If everything goes according to plan, all 10 of the temples in Bishnupur (Bankura, West Bengal) under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will have information boards written in Braille for the benefit of the visually challenged visitors, according to the ASI’s Kolkata office.
Bishnupur, a former royal principality of West Bengal, located about 140km from Kolkata, is known for its mostly 17th and 18th century temples. The temples are made of laterite and terracotta; it is the latter that has catapulted the town to global fame. The finely crafted terracotta tiles which cover the façade of the temples depict tales from the Indian epics and mythological texts.
Of the 10 monuments under the ASI, the Rasmancha, and the Jor Bangla and Shyam-Rai temples are ticketed monuments and have paths fitted with tactile tiles for the benefit of the visually challenged, according to media reports.
Over the past few years, not only information boards written in Braille are being installed at popular monuments across India, some of them are also being fitted with tactile pathways for the easy movement of visually impaired visitors. Many of the monuments are also introducing wheel-chair enabled pathways and ramps for the differently abled and elderly visitors.
The Ras Mancha in Bishnupur, datable to the 17th century, is a unique structure – a pyramidal structure built on a laterite plinth; the central shrine is enclosed within a network of corridors.
The brick-built Shyam Rai temple is situated within the former fort precincts and, according to the ASI, is the most profusely carved temple in Bishnupur.
The Jor Bangla, also known as the Krishna Rai temple, which looks like two typical Bengal huts joined together, is covered in exquisitely carved terracotta panels. Both Jor Bangla and Shyam Rai temples have been featured on Indian stamps.
Apart from the protected temples, Bishnupur is home to many other temples, scattered all over the town. The best way to see them is to hire a local rickshaw but do negotiate the rate. Winter is the best time to visit Bishnupur; however, immidiately after the monsoon, washed by the rains, the temples appear in their glory, and hence this is a good time to photograph the temples.