Nabadwip - A tete a tete with the city :
Location : Eastern India, West Bengal, Nadia district.
Best time to visit : October to March.
Local Transport : Rickshaws, private cars, taxis, buses.
Places to see : Sonar Gouranga Temple, Dwadas Shib Mandir, Sri Chaitanya Math and many other temples.
Souvenirs : Local Handicrafts.
Nabadwip - The Tale of the city :
History has it that Nabadwip one of the cities under the district of Nadia was the erstwhile capital of Bengal under Ballal Sen and Lakshman Sen who were the famous Sena rulers from 1159 to 1206. Nabadwip is actually famous as the place where Sri Chaitanaya was born. In the late 15th century, he influenced the thinking here and brought about a spiritual and a moral change. However history also has that there are differed opinions regarding this place being h is birth place. Believed to be the “Lila Kshetra” of Sri Chaitanya, this place has seen a lot of political conflicts. The Turks conquered this place and defeated the Bengal King Lakshman Sena. The then capital Nabadwip was almost facing a possibility of losing its culture. The entire city was plunged in chaos and the Turks were in a total mood of plundering the entire region. The wealth and the culture of the district suffered. The zamindars in their turn charged heavy taxes on the locals. This is the time Chaitanya was born and he brought about the Bhakti Cult. This freshness changed entire Nadia and soon the whole of the State of Bengal. The high and the low the classes of society got influenced and the moral change brought about due to this great reformer largely changed the scenario at Nabadwip. This district was a great centre of learning. In the year 1202 Bakhtiyar Khilji took over Nabadwip, the Sena Capital. Thus the Muslim rule started in Bengal. The great centers, Nadia and Nabadwip were famous as centers of learning and intellectual abilities. It was considered as the “Oxford” of Bengal.. Nadia district has some important towns like Krishnanagar, Kalyani, Ranaghat, Tehatta, and Dhubulia. Sir Chaitanya, Sir Advaita Acharya, are some illustrious figures from this place. Nadia district has four subdivisions - Krishnanagar Sadar which has the Krishnanagar municipality, Nabadwip municipality and 7 community development blocks. The Nabadwip UA has Nabadwip, Char Majidia, and The Nabadwip Community Development Block has three census towns - Bablari Dewanganj, Char Maijidia. This block is served by the Nabadwip police station. The gram panchayat is a part of the block. The years 1486 to 1533 saw the birth of the great Chaitanyadeb at Nabadwip Prachin Mayapur. Thus Nabadwip, the Gour Gangar Desh was a famous place in history. “Rash Utsav” and “Pat Purnima” “Rash Kali Puja” or “Shakta Rash” are all important festivals held here.
Nabadwip - Down the Ages :
Down the ages, Nabadwip, the Gour Gangar Desh has alluvial soil and lies on the banks of the River Hooghly. This river is known locally as Bhaghirathi. There are many distributaries like the Churni, Icchamati, and Jalangi which flow through this place. Nabadwip is located at the confluence of the River Bhaghirathi and River Jhalangi. The River Bhaghirathi has changed course and today Nabadwip lies on the western banks of this river. Earlier it used to lie on the eastern banks with the remaining portions of the district of Nadia. Floods are very common here due to the silting of the rivers. Today the ground water is contaminated with arsenic. Nabadwip is a city and lies as a municipality in the Nadia district.
Nabadwip - A Rendezvous :
A rendezvous with Nabadwip or Navadwip, reveals that this is a city and is also a municipality in the district of Nadia in West Bengal. Nabadwip literally means 9 islands in Bengali. It comprises of the Antardwip, Rudradwip, Simantadwip, Madhyadwip,Modadrumdwip, Godrumdwip, Koladwip and Ritudwip. This is the place where many great men like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu have taken birth. The Gaudiya Vaishnavites come to Nabadwip on a pilgrimage. Today Nabadwip or the city of 9 islands has a population of more than 1,15000. The literacy rate is 75% that is more than the national average. It has three railway stations one at Nabadwip Dham, the other is Bishnupriya in Howrah and Nabadwip Ghat in Sealdah. Nabadwip Dham is around 65km from Bandel, 105km from Howrah and 112 km from the Sealdah station. Nabadwip is well connected to Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Bengal and the city of Kolkata.
Nabadwip - Travel kitty :
One expect a lot in a place that has a population of around 115,000 where Nature is at its best? Any place that we go to in India is sure to give us some kind of travel kitty or the other. The locals here are very simple and the tourist considers that as his travel kitty. The ambience is electric and that could be another precious travel kitty. On the way around we could find some kind of local handicrafts. That is the ideal travel kitty. In short, the little island beauty Nabadwip can give you itself as a travel kitty to carry back with memories.
Nabadwip - Joie de vivre in the city :
Nabadwip is more famous as a religious than a tourist spot. The city is completely full of temples. These temples are in various forms, big, small, new and old. The Shaivites, Shaktas and the Vaishnavites all come to Nabadwip on a religious trip. The month of November sees a lot of festivity here as it is the month of Agharayan which is very auspicious in the Bengali calendar. The joie de vivre of living here is seeing these temples. One gets to see the following here :
Sonar Gouranga Temple: This is a very famous temple in Nabadwip. Located next to the Sribas Angar and opposite the Sri Samajbari Ashram, this temple is very well known for its golden shrine of the reformer and saint Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The footwear used by him is kept here in a glass case. Pratap Chandra Goswami was a great follower of Sri Chaitanya and he got this temple constructed in his memory. Today it is a major seat of the Garia VAishnav cult.
Sri Chaitanya Math: This is a temple that was founded by the followers of Sri Chaitanya. Found in the year 1941, this temple was established by Sri Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj who was a disciple of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Nabadwip was made the headquarters of the temple. The temple has many branches today and they are found in India and in countries abroad.
Dwadas Shib Mandir: This is again another famous temple in Nabadwip. Lord Shiva is the main deity in this temple. It was built in the year 1835. The temple is famous for the lovely floral designs it has. Many pilgrims come here during the festival of Mahashivratri and celebrate.
Other Towns Nearby to Visit :
Mayapur: This is a very popular spot for tourists. They come here from all over to visit the Hare Krishna ISKCON temple here. The Radha Madhava deities are found here and the idols are surrounded by eight gopis. The statues of Narasimha Deva and the Pancha Tatva have been enshrined here in the temple.
Krishnanagar: This is a great excursion spot for people nearby. This place is famous for its clay modeling and pottery works. Shri Dwijendra Lal Roy a very famous Bengali poet was born here. This was the centre of Catholic activities amongst the Christian missionaries. The Roman Catholic Church and the Krishnanagar Palace are places of tourist attractions here.
Bethuadahari: This is a great wildlife natural park. This sanctuary has a wide range of species of animals and birds. The jackal, spotted deer, Bengal fox, common langur and porcupine are found here. Besides one can also find birds like the Indian cuckoo, parakeets, barbets and many other variety of birds. This is the sanctuary which is famous for its pythons and snakes.
Shantipur: This was famous as a centre of learning and is a major point for literature also. The Topkhana Mosque here is very popular. This was built by Fauzder Gazi Mohammad Yaar Khan. This was built during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Shavam Chand temple is also a tourist attraction as it is built in the very conventional Aatchala style. Besides this one also finds the Adwaita Prabhu temple and the Jaleshwar temple are also famous temples in Shantipur.
Nabadwip - Entertainment factor :
Nabadwip is famous as a major centre of festivals. One who comes here is sure taken in by the history, tradition and culture that is related to this place. The place is full of festivals giving it the right entertainment quotient. Some of the festivals celebrated here are :
Rash Utsav: This is a history which goes back to the Bhagavat Purana where the Sri Krishna’s nion with the gopis is expressed in the Rash Lila. In Nabadwip, the Shaktas, or the devotees of Shakti and the Saivas or the Siva devotees join the Vaishnavas who are the devotees of Vishnu. So the word meal means the union of all the three devotees of Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Saivism. The adage “Yata Mat Tato Path” is used throughout the festival. It is believed that King Krishna Chandra Roy started the Rash festival. All the images are worshipped in different pandals with lot of decoration, drums, flutes etc. The air is filled with music and united concert. There is a procession called the Navami, the next day is the bisarjan day when the idols are kept on carts and taken around the city, with a musical procession called the Arang. This festival is also known as the “Pat Purnima” or the “Rash Kali Puja” or the “Shakta Rash”. It is the variety of idols that are showcased that attracts everyone. The idols of Baishanaba Sabha, Saiba Idols are famous. This festival is almost like the national festival of the people of Nabadwip.
Dol Jatra: Holi is known as Dol Purnima in the state of Bengal. The Dol Purnima sees people dressed in saffron and wearing garlands of flowers. Singing and dancing to music they give a wonderful view of the harvest season. The festival is known as Dol Jatra. The idols of Krishna and Radha are kept on a palanquin or Dol and this is taken around the streets. The devotees take turns to move the palanquins of dols and the women enjoy and celebrate by dancing around to devotional songs. The men keep spraying colored water or “abeer” on each other.
Besides this, there are other festivals like the dol Jatra, the Birthday of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Rath Yatra, Ganga Puja, Kali Puja , Jhulan and Rakhi Purnima celebrated here.
Rath Yatra: This festival is held during the months of July and August. This is the time it is believed that Lord Jagannath or Lord Krishna goes to his maternal uncle’s house. Rath means chariot and Jatra means journey. This is celebrated all over India. But it is mainly celebrated in Bengal and Orissa. There are many people gathered and they pull the big rath with ropes and seek blessings from the Lord. They believe that the Lord would give them freedom from all their sins.
Jhulan: This is an event that attracts most of the people from all over. This is a festival that is almost a fair. The vigor and enthusiasm with which people participate is seen to be believed. It is equivalent to the swing festival in Vrindavan.
Gaura Purnima: The idols of Sri Guru Gauranga Gandharva Govindasundajri is dressed beautifully on the morning of the main day Sri Gaura Purnima. In the evening a lamp with around 108 wicks are lighted and offered as a part of the arti celebrations. In the evening there is a grand sankirtan and there is also a Bhoga Arti.
Thus with a lot of pomp and glory, with culture and tradition as its trademark, the city of Nabadwip offers the best to the tourist.
As one leaves the place one thinks “ Glory be to Chaitanya, glory be to Nabadwip.