nanda Kumar is almost destroyed now with time. The design and diversity of the octagonal Kali idol which was found by Nanda Kumar, is really eye catching. The palace of Nanda Kumar, who was hanged by Waren Hestings as he protested against the ruling of Hestings is in ruins. Nanda Kumar could not even get the opportunity to complete the construction of the temple.
You can walk down to the Resham Kuthi of British situated at the banks of the River Brahmani to get to see an example of British architectural excellence.
Baragram, at a distance of 7 km from Bhadrapur, is a tourist attraction for the temples of Paul and Sen Era. Tourists who are temple lovers can also visit Chandramayee hill, situated at a distance of 12 km towards Bhabanandapur from Nalhati, to see the rock-idol of Chandramayee Devi. If you wish then you can also go to see the Nath hill which belongs to Nath community, situated at the northern side of Chandramayee hill.
How to reach: You can avail a train from Howrah railway station, Kolkata to go directly to Nalhti railway station and it takes approximately 7 hours to reach Nalhati. Nalateshwari temple is 2 km away from railway station. The bus number 1R from railway station will take you to your destination. Buses also go to Nalhati from Kolkata via Bolpur.
Where to stay: The guest house of Nalateshwari temple along with Indrapuri hotel and a bungalow near to the railway station are the available options for you if you want to stay there for a night.