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West Bengal : Tarapith
Tarapith, the small temple town in Birbhum district, about 294 km away from Kolkata, situated towards the eastern side of Dwarka River, is known for its temple and the adjoining cremation grounds. The earlier name of Tarapith was Chandipur. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Tara, the Hindu divine mother. Tarapith is one of the 51 Maha Pithas. Tarapith is also called as Shakti Pitha to the sect of Hindu community. The aat chala Tarapith temple, built by the Jagannath Roy of Mallarpur in 1225, decorated with the sculptures of Devi Mahishamardini (One form of the Goddess Durga) is representing the mother Tara in her fiery form with four arms and different kinds of ornaments all over her body. Chandrachur Shiva, residing in a small temple, is also an integral part of Tarapith.
The historical Asharama of Anandamayee mother, Jibitakunda and Biram temple are worth seeing along with the temple in Mundamalitala. It is believed that the mother Tara used to go for a bath in Dwarka River which is long lost there in Mundalitala. In the cremation ground, amidst dark forest surroundings, tantric practitioners have been flocking for generations for their spiritual activities. But now the environment is not that soothing because of the city congestion.
Bamakhepa, the saint, an ardent devotee of the goddess Tara had worshipped the divine mother Tara in Tarapith temple. A temple is also there with an idol of Bamakhepa in Tarapith. Atlagram (Gram means village), the birth place of Bamakhepa, organizes a fair for 7 days in remembrance of Bamakhepa. Kamalakanta, King Ramakrishna, Bishekhepa, Anandanath, Mokhadananda, Kailashpati Baba, Sankar Baba, Nangta Baba are the other saints whose names are associated with Tarapith.
Birchandrapur, known as Garbhabas, situated at a distance of 10 km towards Sainthia from Tarapith, previously known as Ekchakragram, is the birth place of Nityananda Mahaprabhu. On the way to Birchandrapur, aat chala temple built by Banka Roy, the deity worshipped by Nityananda Mahaprabhu can be seen at the right hand side of the main road. Sashtitala, biswaruptala, ISKCON, Jagannath temple are some of the notable temples of Birchandrapur.
The stone which looks like a diya kept in the premises of Madaneshwar Shiva temple, two other Shiva temples, the knee of the devil called Bak, beautiful idols of Surya and Bishnu in the area of Madaneshwar are some interesting places to see on the way to Katasur, a destination situated at a distance of 4 km from Birchandrapur towards Sainthia at the banks of the River Mayurakhi. It is said that the devil called Bak was killed by Bhima here and it is also believed that the devils used to live in Asurdanga, a place about 7 km away from Kotasur towards the north-southern side of it.
How to reach: You can always avail railway service to reach Rampurhat from Howrah or Sealdah railway station, Kolkata. Tarapith is 9 km away from Rampurhat and well connected by bus or auto from Rampurhat railway station. You can also reach Tarapith directly by bus which starts from Esplanade bus terminus, Kolkata. However, it would be sensible if you book your car for the whole journey after planning it out.
Where to stay: Mohan, sabitri, Keshari, Nataraj are the names of few hotels which are situated at the opposite side of the temple. Rate of these hotels changes very often and it varies from 150 to 1750 depending on the season and time of your trip. Dwarka lodge, hotel smriti, railways retiring room and bungalow of the irrigation department are the other options you can choose from.