An hour-and-a-half from Kolkata by train is Joynagar, where Bengal’s ancient glory can be experienced first-hand. Once a rich settlement on the banks of the Ganga, Joynagar lost its glory when the river changed its course. However, this town has remained an important site of the Vaishnav cult because Chaitanyadev had stopped there on his way to Puri 500 years ago.

The first points of at traction in Joynagar are the Dwadash Shiva temples of Mitrabari. This set of 12 temples was built one at a time over generations; one of them is built in the navaratna style and the others are aatchala temples. They used to be covered with terracotta decorations but most of these have been washed away; only a few figures remain.Next is the 110-year-old Radhaballav temple. Legend has it that in 1600 AD, Maharaja Pratapaditya of Jessore was attacked by Mughal soldiers. In order to save one of his radha-Krishna statues from their plundering, the king had it shifted to Joynagar in what was named the Radhaballav Temple. That temple was destroyed and a new one was built in its stead, complete with the ancient statue¬ – this is the temple we can visit now.

On Poila Baishak, a one-day fair is held outside this temple, where families from the 24-Parganas bring their Radha-Krishna idols. Pratapaditya’s idol is brought out of the temple and all the assembled figurines are placed around it, symbolically paying tribute to the oldest idol in the district.

The Chanchore festival is another unique event, observed on the fifth day after Holi. This is the official holiday for people in Joynagar and they play holi with the gods.

The Joynagar Basudev temple is another century-old piece of architecture. The idol inside was made in the Pali age and was salvaged from the womb of Adi Ganga.

The latest attraction of Joynagar is the modern temple of the Saatsanga organisation. This recently built temple has all the modern amenities, and grabs the tourist’s attention with its twin milky white towers. However, special permission needs to be obtained to enter this temple.

Tourist Information
Any local train from Sealdah will reach Joynagar in an hour. Cycle rickshaws are available for moving within the town. Special permission needed to go inside the Saatsanga temple. It is advisable to carry bottled water and packed lunch.

This article was published on 15th July, 2003 in The Hindustan Times

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Jainagar – the name instantly reminds us of mouthwatering moya a popular Bengali delicacy in the winter months.

The history of Jainagar however has more in store than the sweet treat.Jainagar is known for being the abode of Vaushnav cult.

Radhaballav temple of Jaingar has idols of Radha Krishna which were brought to Jahangir by Maharaja Pratapaditya of Jessore.But the temple was destroyed & a new temple was built by the Chowdhurys who belonged to the royal families of Dakshin Barasat.The statue of Radha Krishna is still there in that temple which is built in Aatchala style a typical example of the Bengal school of architecture.On poila baishakh an annual fair is arranged there.Radhaballav image is placed in the centre & all significant images of Radha Krishna from all the temples of south 24 parganas are brought in the temple.

This signifies that all the God & Goddess come together to pay respect to the oldest deity of the district.

This article was published on 25th May, 2003 in The Asian Age

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