Dakshineshwar

Dakshineshwar is a town under Kamarhati Municipality in Barackpore subdivision of the city Kolkata in West Bengal. This place is famous for the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple situated on the eastern bank of Hooghly River. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali in the form of Bhabatarini, one who liberates the devotees from the worldly ties of existence. The temple was built by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali in 1855. The temple is famous for its association with Ramakrishna, a mystic of 19th Century Bengal.

History: The Dakshineswar Kali Temple was founded around the middle of the 19th Century by Rani Rashmoni. Rani Rashmoni was a Mahishya by caste and was well known for her philanthropic activities. In the year 1847, Rashmoni prepared to go on a long pilgrimage to the sacred Hindu city of Kashi to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. The night before the pilgrimage began, Rashmoni had a vision of the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali in a dream and reportedly said – “There is no need to go to Banaras. Install my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the Ganges river and arrange for my worship there. Then I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship at that place.” Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani immediately looked for and purchased a 20-acred plot in the village of Dakshineswar. The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855.

Ramkumar Chottopadhyay was appointed the head priest later joined by his younger brother Gadadhar Chottopadhyay (known as Sri Ramkrishna). Ramkrishna Paramahamsa born was born on 18th February 1836 in the village of Kamarpukur. Ramkrishna’s parents experienced supernatural incidents and visions before his birth. Although Ramkrishna attended a village school with some regularity for 12 years, he later rejected the traditional schooling saying that he was not interested in a “bread-winning education”. He attained spiritual knowledge from many renowned sages and saint at an early age. He had the knowledge of all religious scriptures. To return his attention to normal affairs of life other than the spiritual practices, he was married to the five-year-old bride Saradamoni Mukhopadhyay (later known as Sarada Devi). Sarada Devi joined Sri Ramkrishna in Dakshineshwar at the age of 18, by then he already embraced the monastic life of a sanyasi. As a priest, Ramakrishna performed the ritual ceremony—the Shodashi Puja–where Sarada Devi was made to sit in the seat of goddess Kali and worshipped as the Divine mother. Ramakrishna regarded Sarada as the Divine Mother in person, addressing her as the Holy Mother, and it was by this name that she was known to Ramkrishna’s disciples (Swami Vivekananda is one among them). Sarada Devi outlived Ramakrishna by 34 years and played an important role in the nascent religious movement.

Architecture: Built in the traditional ‘Nava-Ratna’ or nine spires style of Bengal architecture, the three-storeyed south-facing temple has nine spires distributed in upper two storeys, and stands on a high platform with a flight of stairs, overall it measures 14 m square and rises over 30 m high. The garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) houses an idol of goddess Kali, known as Bhabataraini, standing on the chest of a lying Shiva, and the two idols are placed on a thousand-petaled lotus made of silver. Close to the main temple are the row of twelve identical Shiva temples built facing the east in the typical aat-chala Bengal architecture, they are built on either side of the ghat on the Hoogly river. To the Northeast of the Temple Complex is the Vishnu Temple or the Radha Kanta’s Temple. A flight of steps lead to the columned verandah and into the temple where a silver throne rests with a 211⁄2-inch (550 mm) idol of Lord Krishna and a 16-inch (410 mm) idol of Radha.

Transport:

Airport: The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International in Kolkata is located at a distance of 12.5 km from Dakshineshwar.

Rail: Dakshineshwar railway station is located on the Sealdah – Dankuni sector. Many local and express trains pass through this line. The nearest metro station of Noapara is well connected to the major part of Kolkata through the Metro Railways.

Road: Dakshineshwar is well connected to Kolkata by the major Barrackpore Trunk Road and many other roads connecting to places around. The Vivekananda and Nivedita Bridge across the Hooghly river are connected to the GT Road which leads to major cities across India.

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

Tourist Interest:

Dakshineshwar Kali Temple: This place is famous for the Bhabatarini Kali Temple and the mystic Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa.

Sarada Devi Math: Located very close to the Kali Temple is the Temple of Devi Sharada. The temple architecture holds some resemblance to the Belur Math.

Adyapith Temple: Another renowned temple of great religious importance locate very close to the Dakshineshwar Temple.

Belur Math: Belur Math is located close to Dakshineshwar Temple, on the other bank of the river Ganges.

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 Dakshineshwar.

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