Situated on the eastern banks of Hoogly River, in the Dakshineswar region near Kolkata is this ancient Kali Temple. The presiding deity is called Bhavatarini who is one of the aspects of Kali. Bhavatarini means ‘She who liberates her devotees from the ocean of reality’ i.e. Samsara.
The temple is known to have built by a philanthropist and a devotee of Goddess Kali – Rani Rashmoni in the year 1855. It dwells in a large courtyard fenced with strong boundary walls. Alongside the riverfront are twelve shrines that are dedicated to Lord Shiva along with a Radha-Krishna Temple. There’s also a bathing ghat near the river which is dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. Beyond the last temples of Lord Shiva is Nahavat Khana where Ramakrishna is known to have spent considerable time of his life.
The Nava-Ratna style of architecture is incorporated in the construction of the temple. It is three-storeyed temple that faces towards the south. It has a pretty high platform. Overall it measures 46 feet (14 m) square and rises over 100 feet (30 m) high. The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of the goddess, also called Bhavatarini.
HOW TO REACH
Nearest Airport: The Nearest Airport is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata which is 12 KM away from Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
Nearest Railway Station: The Nearest Railway Station is Sealdah Railway Station Junction which is 1 KM away from Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
Road Ways: The city of joy is well linked with almost all the cities of India by road.
History of Dakshineswar Kali Temple
In the early phase of 1800s, Dakshineswar was a mere village, which nestled along the eastern bank of the Ganges River. Dense forest surrounded the area. It is said that Rani Rashmoni of Janbazar, while on her pilgrimage to Varanasi, had a dream, where she was instructed to built a Kali temple. Rani Rashmoni was quite a dynamic woman, who was highly respected and adorned by her people. She was intensely moved by the dream and to materialize it, she instructed her people to search for suitable plots to erect the Kali Temple. After a long hunt for land, eventually a 20-acre plot was selected in the village of Dakshineswar. A part of the land belonged to the European Christian, whereas the other part was a Muslim burial ground. In the year 1847AD, under the patronage of Rani Rashmoni, the construction of Dakshineswar Temple was initiated on this very site, signifying the unity of different faiths.
It was decided that the idols of the Gods and the Goddess would be installed on the auspicious day of the ‘snana-yatra’. The temple of Dakshineswar is dedicated to Sri Sri Jagadiswari Kalimata Thakurani. Rani Rashmoni was very benevolent and she wished that pilgrims of all religions and castes would be allowed to offer prayer at the temple. Rani survived only for five years and nine months after the temple was inaugurated. She fell seriously ill in 1861. Realizing that her days are numbered, she handed over a property that she bought at Dinajpur as a legacy for the maintenance of the temple to the temple trust. She passed on 18th February, 1861.
The construction of Dakshineswar temple was initiated in 1847 and it was completed in 1855. The estimated cost of the construction was Rs. 9 Lakhs, of which Rs. 2 Lakhs was spent on the very day of inauguration. The temple along with its abiding areas spans 25 acres of land, which makes Dakshineswar temple one of the biggest temples in Kolkata. The main temple premise is around 46 sq ft. Dakshineswar temple was built in the traditional ‘Nava-ratna’ or nine spires style of Bengal architecture. The roof of the temple spires have been grooved artistically with a striking resemblance with the Pirhas. The temple sports a colossal, elongated structure, resting on a high platform with a flight of stairs. It is a three-story, south-faced temple. The nine spires of the temple are distributed in upper two stories. A narrow covered verandah has been erected, which serves as an audience-chamber and it is attached to the sanctum, which houses the goddess Dakshina Kali. A huge spacious Natmandir (Dancing hall) has been erected in front of the temple.
The Garbha Griha houses the deity of goddess Kali, famously known as Bhavataraini. The idol stands on the chest of Lord Shiva, who rests in a lying posture. The two idols stand beautifully on a thousand-petal lotus, made of silver. This colossal temple of Kali is renowned as one of the rare temples of Indian origin.
This Kali Temple in Dakshineswar is very much associated with Sri Ramakrishna Pramhans, as he was one of the earliest priests of the temple. His room, which nestles at the temple premise, can be accessed by all devotees, who visit the temple.
Tuesdays and Saturdays are believed as auspicious day for Kali worship. On both these days, there is a huge congregation of devotees at the Dakshineswar temple. The Sandhya Aarti is the prime attraction of devotees, which is truly amazing.
Temples of Shiva – The premise of the Dakshineswar temple is admired with twelve identical temples of Shiva. The temples have been erected just opposite to the Kuthi Bari and they nestle close to the banks of River Ganges. The interiors of the Shiva temples are adorned with white and black stone. Each of the temple houses beautiful Shiva Lingas, done in black stone. All these Shiva temples are east facing and they have been erected following the typical ‘Aat Chala’ Bengal architecture. The series of the Shiva temples are divided by Chadni (River bank). Six temples rest at the right of the bank, whereas the other six to the right.
Vishnu Temple – At the north east side of the Dakshineswar temple complex, lies the Vishnu Temple or the Radha Kanta’s Temple. A flight of stairs will lead you inside the temple. The temple houses a 21 and half inches idol of Lord Krishna and 16 inches idol of Radha. It is said that Sri Ramkrishna himself used to perform puja at this temple.
The Panchavati garden, a congregation of five ancient trees, located in close proximity to the Dakshineswar Temple is nicely landscaped and is well maintained by the temple committee. It is said that Sri Ramakriahna used to meditate at this very site.
Tipu Sultan Palace
It was constructed in the year 1832 by Prince Ghulam Muhammad. The intention behind it was to create an Islamic Architectural marvel which would be remembered for a long time in the world. And even today, the palace is very popular.
It is an artificial lake that was dug in the 1920s by Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT). It is the only national lake of the city and is spread over an area of 48 hectares.