Dakineshwar Kali Temple And Belur Math, Kolkata
November 19, 2009
If you are looking for an opportunity to immerse your wayward soul into the never depleting ocean of devotion, then Dakineshwar Kali temple is an ideal place. This is one of the largest temple structures of Kolkata city. This marvelous temple is a delight to the eyes whether you view it while driving down the Hoogly Bridge or taking a ferryride on the Ganges. Many people prefer to take a boatride and reach here while others can enjoy a forty-five minutes drive from the centre of the city.
Rani Rasmani is the founder of this temple and the thought of building this temple came upon to her in a dream. She regularly travelled by boat to the sacred city of Benaras or Varanasi to seek the Goddess’s blessing there. One night prior to her scheduled visit to Varanasi, Goddess Kali appeared to her in a dream and instructed her to build a temple on the banks of the river Ganga. She said that she would manifest herself in this idol and accept Rani Rasmani’s devotional service.
The temple grounds are well-organized, with ample parking space at nominal charges. As you step into the temple compound, your attention will be forcefully diverted by enthusiastic vendors selling garlands of fresh hibiscus flowers and offering baskets. An offering basket consists of pedas or sweatmeats, a box of sindoor or vermilion, incense sticks, a red chunari or netted veil and flowers. After my purchase, I walked to the main entrance. Security personnel were considerate and didn’t really dig into the contents of my bag but requested that I switch off my cell phone and refrain from taking any pictures.
The arena as I stepped inside was magnificient. On my right were arrays of 12 smaller individual temples of Lord Shiva. The left side had a small queue that I joined quickly. As I reached to the top of the stairs, I saw that it was the place where offerings were being taken. I gave my offerings and stepped out to find the main entrance. I was waiting in anticipation for many years to see how Goddess Kali appeared to the mortals here. It was the adjoining stairway and there were around twenty people ahead of me. Opposite the shrine, there was a huge hall where devotees sat, deep in devotion. Some silently gazed at the Goddess, some chanted prayers, while others rotated their prayers beads. Soon it was my turn.
The Goddess’s eyes were spellbinding. One glance at Her and I was dumbfounded. She was dressed in rich, red saree, a lot of jewelry and a crown, with layers and layers of flower garlands. Soon, it was my time to move ahead and give a chance to others. I walked to the prayer hall, stood on my toes to get a final glimpse of the divine Mother.
Next, I went up to the twelve Shivalings/ Shiva Lingams. Each of the Lord Shiva idols was placed in individual temples. Adjoining to this area, were steps leading to the river Ganges. Most people were taking water from here and offering it to Lord Shiva. By the time, I finished bowing and praying to the twelve Shiva Lingams, the queue had almost reached to the entrance. So the best time to visit this temple is in early part of the morning before 10:00 am.
Adjacent to the exit, there was a narrow lane where there were small shops selling everything that you ever needed to setup a shrine in your own home. Idols of all gods and goddesses were available in all sizes. The pictures don’t do justice to the amount of things that they have stored with them.
After an hour of shopping here, I headed to Belur Math. This was around 10 minutes drive from Dakisheshwar temple. Belur Math was founded by Swami Vivekananda, the disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. Sri Ramakrishna is always remembered as one of the few divine souls whose ardent devotion pleased the goddess Kali with so much fervor that she appeared to him daily. He served her meals and She actually sat and ate in front of him. Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was the head priest at Dakineshwar temple.
Belur Math expelled a sense of serenity and created a feeling of calmness as I stepped into their enormous grounds. The visitors are requested to leave their footwear at the entrance counter. A board had a detailed layout of all the buildings listed in the ground. The area was beautifully maintained with flower gardens. Visitors were closely monitored by security guards. Signboards at every corner, informed that photography was strictly prohibited.
The first large hall that I walked into was that of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. He was made of marble and was truly life-like. His shrine was intricately decorated with fresh flowers and its fragrance refreshed the sultry air. The enormous hall could accommodate around 200 devotees together. The next section was a shrine of his wife Sharada Devi. Her large photograph was ornamented with white flowers.
The gardens surrounding every shrine were very inviting and I saw most of the visitors were enjoying their time lazying around in the well-trimmed grass, while others like me curiously went from one structure to the other.
Another section was dedicated to Swami Vivekananda. Here, his face was engraved in a marble slab. The craftsman had done justice to his serene appearance. Flowers adorned his image and the milky-white marble shrine created a soothing ambience in the afternoon heat. As I walking out, I came across a handicrafts showroom. This place had handmade articles by the locals. There were jute bags, dolls, incense sticks, cotton sarees, jams, pickles, sauces and many more. I bought some bags and incense sticks. The Kasturi fragrance incense was the best buy as its smell is different from sandalwood, and floral ones. There, I was given a small picture card of this place that I have posted here.
Dakineshwar Temple is a must see if you are visiting Kolkata, a place where you can come face to face with the divine Mother and can seek Her eternal blessings.
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