Visit to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple

It was dusk and darkness had begun to fall. We walked along with our guide along a narrow path from the Belur Math which we had just visited, to the bank of the river Hooghly. Our plan was to take a boat to the Dakshineshwar Kali temple. Dakshineshwar is a locality in the outskirts of Kolkata in the district of North 24 Parganas.

I imagined a scenic ride sitting on a boat with a pleasant breeze on our animated eager faces. I came out of my reverie, hearing the guide Anirban say, “Quick, let us walk faster. The boat is just leaving the shore” I saw the large ferry which was jam packed with people and there seemed to be no space for the 4 of us. But Anirban insisted we board as this was the last one! So we squeezed in and became part of the 75 fellow riders. Thankfully a good Samaritan seeing Amma, he vacated his seat and gave it to her. The one-hour ride was sure enough scenic. Tried to understand the snatches of animated conversations all around in Bengali, but could not understand a word. So just enjoyed the musicality of the language while my eyes took in the scene rushing past. We saw so many intriguing buildings on the way with bathing ghats/steps which led into the river water. A few people were praying, after all the Hooghly is a distributary of the Holy Ganges. On the other side of the boat a group was singing bhajans. The atmosphere was festive as well as divine.

After we alighted the boat a walk bridge took us all to the Dakshineshwar Kali temple complex. The view from the bridge of the lit temple tower was stunning. A path with interesting shops on either side beckoned us to buy..but we controlled ourselves, did not give in to temptation and reached the temple complex.

Rani Rashmoni

The beautiful temple which houses Ma Kali was built by Rani Rashmoni, a zamindar’s wife after a dream just before her trip to Benares affected her that she acquired this 20 acre land which resembled a hump of a tortoise. One part of the land originally belonged to a European Christian and the other part was a muslim burial ground. She began constructing this temple in 1847 thus bringing in various faiths together. Sri Ramakrishna’s elder brother Ramkumar Chattopadhya was appointed as the Head Priest and he installed the main idol Ma Kali in a grand ceremony on 31st May 1855. Ramkumar passed away within a year leaving his responsibility to his brother Sri Ramakrishna. Under his 3 decades of leadership the temple grew in popularity and ardent devotees started thronging in from across the nation. Rani Rashmoni lived for 5 years after the construction of the temple and she breathed her last only after handing over the property which she had purchased as a legacy to maintain the temple.

Ma Kali

The place is very neat and maintained very well. A huge mural of Sri Ramakrishna greeted us.

It was Diwali on the day we visited so it’s a Bengali tradition to visit the Kali temple on this auspicious day. So the Q was quite long. But well worth the wait. Felt blessed.

The Kali called Bavatharini  is made of black stone with four arms. Her right arm has a Abhaya Mudra and her left hand is a symbol of slayer of evil. Her face is mesmerizing with a third eye and her tongue out. Below her feet is her consort Lord Shiva. A judicious mix of aggression and compassion.

No mobiles and handbags are allowed in the premises and there is a safety locker to deposit them.

The temple also houses smaller temples housing 12 shiva lingams as well as a Radha Krishna temple where Sri Ramakrishna performed Pooja here daily.

The temple architecture follows the Navarathna style. 9 spires are present in 3 roofs. When we visited it was dark already and the spires were well lit. It was a spectacular sight.

Temple Timings

The temple timings change during summer and winter months. Between October and March, the temple is open from 6:00 a.m to 12.30 p.m in the day and from 3:00 p.m to 8:30 pm in the evening.

Between April and September, the temple is open from 6 a.m to 12.30 p.min the day and 3:30 p.m to 9:00 pm in the evening.

During special occasions, like Durga Puja and Kali Puja, the timings vary and the temple is open longer.

After the darshan, thankfully the guide had requested the driver to bring the car over to this side, so we did not do the boat ride back while returning.

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