The Rasmancha (Bengali: Raasmoncho) is a historical building located at Bishnupur, Bankura district, West Bengal, India.
It was commissioned by Mallabhum king Hambir Malla Dev (Bir Hambir) in 1600 CE. During the Vaishnava Ras festival, all the Radha Krishna idols of Bishnupur town used to be brought here to be worshipped by the citizens.
The annual festival was held till 1932 and then it was stopped.
TBI Heritage: The Little Known Oldest Brick Temple In India
We all feel proud when it comes to the rich heritage and culture of India. We can’t stop bragging about breathtaking monuments like The Taj Mahal, Qutub Minar, Meenakshi Temple and other such mind blowing monuments and temples.
But, there is much more in India, unexplored and unknown. Lets talk about lesser known heritage of India and the story behind them.
Rasmancha of Bishnupur in West Bengal is one such historical building. Established in 1600 AD by the King Hambhir, the Rasmancha was used to display all the local idols in public during the Ras Festival which stopped in 1932.
The popular festival has been shifted to grounds near a Durga temple.
Rasmancha temple stands on a raised square laterite plinth with a pyramidal superstructure. Three successive circumblatory galleries, The arches of which are decorated with terracotta lotus motifs.
Many images from the neighboring temples were brought at the time of Ras Festival and displayed in the galleries for the public.
The temple was created to celebrate ‘Ras’ festival, when every image, large or small, in the form of Deities was taken in here from each and every adjoining shrine or temple. They were arranged for exhibit to every individual during this event.
Similar architecture and building has not been found elsewhere in India and it is considered as the pride of Bishnupur for its unique shape. (source)
The interesting thing about the temple is that it has only a single chamber, the Sanctum Sanctorum, with an elongated tower, surrounded by hut shaped turrets.
A passageway surrounds it and some large cannons found here date back to the Malla period. (Source)
Rasmancha is the oldest brick temple and the only temple of its kind in the whole country.
Rasmancha is no more a temple today. It has now been converted into a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which is making sincere maintenance efforts on this masterpiece.
There are now lighting facilities and the delicate terracotta craftsmanship that is etched on each and every brick and wall of the Rasmancha is being carefully conserved.
Rasmancha Temple : History of Bishnupur Kingdom, West Bengal
Rasmancha with its unique Architectural manifestions was built by Bir Hamber is c. 1600 AD.
The Temple stands on a raised square laterite plinth with a pyramidal superstructure. Three successive circumblatory galleries, the arches of which are decorated with terracotta lotus motifs, enclose the Sanctum of the shrine.
During the Malla Regime, all the images from the neighboring temples were brought at the time of RAS Festival and displayed in the galleries for the public.
Its parallel has not been found elsewhere in India and it may be considered as the pride of Bishnupur for its unique shape.
It has a pyramidal summit, based upon a spacious Laterite platform. The internal chamber of the shrine is enclosed by three consecutive circumambulatory galleries and topped by a colossal pyramidal crown above.
The square foundation is 1.5m high, each side of which is 24.5m long and rises to a height of about 11m to reach a stage roof above.
The primary reason behind the creation of this mammoth structure was the celebration of the ‘Ras’ festival, when every image, large or small, in the form of Deities was taken in here from each and every adjoining shrine or temple.
The deities were arranged for exhibition to every individual during this event. This ritual was put into practice during the Malla Rule and now stands outdated, excepting the majesty and glory of those days that the Ras-Mancha reminds one of.
Maintenance of this significant masterpiece is being conducted earnestly by the ASI, providing lighting facilities and conserving the flimsy terracotta craftsmanship that is etched on each and every deliberate brick and wall of the Ras-Mancha.
The ASI charges Rs.5/- per head, for entry and maintenance of the Ras-Mancha, Jor-Bangla and Shyam-Ray Temples.