Belur Math

Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. It is one of the significant institutions in West Bengal. This temple is the heart of the Ramakrishna Movement. The temple is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. The 40-acre campus of the Belur Math on the banks of the Ganges includes temples dedicated to Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda, in which their relics are enshrined, and the main monastery of the Ramakrishna Order. The campus also houses a Museum containing articles connected with the history of Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Several educational institutions affiliated with the Ramakrishna Mission are situated in the vast campus adjacent to Belur Math. The Ramakrishna temple at the Belur Math is designed to “celebrate the diversity of Indian Religions” and resembles a temple, a mosque, a church if seen from different positions. The architectural style and symbolism from a number of religions have been incorporated into the design of the temple at Belur Math, to convey the “universal faith” in which the movement believes. The main entrance of the temple has a facade influenced by Buddhist style. The structure which rises over the entrance is modelled on the Hindu temples of South India with their lofty towers. The windows and balconies inside the temple draw upon the Rajput (Hindu) and Mughal (Islamic) style of north India. The central dome is derived from European architecture of the Renaissance period. The ground plan is in the shape of Christian cross.

A full-size statue of Sri Ramakrishna is seated on a hundred petalled lotus over a damaru shaped marble pedestal wherein the Sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna are preserved. The Swami Vivekananda Temple stands on the spot where Swami Vivekananda’s mortal remains were cremated in 1902. The holy mother’s temple is right at the entrance of Belur Math. The two-storeyed Ramakrishna Museum hosts artefacts used by Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and some of his disciples. The museum has a realistic recreation of the Panchavati—the clutch of five sacred trees of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple where Ramakrishna practised sadhana (spiritual disciplines).

The Belur Math conducts medical service, education, work for women, rural uplift and works among the labouring and backward classes, relief, spiritual and cultural activities. The centre also celebrates annual birthdays of Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Sarada Devi and other monastic disciples. The annual celebrations of Kumari Puja and Durga Puja are one of the main attractions. The tradition of Kumari puja was started by Vivekananda in 1901.

History: In January 1897, Swami Vivekananda arrived in Colombo with his small group of Western disciples. Two monasteries were founded by him, one at Belur, which became the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission and the other at Mayavati on the Himalayas, in Champawat District Uttarakhand called the Advaita Ashrama. These monasteries were meant to receive and train young men who would eventually become sannyasis of the Ramakrishna Mission and to give them a training for their work. The same year the philanthropic activity was started and relief of the famine was carried out. Swami Vivekananda’s days as a parivrajaka (wandering monk) before his visit to Parliament of Religions, took him through many parts of India and he visited several architectural monuments like the Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri palaces, Diwan–I–Khas, palaces of Rajasthan, ancient temples of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and other places. During his tour in America and Europe, he came across buildings of architectural importance of Modern, Medieval, Gothic and Renaissance styles. It is reported that Vivekananda incorporated these ideas into the design of the Belur Math temple. Swami Vijnanananda, a brother-monk of Swami Vivekananda and one of the monastic disciples of Ramakrishna, who was, in his pre-monastic life, a civil engineer, designed the temple according to the ideas of Vivekananda and Swami Shivananda, the then President of Belur Math laid the foundation stone on 16 May 1935. The massive construction was handled by Martin Burn & Co. The mission proclaims the Belur Math as, “A Symphony in Architecture”. *(All the above information are from Wikipedia.)

Transport:

Airport: The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International in Kolkata is located at a distance of 16.5 km from Belur Math.

Rail: Belur Math Railway station is located just beside the G.T. Road near the Math. The station is connected to Howrah station by train. Six trains run throughout the day between the stations. Howrah Station is well connected to almost all major cities across India.

Road: Belur Math is beside the famous G. T. Road which runs through the state. Multiple mini buses and other buses run from Belur Math to Howrah and Esplanade.

Ferry: Ferry services operate Launch boats and open boat to Dakshineshwar and Howrah jetty.

Local: Cycle rickshaws, Auto Rickshaws and Totos are available for local transport.

Tourist Interest:

Dakshineshwar Temple: The famous place of worship of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa is located very close to Belur Math.

Botanical Garden: Famous for the age old Banyan Tree, the Botanical Garden is located in Howrah and very close to Belur Math.

Santragacchi Jheel: This lake located very close to Santragacchi Railway station and approximately 6-7 km from Howrah station attracts a huge number of migratory birds during the winter month.

Tour Planner: All the places of interest are situated very close to one another and can be covered in a day.

Hotels: Online booking is always preferable for discounts in tariff. Hotels near Dakshineshwar are Air View Lodge, Kingston Boutique Hotel, Clark Inn Hotel, Hotel Saket and more.

Read My Journey to Belur Math.

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