Bishnupur Mela, Bishnupur Overview

The Bishnupur Mela is an annual fair held in the month of Poush of the Bengali Calendar and is held in the town of Bishnupur. It celebrates the cultural richness of the region, providing the attendees with a glimpse of how the traditional Bengali culture has witnessed change over time. It venerates the traditional music and dance of the state of West Bengal and provides the visitors a glimpse of the Bengali cultural heritage.

When is the Bishnupur Mela Celebrated?

Since the Poush Mela is celebrated on the seventh day of the month of Poush of the Bengali calendar, the Bishnupur Mela is organized around the same time.
It is a four-day festival and the dates for 2021 haven't been announced yet. 

Stalls at the Bishnupur Mela
Stalls at the Bishnupur Mela
Source

The Bishnupur Mela is celebrated to mark the end of the agricultural season in the Bishnupur town of the Indian state of West Bengal. The festival is celebrated in the last week of December, around the same time as the Poush Mela in the town of Shantiniketan, thus has acquired the same name as Poush Mela. 

Where is the Bishnupur Mela Celebrated?

The Bishnupur Mela, organized at the same time as the Poush Mela, is held around the Madanmohan Temple in the town of Bishnupur in the Indian state of West Bengal. Bishnupur is at an approximate distance of 132 kilometres from the capital city, Kolkata. Bishnupur happens to be an ancient town, and the festival carries the historic legacy of the town.

History of Bishnupur

The Madanmohan Temple
The Madanmohan Temple
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The Malla kings ruled Bishnupur, and thus the place is also known as Mallabhoom, meaning land of the Malla, after the rulers. The Malla rulers belonged to the Vaishnava tradition of worship and erected several terracotta temples. That is the reason the town is famous for its terracotta temples, which are one of their kinds, and are recognized as historical gems.

The early rulers of Bishnupur, who were locals of the land, paid tribute to the Gupta rulers and were in their patronage. Primarily, three rulers who ruled Bishnupur are considered to be the key contributors in making the place acquire its cultural, historical and religious significance. These were King Veer Hambir, and the kings who succeeded him, Raja Raghunath Singha Dev, and then King Bir Singha Dev. It was under their rule that Bishnupur saw the construction of significant terracotta temples. The famous Baluchari sarees and the terracotta crafts, add to the richness of the heritage.

It was because of the royal patronage that the Bishnupur Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music came into being, and acquired repute, in the 18th century. The Bishnupur School of painting too is an outcome of the patronage that the royal ranks blessed upon the development of the art.

Today, the temples of Bishnupur are among the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites, since the year 1997. The Madanmohan temple is the place where the annual Bishnupur Mela is celebrated in the last week of December. The festival stretches for four days usually, and takes place around the same time as Poush mela in Shantiniketan, and is also known by the same name by many. 

How is the Bishnupur Mela Celebrated?

Terracotta works in Bishnupur
Terracotta works in Bishnupur
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The annual fair of Bishnupur is organized in the last week of December and is held near the famous Madanmohan Temple, which is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna. The Bishnupur fair is much like the Poush Mela of Shantiniketan and is organized around the same time. Various activities go around during the Bishnupur Mela.

The Mela is organized to mark the end of the agricultural season and is celebrated by people of Bishnupur as well as people of nearby villages coming together to celebrate.

The Bishnupur Mela is organized with contemporary innovations and is organized by an organizing committee which decides on the features to include in the Mela. A fashion show is organized on occasion, on the lines of various fashion shows across the country on various events. The winner is awarded a prize.

Moreover, a dog show is held at the festival, which is a competition cum show. These innovations have both attracted many visitors to the festival and have brought criticism to the organizing committee of the Mela.

Pots and Pans at the Bishnupur Mela
Pots and Pans at the Bishnupur Mela
Source

Local handicrafts also find a place in the stalls of the Mela. The handicrafts made on traditional designs are sold on the stalls, and the local artistry is represented in the Mela, giving the artists a reason and occasion to look out for.

Various stalls are to be found in the Mela, upon which sweets, clothes, shells, and other items are to be found. The visitors have a good time enjoying the stalls.

The Bishnupur Utsav is celebrated just after the end of Bishnupur Mela. The Bishnupur Utsav is celebrated to venerate the famous Baishnupur Gharana of Hindustani Classical Music. The Bishnupur Utsav is a celebration of music and dance and brings a lot of visitors to the festival. The Utsav is a recent addition to the Bishnupur Mela and has been added to honour the musical and dance heritage of the region, which some feel is not adequately accommodated in the Bishnupur Mela.

How to Reach Bishnupur

Bengali folk dance performed on Rabindra Sangeet
Bengali folk dance performed on Rabindra Sangeet
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The town of Bishnupur has its railway station, namely, Bishnupur Railway station, which is a junction on the Kharagpur-Bankura-Adra line and the Sheoraphuli-Bishnupur branch line.

By airways, the nearest airport from the town of Bishnupur is the Imphal Airport, which is at an approximate distance of the Bir Tikendrajit International Airport, which is at an approximate distance of 23 kilometres from Bishnupur. This airport is situated in the town of Imphal, the capital city of the state of Manipur. The closest airport from Bishnupur within West Bengal is the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport of Kolkata, which is at an approximate distance of 140 kilometres from Bishnupur.

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Bishnupur Mela
Bishnupur Mela

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