Some of the most beautiful and richly embellished temples in eastern India are to be found 93 miles north of Kolkata at Bishnupur. Although now little known outside West Bengal, the town was once the prosperous capital of the Malla rajas, who ruled the region until the rise of the Mughals in the 17th century.
Under royal patronage, the arts flourished here for nearly a thousand years and Bishnupur remains an important crafts centre – particularly for silk weaving (local ‘Baluchari’ wedding saris are highly prized by Bengali women) and hand-painted Dasavtara playing cards, featuring colourful images of Hindu deities, which you’ll see being made in workshops on Chinnamasta Rd. It is, however, to see the extraordinary terracotta temples that most visitors travel to the town.
The town is also the home of a school of Indian Classical music, known as Bishnupur Gharana, which emerged in the 13th century but saw its peak between three- and four-hundred years later. Performances are held occasionally in the lawned grounds of the terracotta temples.