The ancient capital of Mallabhum, Bishnupur, is a repository of some excellent terracotta temples. The brick temples at Bishnupur, built between the 17th and 18th centuries when terracotta had reached its zenith under the Malla kings, are located in the ruined fort area and its neighborhood.
The history of Bishnupur can be traced back to AD 694. The period before this is shrouded in mystery. King Raghunath I founded the Malla dynasty in AD 694. However, it was much later in AD 994 that the place was named Bishnupur. The name is derived from 'Vishnu', the majority of people belonging to the 'Vaishnava' sect.
Bishnupur has a glorious past that is reflected in its rich architecture, music and handicrafts such as pottery and weaving. It prospered in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Ruled by an uninterrupted line of Hindu Rajas of the Malla dynasty, Bishnupur developed a unique form of architecture and has perhaps the most brilliant and detailed terracotta work in Eastern India that has withstood the ravages of time.

Located in the Bankura district of West Bengal, it takes about five hours to drive down from Calcutta. The landscape is gently undulating and dotted with sal (Shorea robusta; a tall timber tree) and mahua (Bassia latifolia; a common shade tree), the fine red soil lending it own beauty to the place.