visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. A visit to the place is an
education by itself. There are hundreds of images of deities in a large number of temples
within a specified area but there is hardly any human habitation not associated with the
temples. Whoever is there at Bakreswar having something to do with the temples. At other places the
deities live in a habitude village but at Bakreswar the men live for the deities. So
Bakreswar is an idyllic deva- gram or a place where the deities live. The men that are
there are the pujaris, pandas, pilgrims or the few shopkeepers who entirely depend on the
rush of pilgrims to the temples.
Most of the temples are typical Charchala Bangla Mandir. Besides the typical Bangla Mandir
type of temples there are quite a few temples of Orissan Rekhdeul type. A large number of
temples are without any image. The main Bakranath temple is not a Bangla Mandir type but
is more akin to the Rekhdeul of Orissa. The Sikara and amlaka of this large Bakranath
temple could be seen from quite a distance. It appears that there was a pooling of skill
of Bengali and Oriya artists and architects to execute the main temple of Bakreswar.
The environs are somewhat fearsome. To the east and north of the
holy place runs the Bakreswar River and to the south is the Papahara River. By the
side of this river there is a crematorium. The Papahara river is traditionally considered
to be the agency for wiping out the sins of human frailties and that is why there is never
a dearth of dead bodies brought even from a great distance for cremation and obtaining
Mukti (salvation). Cremation looks to be a part and parcel of what makes Bakreswar.
One is reminded of the Pashupatinath temple at Katmandu in Nepal to whose steps dead
bodies are frequently brought for the last rest before confined to the flames.
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