As its name suggests, Dakshineswar Kali Temple in West Bengal is a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess Kali, particularly Bhavatarini, one of her incarnations. According to legend, Rani Rashmoni had it constructed in the 19th century based on a dream. It is located on the banks of the Hooghly River, beside the Vivekananda Bridge. It is considered as one of the most sacred temples in Kolkata, as well as one of the largest, featuring 12 spires, a spacious courtyard, and has 12 smaller temples dedicated to Shiva. It is also the temple where the mystic and yogi Ramkrishna Paramhansa was said to have a vision that inspired him to preach about religious unity. Here’s our guide to Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata, to help you navigate your way through one of the most culturally significant places in the city.
Temple of Kali
The Temple of Kali was built following the traditional style of Bengal architecture called Nava-Ratna, in reference to the nine spires positioned in the upper two storeys and which can be accessed via a flight of stairs. Not to be missed in the temple is the sanctum sanctorum, which houses an idol of Kali standing on the chest of Shiva, both of which, in turn, are on a silver lotus said to bear a thousand petals. While the temple is dedicated to Kali, Rani Rashmoni’s intent was to welcome anyone, regardless of religion or caste, there.
Trivia: all idols in the temple were installed on 31 May 1855, which was said to have been an auspicious day (“snana-yatra”).
Twelve shrines of Shiva
Lining the temple are twelve identical shrines that are dedicated to Hindu Lord Shiva. The interiors are decorated with black and white stones.
There is also a small temple dedicated to Vishnu in the complex. Inside the sanctuary are idols of Krishna and Radha.
Located right in front of the temple of Kali, the Nat Mandir is a 16-pillared structure with an open hall that served as the venue for religious discourses and the singing of spiritual songs. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Shiva. According to legend, Ramkrishna Paramhansa used to pray here to Shiva before setting foot into the Kali Temple.
Some of the other places that you could find in the temple are the “Nahabat”, a chamber where the mystic Ramkrishna Paramhansa was said to have lived; a shrine in honor of Rani Rashmoni; and a bathing ghat. There is also a landscaped garden in the temple complex.
While there is strictly no imposed dress code here, those visiting the temple should dress conservatively. Be sure to take off your footwear before entering the temple. Backpacks and mobile phones also need to be deposited before entry. To be safe, don’t bring a large sum of money, since you may not be able to bring it with you inside.
There is no entrance fee here. However, you will need to pay a small amount to deposit your things before you enter the temple.
Photography is not allowed inside the temple.
If you wish, you can join the locals in taking a bath in the river. Do bring a change of clothes though.
Best time to visit
If you’re a tourist visiting to see the sights in the temple, try to go here early in the morning, so you can beat the heat. Allot at least two hours to explore this temple. On the other hand, if you’re a pilgrim, evening is the best time to go here, so you can witness the Sandhya aarti. Tuesdays and Saturdays are the best days for you to visit if you’re on a pilgrimage, as these are said to be the best days to pray to Kali. Do note, however, that the temple tends to be filled with people on those days.
If you want to give some offerings at the temple, there’s a flower shop right across from it where you can buy some.
Food and drinks
If you can be satisfied with a light snack, there are stalls outside the temple that sell refreshments. Otherwise, there are restaurants within the vicinity, where you can enjoy a full meal.
There are also stalls outside that sell Hindu religious items.
How to get there
The closest airport to the temple is Kolkata Airport, which is about a 40-minute drive by car.
Take the train that goes to Dankuni from Sealdah and get off at the Dakshineshwar station. The temple is already within walking distance from there.
There are buses that go directly to the temple from the Esplanade terminal.
By cab or car rental
Cabs are available in the area. Alternatively, you can also rent a car, if you want to have more control over your movements while you’re on your holiday here. There are parking spaces available near the temple.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata information
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata
Address: May Dibas Pally, Dakshineswar, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700076, India
Opening hours: Oct - Mar: 6am - 12:30 pm, 3pm - 8:30pm; Apr - Sep: 6am - 12:30pm, 3:30pm - 9pm
Price: Free entry
Official website: Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Department of tourism: West Bengal tourism board
News and updates: The legend of Dakshineswar kali temple in Kolkata | Dakshineswar temple to get a walkway
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