India’s temple map is very unique. All are steeped in antiquity. And full of architecture and crafting skills of artisans. My son was in Kolkata during the first week of this New Year. So, a religious cum venture trip was planned on New Year’s Day. We all decided that we would go to Dakshineswar Kali Temple situated alongside the river Ganga (Hooghly) of Vivekananda Bridge north of Calcutta about 22 Km from BBD Bag and 40Km from Kudghat Bus terminus where our house is situated.
I debated for a while on how to go to the temple. As you know that talking about the local transport, Kolkata city may be one of the rare cities in India and for that matter in the world that offers you so many options: local metro, trams, ferry, buses, taxis or the typical ancient style hand-pulled rickshaws (that are still very much part of the cityscape). Finally we decide to board a local bus and then a river ferry to reach the-I -Dakshineswar temple-Kolkata.
After reaching a certain point by road when I stepped in to the local crude motor ferry boat to reach Dakshineshwar the cool river breeze continue to fascinate me and it was so refreshing to mind and body. While I was charting along the riverside route I could locate some very beautiful may be some of the largely ignored upstream gem of sites along the river Hooghly.
Finally when I reached the temple destination I was encircled by self appointed religious touts asking me to buy temple offerings from their shop. Of course I did not oblige and walked towards the temple. The temple is dedicated to goddess Kali. A narrow covered verandah serves the purpose of an audience-chamber attached to the sanctum where the goddess Dakshina Kali stands on the breast of Shiva. Since the sanctum sanctorum is situated in a small room and circumambulation is difficult. Unlike, as one can observe in temples in Southern part of India.
The construction of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple was done between in 1847 and 1855, covering an area of about 25 acres. Queen Rasmani the renowned queen of Janbazar had founded this temple. It is one of the largest temples of Kolkata . (Hindu Temples)
Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the world famous spiritual GURU has also associated with this temple as a priest and finally achieved here his spiritual vision. His meditation room is open to the visitors.
The main temple’s vast courtyard is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The respective twelve Sivalingas in the Dakshineswar temple are – Yogeswar, Jatneswar, Jatileswar, Nakuleswar, Nakeswar, Nirjareswar, Nareswar, Nandiswar, Nageswar, Jagadiswar, Jaleswar and Yajneswar
No visit to Dakshineswar is complete without offering prayers at the Adya Ma temple just 2km away from the main temple at Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha Adyapeath which was commenced in the year1921. The dharshan at this temple is for a limited time. One should be there by 10 a.m. You can watch the one hour Puja and Arti and also have bhog (lunch),
Around the Dakshineswar main Temple entrance there are umpteen shops .A leisure theme park is also getting ready. The temple remains open from 6 AM to 1.00 PM and 3 00 PM to 8 30 or 9 00 PM. One can check up the exact time before planning the trip.
Visitors should not be missing any chance of tasting the mouth watering puchkas, churmur, Naleen gud sandesh and masala lemon tea, Luchis, pedas and jilabis sold in very small shops in not so clean environment around the temple area.
I did my share of shopping at the small shops around the temple by buying “Bamboo sprout” and Kjoor (date fruit) pickle, pack of rosogullahs, gulabjamans and a bag full of souvenirs and said goodbye to Dakshineswar located near the city of joy with fond memories.