Mahesh today, remains a centre of Jagannath worship, and is home to the second oldest “Rath Yatra” or car festival in India, after Puri. 15th century poet Bipradas Pipilai who is known as one of the contributors to the “Manasamangal” genre and for having written many of the stories of “Chand Saudagar” first mentioned Mahesh (pronounced as Maa-hesh). His descriptions of Mahesh are probably from around 1495. The area was probably under the rule of Oriya Kings, and as Lord Jagannath was the royal family’s deity of choice, it found acceptance among subjects here.
The story goes that Dhrubananda Brahmachari, a devout man of Mahesh had travelled to Puri Jagannath Temple to worship Lord Jagannath. It was his desire to give the deity “bhog” with his own hands, but this was prevented by the temple authorities. But right after this debacle, broken-hearted Drubananda decided to fast until death. On the third day, he heard the Lord’s voice in his dream, “Drubananda, go back to Bengal. At the bank of Bhagirathi, you will find a place called Mahesh. There I shall send you a huge Daru-Brahma (Neem trunk). Make Balarama, Subhadra and my Idol with this trunk. I am eager to have ‘Bhoga’ in your hand.” So Drubanada returned to Mahesh and started his Sadhana. Then in a scary rainy night, that Daru-Brahma appeared at Mahesh. He jumped into the water and received it. Dhrubananda had the idols carved out. These idols were that of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balarama, and sister, Subhadra. They were installed in the original Mahesh temple which dates back to 1397. But this temple is no longer in existence.
No one knows what happened to the original temple,but the present temple in Mahesh was built in 1755 and cost around Rs. 20,000. This money was donated by Nayanchand Mallik of Pathuriaghata of Calcutta. The original three idols were left by Dhrubananda Brahmachari to his disciple, Kamalkar Pipilai. The “shebaits” of the temple came to be known as “Adhikari”. When they gave shelter to a Nawab of Bengal in a severe storm, the grateful Nawab gifted them a piece of revenue-free land in Mahesh.
There was a theft at the Mahesh temple in the early hours of the 22nd of January 2014, and the gold ornaments of the idols, along with silver utensils in which bhog was served, were stolen.
How to reach the temple - Serampore is well connected to Kolkata by railways and by road. It takes a little more than 30 minutes to travel to the town by car, while local buses and trains ply at regular intervals from Kolkata. Mithila Express, Doon Express, and Amritsar Express are some of the long distance trains that travel via Serampore to Kolkata.
The residents of Serampore usually travel to Kolkata for work and education on a daily basis. Both the rail and bus fares are economical and do not exceed Rs 100. Cars for hire and taxis are also available at approximately Rs 200 from Kolkata.
Important Facts on Lord Jagannath & Rath Yatra
Hera panchami – The Grand Fight Between Lord Jagannath And Laxmi
Suna Besa Of Lord Jagannath (The Gold Avatar Of God)
Address: Mahesh Colony, Serampore, West Bengal 712202, India