In our country, any place with a temple easily attracts a million pilgrims. But it feels good to find a small village in Bengal drawing visitors to pay homage to a legendary scholar who created one of the finest Vaishnava texts in Sanskrit more than 800 years ago.
Welcome to Kendubillo, popularly known as Kendua or Jayadev Kenduli, a village on the bank of river Ajay on the Burdwan-Birbhum border. Theories abound about Jayadev’s birthplace and scholars in Odisha claim he was born in Kenduvila, Puri, but the people of Bengal love to believe that the poet of Gita Govinda was born here.
|Bauls perform at Jayadev Kenduli fair
Kendubillo is also known for its terracotta temples. A majestic Radha Vinod temple, a masterpiece in the Navaratna style that is a trademark of the Bengal school of architecture, is a must-see. It was established by Maharani Brajakishori, mother of Maharaja Kirtichandra of the royal family of Burdwan, in 1683. This nine-tower temple has terracotta panels only on the front. Panels and designs on the other sides were destroyed a long time ago. But the surviving terracotta panels are in excellent condition and very different from what we find on the walls of temples in Bankura.
The walls of the Radha Vinod temple are filled with figures from Hindu mythology. While the centre and right side of the front walls are embellished with sequences from the Ramayana, the left side depicts the stories of Krishnaleela with details of Krishna’s various avatars.
The front facade is magnificently decorated with dancing figures and various Hindu motifs like kalash, lotus and floral designs. It has three gates with as many arches — all decorated with small images of monkeys blowing war trumpets. There are four layers of images on each segment of the wall vividly describing the war of Ram and Ravan.
Kenduli is also popular for its congregation of baul singers from all corners of Bengal. The assembly takes the shape of a big fair at the time of Poush Sankranti. Legend has it that this fair started as soon as the temple was established by the Burdwan royal family. Some scholars are of the opinion that this fair was originally a celebration of local fishermen who used to worship the trees. Later baul singers started participating in it and now the 800-year-old fair is known as Jayadev baul mela.
If you start in the morning and reach Kendubillo before noon, you will have ample time to roam around the place and go to Ilambazar or Santiniketan for the night.
Kendubillo is located on the Durgapur-Ilambazar highway and is well-connected by road. It’s just 30km from Durgapur and around 190km from Calcutta. By car, it takes little more than an hour from Bolpur.
Basic accommodation available. You can also spend the night at Ilambazar or Santiniketan.