West Bengal (PART-XI)
59 km from Bolpur, Bakreswar is a holy place with an attractive hot-spring. Village Bakreswar in Suri Sub-division is situated 18 kms South West of Suri, the district headquarter of Birbhum. The place is renowned for "HOT-SPRING" and has historical importance as holy place for the existence of "SHIVA LINGAM". There is a number of hot springs with cold springs in close proximity to them. They all discharge in to a rivulet which run past and join a small stream about 200 yards from the temple. The hot springs at Bakreswar are reputed to cure numerous chronic ailments. A big Mela is held every year on the day of Shiva-Ratri.
Kankalitala, 10 km from Shantiniketan is one of the fifty two peethas where the dismembered parts of Sati fell. Labhpur is also famous as one of the sacred peetha where the dead body of Sati fell. The famous temple of goddess Fullora also adds some interest to the religious importance of the place.
Tarapith is a small temple town, 80 km from Bolpur, is situated near the Dwaraka River, near Rampurhat in Birbhum district. The town is known for its Temple and its adjoining cremation grounds where Tantric rites are performed. The Tantric Hindu temple is dedicated to goddess Tara. Tarapith derives its name from its association as the most important centre of Tara worship and her cult.
Goddess Tara according to local legend suckled the thirst drenched Shiva, and saved him from suffering. The Murti is covered in a golden mask during the day, and during the night they remove this covering. She is described as holding two snakes in her hands, and Lord Shiva on her lap suckling.
Tarapith is also famous for Bama khepa known as the 'mad saint', who worshiped in the temple and resided in the cremation grounds as a mendicant and practiced and perfected Yoga and the Tantric art under the tutelage of another famous saint known as the Kailashpathi Baba. Bama Khepa dedicated his entire life to the worship of mother Tara. His ashram is also located close to the temple.
Nalhati is a pilgrimage centre, 75 km from Bolpur. It is famous for Nalateswari Temple. It is so called because 'Nala' or throat of Goddes Sati fell here as known by tradition. Another report says that it was a 'Lalat' or forehead that fell here. It is regarded as a Pithas i.e. one of the 52 places where parts of Sati's body fell. It is located on a small & beautiful hill.
Jaidev Kenduli, 30 km from Shantiniketan, had long been considered as a possible birthplace of the poet Jayadeva, who had composed Gita Govinda in Sanskrit. Its authenticity is contested, and in spite of the academic controversy, has developed as a religious centre with many temples and ashramas (hermitages). An annual fair, popular as **Baul fair, is organized on the occasion of Makar Sankranti.
**Baul: Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal. The term Baul refers to both a synergetic religious sect and a musical tradition used as a vehicle to express Baul thought. Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many different streams to the sect, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnavite Hindus and Sufi Muslims. They can be often identified by their distinctive clothes and musical instruments, such as the ektara. Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable. In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.
Image Courtesy: https://www.google.co.in/search?q=birbhum+district&tbm