Standing in solitude over vast acres of land, the Rakhal Raja temple in Gurdaspur village of eastern Burdwan district of West Bengal is an ancient temple dating back to the 16 century.
Rakhal Raja is the other name of Lord Krishna.
Our visit in Jan 2021: Description of the journey
In the scary days of Corona, perhaps everyone feels imprisoned between the house’s four walls. But, call it a silver lining or a sheer providence, in January here in Bengal, Corona was at its low ebb (albeit temporary), bringing a smile to the face of a travel lover like me. So we ( i.e., my wife Sukla, son Saikat, mother in law and me) made up our mind for a short drive to Rakhal Raja temple, more so, for a much-needed change from moroseness’ of Corona to the joy of nature.
It was pretty sunny when we set out for Rakhal Raja temple in our car from Chandannagar along the national highway. A cool breeze, lush greeneries, and rows of trees alongside the roads of rural Bengal greeted us as we were advancing into the Rakhal Raja temple. The place is quiet and calm.
About Rakhal Raja temple
The Rakhal Raja temple is a little far away from the main road and inhabitance. The tranquility and nature’s brilliance here stirred our souls as we entered the temple premises. The ancient Banyan trees dotted the temple’s premises. The main temple has the deity of Rakhal Raja ‘Lord Krishna.’ A beautiful pond and a vast green paddy field adjacent to the temple adorn the beauty of the place.
The Rakhal Raja temple opens around 9-30 in the morning. The morning rituals start at 930. The visitors enjoy bhog Prasad in the huge kitchen hall. For this, one has to buy a coupon for Rs 40. The bhog is served traditionally to all devotees in verse leaf.
After offering Bhog to the deity of Rakhal Raja (Lord Krishna), the temple’s main door closes. The temple again opens at 4 PM, and after evening prayer, the temple is closed off to visitors for the day, and all lights are put off. Darkness falls on the whole premises. No one is allowed to stay over here after the evening prayer.
Myths and Mystery: An informal talk with a veteran priest
I came across a veteran priest of temple Bhaskar Chatterjee. Aging has blurred his speech and voice. He looked frail. You have to strain your ear to listen to him. But he has an authoritative face, having faith in the myth of Rakhal Raja (Lord Krishna). The octogenarian priest narrated delightful tales of the Hindu’s most loved God, Lord Krishna. “The myth goes on that in dark hours of the night, Rakhal Raja comes here with a herd of white cattle/cow for grazing,” said the priest.
He further said one Ram Kanu Goswami of Khatun village of Katwa had left his home after having a property dispute with his brother and started living in a hut in the nearby jungle. He was a devotee of Rakhal Raja. Once in a dream, Rakhal Raja expressed his desire to have a temple on the present site.
The Lord also said a piece of wooden plank would float in the pond after a few days. The dreams turned true. The artists of Bagan Para cut out the wood to shape up the idol of Rakhal Raja. The same idol is still being worshipped.
Nawab Murshid Quli Khan is said to have donated the land to Ram Kanu Goswami for constructing the temple. The Nawab was incredibly impressed when Ram Kanu provided the food to his troops, who got to halt a night in the village, informed Nikhil Goswami, a priest.
A Samadhi (tomb) is also made in remembrance of Ram Kanu.
An old timer of the place recalled a few uncanny stories surrounding the temple. Once some paddy growers went out in the night to the field in the ambit of the temple area to check if harvested crops were in place or stolen away. They observed white cows grazing in the field. The paddy growers left the site;.The following day, they found the crops were unharmed, but the cows/cattle seen overnight were no longer there.
.”One sadhu decided to face reality to uncover the mystery. He stayed over temple premises for two nights, but on the third night, he ran away. After that, no one sees him again,” says the old man.
Priest Nikhil Goswami informed that in Rakhal Raja Temple, phug khala (Holi with gulal) marked the festive occasion of Ram Navami.
The place has a good connection with Kolkata through roads and trains. One can come here from Kolkata by taking any Burdwan-bound local train from Howrah station, getting down at Boinchi station, catching a Kalna-bound bus from the station, get down at Baidya Pur Rathtala. From here, the temple is within walkable distance. One may also drive down from Kolkata along National Highway No. 16 to reach here.
The place is lovely for a one-day short trip for a pleasant shift from the routine chores.
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