Location: 10 kms north of Cooch Behar town
Cooch Behar, West Bengal
For others it’s a small sleepy town in North Bengal and not so cognizant for everyone; but someone like me can definitely favor the inherent importance of Cooch Behar. An intrinsic small town that has given me the most precious part of my life- my childhood; and perhaps that makes the salubrious fact that “yes, Cooch Behar has got some significance”.
Taking more steps ahead I am talking about the most respected and most ancient part of this town, the Baneshwar Temple.
Located at a distance of 10 km from north of Cooch Behar this Shiva Temple resides besides the Cooch Behar- Alipurduar highway. Dating back to 1100 B.C., this temple boasts a Shiva Lingam, 10 feet below the plinth level. By the side of the main temple an another temple of Ardhanarinateshwarcan be found that has been named as ‘movable Baneshwar’, as on the occasion of Madan Chaturdashi and Dol Purnima the idol is being carried away to the Krishna Temple (Madan Mohan Bari) of the main town Cooch Behar.
The most interesting part of Baneshwar Temple is that it is the only temple in India where animal sacrifice is the century old common tradition and non-vegetarian Prasad is being offered to God. Definitely Bengal is the greatest carriage of all traditions and cultures where this Shiva Temple has an interesting past with great history and mythology.
History says; Lord Krishna’s grandson Anirudha married Usha, the daughter of Asur Raj Banasur without his consent. Out of rage Banasur chained Anirudha in his palace. This resulted in a war between Lord Krishna and Banasur and Lord Shiva became a pacifier between them since Banasur was the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva. The place where the marriage of Usha and Anirudha was conducted with Banasur’s consent was then turned into a temple which was named after him.
The architecture of this temple is another beguiler which is different from the traditional architecture of Bengal. The outer structure is square in shape with a small round shaped tower. It has only one gate called the “Garbhagriha”, where the Shiva Lingam rests.
Arriving at this temple will definitely draw your attention towards a big pond within the area where the encounter of large number of turtles is really impressive. The moment you arrive and simply call “Mohan” you can find a large gathering of many turtles down your feet as if they are arriving out of affection and to receive love from you.
This scene simply impresses anyone and these old and big tortoises are fed with puffed rice. It is very true to admit that people throng here to have the manacled encounter with these tortoises only.
The Baneshwar Temple can really bring nostalgic feelings to anyone who has ever been to this impressive place. No decoration, no arrangements but still the place holds too much of attractions….the reason being the affection towards our heritage, history and towards those old creatures “Mohan” that proceeds together for love and affection.