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Hetampur – the cultural heritage site of Birbhum

14 January, 2021 16:28:28
Hetampur – the cultural heritage site of Birbhum

A slice of history enveloped in antiquity, art and architecture -- that is what sums up Hetampur in Birbhum district of West Bengal. When we speak of Birbhum, the world around and Bengalis will always speak of Tagore’s Santiniketan. But hardly we have ever highlighted the cultural heritage of the lesser known Hetampur. The concept of cultural heritage has gradually grown to include all evidence of human creativity and expressions --- from photographs to documents, books and manuscripts and even instruments.

Temple of Dewanji

Hetampur seems to have it all. It is undoubtedly a tourist destination and a history lover’s delightful journey to the past. Around 200 kms from Kolkata, driving through the picturesque forests of Ilambazar will take you to Hetampur, a tiny hamlet, which developed as a zamindari in the past. Earlier known as ‘Raghabpur’ after Raghab Roy, who was local zamindar, Hetampur changed hands and also names. After the zamindar under the Rajnagar Royal family rebelled, the ruler had sent General Hatem Khan to curb it. Following Hatem Khan’s conquest, the area was named as ‘Hatempur’ after the name of Hatem Khan but later came to be known as Hetampur.

The Royal Palace

After Hatem Khan’s death in 1755, Chaitanya Charan Chakrabarty arrived and under him, the Hatempur Raj prospered and grew to become ‘Hetampur Raj.’ He started ruling the territory. Hetampur was conferred the Royal status in 1877 by the British Raj. It still has a treasure of exquisite buildings including Ranjan Prasad or Hetampur Hazarduari, built by Maharaja Ramranjan Chakraborty as the royal residence of the family in 1905. The palace has a magnificent structure, a medley of Victorian style and Gothic architecture, along with a red brick gateway. The uniqueness of the palace are the Corinthian pillars holding the porch. The mansion’s architecture is heavily influenced by Gothic style and arched windows. These ornate columns have their history in ancient Greece and are classified as one of the Classical Orders of Architecture.

The 1000 doors or ‘Hazar Duari’ have resemblance with ‘hazarduari’ palace of Murshidabad. There is a Royal Emblem of the Hetampur Raj family on the top of the mansion, which showcases an antelope and a unicorn. In the middle of the emblem, there is a hollow circle. The frescoes inside the palace on the first floor depict scenes from Vishnu Purana and Ramayana. Ramranjan Chakrborty’s son Kamala Niranjan Chakrabarty was a connoisseur of art. The royal chariot inside the palace is definitely another tourist attraction. The brass chariot imported from England by the family.

The intricate details on the walls of Chandranath Shiva Temple

The palace with a rich legacy which had drawn attention of legendary filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Tarun Majumdar and Mrinal Sen who had used the palace as backdrop in their films. Renowned filmmaker Satyajit Roy had kept Hetampur Palace in the backdrop of his film. The Palace was filmed in details during Sandip Roy’s telefilm ‘Gosainpur Sargaram.’ Built in 1847, Chandranath Shiva Temple, unlike its terracotta counterparts, flaunts British architecture. An octagonal Shiva temple, Chandranath Shiva has eight turrets surrounding a central dome. The frontal part of the temple has terracotta plaques with images of Goddess Durga, Lakshmi and Krishna and depiction of Hindu mythology inscribed on it. While plaques displaying Queen Victoria, British men, women and coats of arms bearing semblance with British East India Company on the other side of the temple, bring out the uniqueness of the temple. Another temple that is a must see is Dewanji Shiva Temple, built in Rekha Deul style with elaborate terracotta sculpture on its walls. 

If you wish to go on a weekend getaway do visit this cultural heritage site of Bengal.

 How to get there: 
Though there are convenient rail links from Howrah station to the nearest station Dubrajpur, the best option, considering the present scenario, is to make a road trip to Hetampur. The roads are in excellent condition, and the distance is approximately 200 kms.

Rangabitan Tourism Property, Santiniketan

 Where to stay 
The nearest West Bengal Tourism properties are in Santiniketan- SHANTOBITAN TOURISM PROPERTY earlier Shantiniketan Tourist Lodge or RANGABITAN TOURISM PROPERTY earlier Rangabitan Tourist Complex, approximately an hour’s drive from the site. 

Shantobitan Tourism Property, Santiniketan

For more information, contact
West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation Ltd
DG Block, Sector-II, Salt Lake
Kolkata 700091
Phone: (033) 2358 5189, Fax: 2359 8292

Story Tag:
  • Hetampur, Bengal Tourism

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