The sacred temple of Dakshineshwar is located on the bank of river Hooghly (a tributary of River Ganges, traditionally called the Ganges) in a town named Dakshineshwar, in West Bengal. The temple was founded by Rani Rashmoni – a wealthy, benevolent and a dynamic woman who took over the administration of the estate after her husband’s death. Rani Rashmoni on her way for a pilgrimage to Banaras had a dream of the Divine Mother in the form of goddess Kali. In her dream, she had the vision to construct a temple on the bank of river Ganges and install a statue, to worshipped.
Thus the temple with its large compound came into existence. The sanctum sanctorum is a nine-spired temple surrounded by a large paved courtyard. Walls with adjoining rooms encircle the courtyard. By the riverfront, there are twelve shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva with different names. To the north-west corner, beyond the last Shiva temple is the ‘Nahabat-Khana’, the room of Sri Ramkrishna, which is now a meditation hall. The temple also comprises of the bathing ghat, individual shrines dedicated to Rani Rashmoni and Devi Sarada, temple of Radha Krishna and Ram Lala.
Located very close to my native home yet no frequent visits. I was determined to make it happen on my visit to Kolkata this time. To avoid the heavy rush early morning visit on weekdays are best. So we selected a Monday morning for the visit. As expected there were few devotees gathered to pay a visit to the temple.
The ‘Singhadwar’ (the main entrance guarded by lions) lead us to the temple area. We purchased the offerings for the puja from the ‘Dala Arcade’ built on one side of the temple. We deposited our mobile phones and other bags in the counter beside, in exchange of token, did the security checking and entered the temple premises.
We were behind the queue of few devotees. The darshan and the rituals of puja did not take much time. After the darshan of the Goddess, we visited all the other shrines of Shiva, Krishna, Ramkrishna and Sarada Devi. The bathing ghat had regular local visitors, who come for a dip daily to start their day in a pious way. Some of the occasional visitors like us, sprinkled the holy water of Ganges on themselves, while others embraced the opportunity to wash away their sins by taking a holy dip in the holy river.
Now our empty stomach guided us to the eateries nearby. These food joints since ages serve the same menu of puri, dal and a few variety of sweets. Surprisingly the age-old menu satisfies the fasting devotees even today. These eateries are a favourite among the foodies in Bengal. We too took part in this food festival of puri, dal and rajbhogs, the elder brother (in terms of size) of the famous Bengali sweet – Rasogolla.
We took a leisurely walk around the green surrounding of the temple beside the bulging Ganges. The monsoon and the high tide together gave it a bulge. While the monsoon added to water carried mud and silts to give it a murkier look. The piousness and the beauty of the place filled our soul with the eternal feeling of sanctity. This was above all worldly feeling of greed, violence, inequality – A sense of divine peace.
This is what the great Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa preached the world – the mantra of equality and the art of attaining salvation through mediation. His conversation and activities are recorded in a five volume holy scripture named, Sri Sri Ramkrishna Kathamrita (The nectar of Sri Ramkrishna’s Words).
On our way back we took a stroll towards the jetty. It operates regular ferry services to Belur Math and Howrah. The beautifully renovated jetty welcomed us to enter and have a better view. Then we made a sudden plan to take the arriving ferry to visit the Belur Math. Ah ha! An icing on the cake. A sacred journey to be completed in more divine and peaceful way.