Rani Bhabani, born in 1716 and widowed at 32, became a legend for her administrative ability. Driven by religion, she planned to build a Varanasi in Bengal. From 1755, a huge complex with over a dozen temples was built in Baronagar. Many have since been reduced to dust, but a few still stand strong, a testament to the past glory of Bengal.
One of the magnificent structures is the Panchanan Shiva temple on the Ganga embankment. Small and red, it has a unique Shivalingam ? five heads of Shiva carved on black stone. The temple houses a beautiful garden with a breathtaking riverside view.
The main attraction of Baronagar is the Charbangla mandir complex. Built in 1760 by Rani Bhabani, this is a small square arena fenced by four massive temples. Each one is built on a 1.5-ft high foundation and is dochala hut-shaped, a fine example of Bengal architecture. Each temple has three doors with three Shivalingams inside.
The magic of these temples is on their walls, embellished with beautiful terracotta work. The Ramayana is wonderfully sculpted. This is unique among terracotta temples in Bengal. Hindu motifs are also visible.
The temples had a narrow escape in December 1992, when a mob stormed the complex after the Babri Masjid demolition.
Another temple with a unique shape is in the north-west part of the Charbangla complex. The Bhabaneshwari temple of Baronagar is a masterpiece in distinctive Murshidabadi style. Built in 1755, it is 18-m high with a massive dome on top and decorated with fresco works, both inside and outside.