Bhadreswar is a small district town of Hooghly, West Bengal in India, named after Bhadreswar Tala Temple, a 500 years old Shiva temple. Shiva dwells here in the phallic figure. According to the folklore, the phallic of Lord Shiva said to have come to the surface without human intervention at the Treta Yuga when Lord Vishnu incarnated as Rama. Centuries ago this area was under the water of River Hooghly and it remained mostly covered by the forest. The landscape what you see in the photograph has emerged only after the river receded and drifted its route.
In 1795, the East India Company formed Hooghly as the District and developed this place as an industrial belt. People from far off villages and the states had flocked in for the living and got colonised.
The inhabitants discovered this Shiva Linga around the 18th century. The message spread across like wildfire and reached to the ear of the then Maharaja of Burdwan (name not known). Since the territory belonged to him, he sent his men and erected a small temple here. Thereafter, the temple was left without any maintenance and it wore a dilapidated look. Several years after, a stern devotee of Lord Shiva, Sakhi Bala Das took the initiative and renovated it. The marvellously architected temple what you see today is her souvenir. Sakhi was a childless widow. She was the daughter of Shyam Sunder Mondal, a wealthy business person, who invested his riches for laying the railway lines in Bhadreswar for the goods train service.
In those days hardly anything got documented, hence, the historical facts remained unspecified. Almost everything executed by hearsay, which included the history of this temple.
“Lord Shiva is sitting in the trance and maintains a low profile. The Lord himself expressed his view over a dream to the priest of yesteryear (my ancestors),” said Gangadhar Mishra, an 80-year-old ‘Sevayeth’ and the present priest of the temple, traditionally performing the service to the Lord since his childhood. Being the oldest temple, why hasn’t it been included under the 12-Jyotirlinga category? Mishra replied that nobody from this temple body had represented to the Dwadas (12) Jyotirlingas Committee in Varanasi for tagging this temple as one of the Jyotirlinga. “Baba forbade us, he loves to stay in ‘Dhyannast’ (in trance),” added Mishra. There is a visible crack mark on Shiva Linga, a rare sight, what does it signify? Responding to the crack marks on the top this phallic; Mishra continued that there was an interesting tale about it. Long ago a sanyasi (saint) visited this temple. The phallic had a precious gemstone called ‘Manick’ on the top of it. Greed overpowered the sanyasi after seeing that gemstone. He uprooted the gemstone with the help of a trident and fled. The sanyasi could hardly reach the bank of river Ganga to sail off, but the villagers heard him growling with pain “jole geylum, pure geylum” (I went into the burn) and later he drowned in the river. After this incident, people named this quay as Manik Nagar Ghat. “However, the gemstone couldn’t be recovered since then and the phallic bears this look,” Mishra updated. According to Charles Joseph, a British tourist mentioned Bhadreswar Tala as one of the ancient temples of Lord Shiva that came into view from the soil naturally. And one may also find reference of Bhadreswar Nath in the ‘Shiva Purana’.