Kolkata, the city of joy has always been my favourite as I am a typical Bengali. Kolkata I feel has soul, its beauty lies in its rich culture. During one of my vacations in the city, after having a mouth-watering meal of luchi (Puri) and aloor dum (potato curry) my morning started with the discussion with my cousins as to which place to visit that particular day.
After considering number of sights we decided to visit the largest temple of Kolkata which is Dakshineshwar- the famous temple of Goddess Kali. We took a taxi and reached the temple which is situated alongside the river Ganga. The main shrine in the temple complex is known as the Navratna temple and the deity worshipped in the temple is called Ma Bhavatarini (a form of Goddess Kali). This temple is also famous for its association with the great spiritual Saint Lord Ramakrishna.
Dakshineswar temple was founded in 1855 by Queen Rashmoni when Goddess Kali appeared in her dream in the night before she was due to start on a pilgrimage to Benaras. She fulfilled the wish of her husband who wanted to construct a Kali Temple in his estate but died before he could fulfill his desire. Since the Queen was from a low caste Hindu family she faced many hurdles in installing the goddess Kali along with other deities.
Finally on an auspicious day of 31st May 1855, the idols of Mother Kali was installed with presence of more than 1 lakh Brahmin pundits from all over India. The Queen graced the occasion standing from a distance as she had no authority to enter the temple and offer food to the invited Brahmins. She believed that this temple should be made free for all irrespective of their cast and creed. One can see her wish fulfilled now when we find lakhs of visitors coming to the temple everyday without any racial discrimination and enjoy its peaceful ambience in presence of the beautiful river Mother Ganga.
While touring the temple we saw that its compound has a large courtyard with twelve shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. Each of the shrine worships twelve different forms of Lord Shiva. The architecture followed by the temple is the nine spires style, which is typical of West Bengal architecture. Also there is a temple of Lord Radha Krishna , a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni called ‘Nahavat-Khana’ and a chamber where priest Ramakrishna stayed.
While touring the temple we learnt that one of the most prominent festivals of this temple is Navratri which is dedicated to Goddess Durga and off course Durga Puja and Goddess Kali Puja festivals which are being held with much grandeur and elegance.
Our visit to the temple was complete when we headed in a boat towards the temple of Adya Ma. Those visiting Dakshineshwar kali temple know that the visit is not complete without offering prayers at the temple of Adya Ma which is just 2 kms away.
Now at the end of the day I had a heart which was content with the glimpse of Goddess Kali , blessings which I carried with myself and with the desire to visit the temple again on my next encounter with the city.
– Suparna De
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