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Roof of Kesto Rai Temple, Bishnupur
Roof of Kesto Rai Temple, Bishnupur

Around 695 AD, one Khastriya King during his travel was forced to stay in a Brahmin’s house residing at a village named Lau due to the ill health of his expecting wife. This village was located near Kotulpur of today’s Bankura district of West Bengal. The King‘s wife delivered a child and died. The remorseful king surrendered his infant child to the Brahmin as his guardian and left the place. The child grew up to excel on every spheres of life and went to become the first Malla King – Adi Malla and established the Malla Kingdom. After 300 years the kingdom was shifted by one of his descendents. The new Kingdom’s name was Bishnupur. It is said that this descendant named Jagat Malla was inspired by divine intervention to build up a temple of Goddess Mrinmoyee at Bishnupur and shift the kingdom there.

King Bir Hambhir

Bishnupur shot into fame during the rule of Malla King – Bir Hambhir the 49th Malla King (1586-1621). He was friendly with Mughals and took their side in their battle with Afghans. However after his interaction with Vaishnav guru Srinivas Acharya, Bir Hambir become his disciple. This incident resulted in a revolutionary change in Bishnupur and the Malla Kingdom became a hub of Baishnab culture. After a tour of Vrindavan with his guru, the King built started building up Baishnab structures and temples which was followed by his descendants which evidently turned Bishnupur into the most talked about temple town of Bengal.