Sarbamangala Devi Temple in Bardhaman
The Sarbamangala Devi Temple in Barddhaman is one of the most famous temples in the district which is visited by a large number of devotees regularly. Considered to be the presiding Goddess of Burdwan Raj, the idol of Goddess Durga or Sarbamangala Devi, as she is popularly known in these parts, is said to have been found from the sand bed of River Damodar. Located in the Burdwan Municipality on the D.N. Sarkar Road, this temple complex is one of the oldest religious institutions of Bardhaman and it comprises of the main temple of Goddess Sarbamangala along with the Tarakeswar, the Rameswar, the Kamaleswar, the Chandreswar and the Mitraswar Shiv Temples.
The shrine of Goddess Sarbamangala was built by Maharaja Kirti Chand of Burdwan in the year 1702. Since it is one of the oldest religious institutions in the area, the Sarbamangala Devi Temple has acquired an importance and a following that makes hundreds of devotees come to the temple everyday making it as popular as the temples of Kalighat, Dakshineswar and Tarapith in the state of West Bengal. In addition to this, the special and festive occasions like the Bengali New Year, that is the first day of the month of Baisakh or ‘Poila Boisakh’ as it is more popularly known in Bengal, the Bipadtarini Brata, the Sharodiya Durgotsov (the days of the Durga Puja), the Kali Puja, the Nabanna and the Maha Shivaratri Brata witness huge crowds of people thronging the temple as well as the temple premises.
The architecture of the Sarbamangala Devi Temple in Bardhaman is a unique blend of the terracotta style of architecture and the popular style of architecture in those times in Bengal. The structure of the temple consists of three layers where the second layer of the temple has four chariots and the third layer has five chariots. The portico of the temple that is the structure which consists of a roof supported by columns at regular intervals and which is typically attached as a porch to a building is a beautifully constructed extension to the temple and adds to the charm of the place. The temple also has nine spires or ‘Nabaratanas’ as they are called locally and is considered to be the first ‘Nabaratna’ temple in the undivided Bengal. The main entrance to the temple complex is a long two storey structure and has a big arch gateway which faces the East.
The prime attraction of the Sarbamangala Devi Temple is the one thousand year old idol of Goddess Durga which is made up of precious touchstone. The statue of the idol is 12 inches x 8 inches in dimension and people have found a mention of its existence in classical literatures and holy books from the times of yore. The idol of Maa Durga in the temple has eighteen hands (nine on each side) which have both weapons as well as hand crafted symbols in them. According to the legends, Goddess Sarbamangala had killed a buffalo, thereby being known as ‘Mahisha Mardini’, literally meaning ‘the killer of the buffalo’. Since the idol of the Goddess is seated on a lion, Goddess Durga is also known as ‘Singhabahini’.
The three hundred year old main shrine of the Sarbamangala Devi Temple was built by Maharaja Kirti Chand Roy in the first decade of the 18th century and was worshipped by the Burdwan Raj family since its establishment. As a result, the Burdwan Raj Estate looked after and bore all expenses of the temple. However, after the abolition of the Zamindari system, on 16th June in the year 1959, the then king of Burdwan, Maharaja Uday Chand Mahatab formed a Trust Board constituting of seven members which was headed by the Chairman of the Burdwan Municipality. Since then, the temple has been thus handed over in favour of the Trust Board which has been managing and performing the daily worship of the deity, looking after the properties of the temple as well as organising celebrations on festivals and special occasions.
On festive occasions, the number of devotees coming to offer their prayers into the temple runs into lakhs. On 7th September 2000, the Government of India declared this temple as a place of ‘public worship’ considering its historical and archaeological importance via Notification No. 11478.
The temple has a meagre income; however, in the year 1994, the Trust Board of the temple renovated and upgraded the temple with the help of donations by the devotees as well as by respectable business firms. A new ‘Bhog Ghar’ measuring approximately 4000 square feet was constructed inside the temple premises which can provide daily ‘bhog’ (meaning lunch or dinner) to a large number of devotees. The renovations also included the remodelling of all the Shiva temples inside the premises of the temple as well as creation of a beautiful garden with one big fountain within the temple campus.
A spacious square shaped ‘Nat Mandir’ measuring 5000 square feet approximately just in front of the main temple of Goddess Sarbamangala as well as a Yatri Niwas was also constructed for pilgrims coming from outside the city of Bardhaman which can accommodate about 40 people. The range of other facilities were introduced as well to facilitate the visit of the pilgrims which constitute electricity for lights and fans, drinking water, telephone services, toilets and car parking facilities.
Currently, the District Administration of Bardhaman and the Burdwan Municipal Authority have come to the forefront to help and support the cooperation for the development in and around the complex of the Sarbamangala Devi Temple in consultation with the Government of West Bengal.
Legend of the Sarbamangala Temple in BardhamanAccording to the local myths and legends, the idol of Goddess Sarbamangala was first spotted by some lime makers inside a lime kiln, which is a furnace or an oven for burning, baking and drying limestone. This sudden appearance of an antique idol caused a furore in the kingdom of Burdwan which led to the then king of Burdwan to order his men to bring the idol from the lime kiln and place it on a suitable site. The statue of the deity was ultimately installed on a mound on the bank of the Banka River which is a tributary of the Damodar River. The Banka River could be easily navigated at this point of time as it was surrounded by large tracts of land on both sides of the river.
Subsequently, the king of Burdwan ordered a temple to be built in this place which was decorated with nine beautifully constructed spires. Overlooking the Banka River in the south direction, the main shrine of Sarbamangala Devi had two storeys with horizontal cornices which are actually ornamental mouldings round the wall of a room just below the ceiling. The first storey of the shrine had four spires and the second storey had a much smaller base area with five spires. Because of its antiquity, this idol of Goddess Durga was revered by the kings of Burdwan as well as by the common people of the main town of Burdwan and the adjoining districts.
The temple of Goddess Sarbamangala is also believed to contain the remains of Goddess Sati who was the first wife of Lord Shiva and whose umbilicus, that is the navel is said to have been situated here. In addition to this, there are quite a number of temples and Shivalingams within the Sarbamangala temple complex. There are two large Shiva temples within the temple premises which are known as Chandaneswar and Indreswar and which have been decorated with terracotta panels. One of these Shiva temples has a very huge and very beautiful image of Goddess Durga on the terracotta panel set just above the entrance.
Another Shiva temple known as Mitraswar stands just opposite the main shrine of the Sarbamangala Devi Temple facing the idol of the Goddess. This temple has five pinnacles which had been constructed by following the Orissa style of architecture. In the second decade of the nineteenth century, Maharaja Tej Chand of Burdwan, the grand-nephew of Maharaja Kirti Chand gave orders to construct two other Shiva temples which also faced the main temple of Goddess Sarbamangala. An interesting fact about these Shiva Temples is that all the idols of Lord Shiva or the Shivalingams are made up of white marble instead of the usual black marble.
History of the Sarbamangala Devi TempleAccording to historical sources, the arch-enemy and the mighty army of the Marathas invaded the western side of Bengal from the River Ganga in the early eighteenth century. This invasion continued for many years causing much destruction in the area. A Maratha community called Bargis penetrated and plundered the border principalities of Birbhum, Burdwan and Bankura with all their might. This Maratha army overthrew the royal family of Burdwan, raided the villages, ransacked and burnt the granaries and killed a large number of men, women and children all over the district. They even demolished all the buildings in the district including all temples and mosques.
In the year 1740, the then king of Burdwan, Maharaja Chitra Sen Ray had set up his base camp at Garh of Cowgachhi near the region of Triveni to try and control and fight back the army of the Maratha Bargis. One night, the king dreamt that he was lying abandoned and in a distraught condition on the bank of River Damodar when Goddess Sarbamangala appeared to him in his sleep. The Goddess asked the king to rescue the idol of Sarbamangala Devi and place her in a temple as a result of which the Marathas would be stopped since Bhaskar Pandit, the leader of the Maratha Bargis was an ardent devotee Goddess Durga.
The next day, Raja Chitra Sen Ray rushed to Burdwan along with his followers and from the people residing on bank of River Damodar, heard that some lime manufacturer had found a black stone which had an image of the Goddess engraved on it and had handed it over to the local priests upon their request. Learning about this news, the king rushed to the priests and recollected his dream to them as well as requesting them to hand over the idol to him. The local priests acceded to the king’s request and gave the statue to him, who collected it and established the idol at the present temple complex. As a result, the attack by the Maratha invaders was stopped as well the temple of Sarbamangala Devi was established in Bardhaman.
Origin of the Goddess SarbamangalaAccording to the results of many researches, the first mention of Goddess Sarbamangala was found during the age of Chandi, which is espoused in the Markandeya Purana which is one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas and a part of the genre of Hindu religious texts. The image of the Goddess was engraved on a touchstone and had nine hands on each side constituting eighteen weapons. The incantation of each weapon is cited in the Sri Sri Chandi by Swami Jagadiwarananda of Belur Math, Ramakrishna Mission. Hence, the origin of Goddess Sarbamangala is considered to be coming from more than 2,500 years ago.
Researchers have also found another dimension to the above mentioned origin of the Goddess Sarbamangala which is information about the language and the alphabets engraved beneath the idol of the Goddess. The words and alphabets are written in Khorosthi Lipi, however, most of this script has not been deciphered yet. The names of the weapons and handcrafted items that have been engraved beneath the image of Goddess Sarbamangala in Khorosthi Script are as follows: lotus, conch shell, axe, arrow, hammer, bow, sword, shield, wheel, bell, snake, kamandalu (which is an oblong water pot made of a dry gourd or coconut shell, usually with a handle and sometimes with a spout), bead, rod, thunder and Shakti.
The source of Goddess Sarbamangala can also be found from the ‘Chandimangal Kavya’, which has been written by Mukunda Chakroborty as well as from a poem written by Bharat Chandra Roy. These texts trace the origin of the Goddess as being not only the Devi of Burdwan in the ancient age but also as the mother of Rarh region in the Chotanagpur Plateau. Between the years 1740 to 1744, Goddess Sarbamangala was thereby established in an exquisitely carved temple which had a ‘navaratna deul’ adorning the roof the shrine.
Contact Information of the Sarbamangala Devi TemplePilgrims and devotees can contact the officials in charge of the Trust Board with regard to their queries about the Sarbamangala Devi Temple. The Trust Board looks after the day-to day workings of the temple as well as organises the various festivals and celebrations in the temple premises. Their contact details are as follows:
Phone: (0342) 2560698(0342) 2560698
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