Dakhineswar Temple is one of the most sacred places of Kolkata. It is an emotion which is deep rooted in the heart of most of the inhabitants of Kolkata. It is one of the most popular temples which are flooded with pilgrims throughout the year. It is the devotion in God that begets pilgrim from every corner of the country.
As a resident of Kolkata, I have visited the temple enormous time. This is the place where I get back my lost serenity of my soul and can articulate easily with Kali maa. My dilemma and exasperation simply vanishes when I visit the temple. The perplexities of my life get dissolved in the pure water of the Ganges and all the grimes of my mind washes away. I just love the place because of its beautiful location facing the river Ganga and another reason is it is free from Pandas. Whenever I visit the temple, my soul gets purified and my face wore a perpetual look of amiable beatitude.
The temple is dedicated to maa Bhabatarini, manifest of goddess Kali. It is built by Rani Rashmoni in 1855.Rani Rashmoni is well known for her philanthropic activities. She generally used to visit Benaras for getting divine blessings. Banaras is far away from Kolkata. She used to travel by boat with her relatives and servants. The journey is very tedious and troublesome. The night before her pilgrimage, she had a mystical vision of Kali maa. Mother told her to build a temple near the bank of Ganga. Rani was deeply touched by the dream and bought land in Dakhinswar to build the temple. This is the history behind the erection of this beautiful temple.
Dakhineswar is abode of Gods. Maa Bhabatarini is surrounded by Lord Shiv ji and Radha Krishna. There is a series of 12 identical shiv temple erected in Aatchala style. This east facing temples are just in front of the Ganges. Pilgrims are allowed to go inside the Shiv temple for worship. Radha Krishna temple is located at the north east. Deities are beautifully adorned by silver thrones. There is a columned verandah in front of the sanctum where visitors used to stand for a glance of Lord Radha Krishna. All the temple stands on a platform with a flight of steps. A big courtyard surrounds the temple.
The meticulous craftsmanship is the outcome of this magnificent temple. At the entrance of the temple premises, large gate welcomes you. On the right hand side a big fresco of Ram Krishna Deb will greet you. At the left side, space for car parking is provided.
While you walk down, Gaji pond is at left side and Dala arcade is at right. The middle area is beautifully landscaped. As this is our culture to visit any temple bare foot, so there must be some place to keep the shoes safely. Inside the premises, there is a big room to keep the shoes before entering the temple. For book lovers, there is a library which comprises a motley collection of Bengali, Hindi and English books.
The main temple of Bhabatarini Maa is constructed in Nava Ratna i.e. Nine spires style. The temple is three storied and south facing Maa Bhabatarini is housed inside the Garbhagriha i.e. sanctum. The idol stands on the chest of laying Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is lying on a thousand petal lotus made of silver. Only priests are allowed inside the Kali mata sanctum. Visitors are not allowed to go inside the sanctum of Kali Maa. Pilgrims have to give their puja accessories to the priests. Mobile, camera or any other electronic gadgets are strictly prohibited inside the main temple. Wallets are only allowed.
‘Kalpataru Utsav’ is celebrated every year on 1st January and on this day, lakhs of pilgrims comes here. On that day one has to stand on long queue to offer puja. Other than Kalpataru Utsav, on the auspicious day of Kali puja, same crowd is seen.
A marvelous initiative had been taken by the government for the ease movement of pilgrim. West Bengal government unveiled “Skywalk” on 5th November 2018 which connects the temple with Dakshineswar station.
Inside the premises
Gaji Tala and Gaji Pukur While entering from the main gate of the temple, at left hand side, there is a big pond known as ‘ Gajipukur’ and at the north east of the temple, there is Gajitala. It is that place from where Ramkrishna Deb explored Islam religion and unified two religions, Hindu and Muslim to come here and offer their prayers.
Kuthi Bari Rani Rashmuni with her family members used to stay here whenever she visited the temple. From the year 1855-1870, Sri Rmkrishna used to live at the ground floor of the Kuthir. Originally it is built by Lord Hasting .
Nahabat Khana Nahabat is panoply of musical instrument usually used to play in ancient time. And now a day, Nahabat is rarely arranged in occasions like weddings etc. Inside the temple, there are 02 Nahabat Khana.
In Bengali, ghat means a place where a flight of steps leads to descend down the river. This ghat is near to the series of Shiva Temple. In this ghat, Sri Ramakrishna’s Vedantic guru Sri Totapuri alighted from his journey. Room of Sri Ramkrishna In the north west corner of the temple, is the room of Sri Ramkrishna deb where he spend his last 14 years of his life. After the demise of his nephew, he shifted in this room from Kuthir Bari. Here he used to conduct spiritual discussion with his ardent followers like Swami Vivekananda and Keshab Chandra Sen.
Nat Mandir 50ft in length and 75 ft in width, this 16 pillared structure with a roof is an open hall which served the purpose for many religious discourses as well as spiritual songs. Just above the Nat Mandir, there is an idol of Lord Shiva whom Sri Ramkrishna always prayed before entering the Kali temple. To the south of this Nat Mandir there is a place for religious sacrifice.
Dala Arcade Generally we visit any temple to offer puja to the deity. And pujas are performed by flowers, sweets, sindur, agarbati etc. So, for the sake of pilgrims, Dala arcade has been constructed from where all the puja’s samagri can be bought. It is small market with series of stalls who sells puja accessories. The market is just opposite to the main entrance of the temple.
Dakhineswar temple is a devalaya all people are greeted equally. There is no restriction for caste and creed. No dress code, no entry fee is required to visit the temple. It is free from Panda system also. To offer puja, one has to stand in queue. There is no VIP queue. Several sitting arrangement are provided in front the Ganges. Flowers are blooming in the garden. There are many eatery shops near the garden. One can simply roam to enjoy the serenity.The temple looks amazing at night.
How to Reach
The nearest railway station is Dakhineswar and from Sealdah, train runs regularly. A beautiful skywalk connects the temple from the station for the ease movement of pilgrims and to avoid the congestion of the road. The temple is well connected with bus routes also. Metro is going to start in few days.
Temple remains open throughout the year.
From October to March: 6:00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 8:30 pm.
From April to September: 6 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 9:00 pm.
Nearby places that can be visited
Belur Math – It is another significant place of Kolkata.It is headquarter of Ramkrishna Math and Mission. From Dakhineswar temple, regular ferry services are available to Belur Math. The temple is sprawling over 40 acre of land andis emblem of peace and purity.
Adyapith- It is a temple of Adya Maa and is nearly walking distance from Dakhineswar temple.
This is an ideal place for one day city tour. In Adyapith and Dakshineswar temple, Prasad are served to the pilgrim at afternoon. For this one has to get the token at early morning. So, you can start your day by offering puja at Kali mata temple. Next visit Adyapith temple and have your lunch. Have a boat ride and visit Belur Math after 3.30p.m..
Sandya Aarati at Dakshineswar temple is very beautiful. Maa Bhabatarini looks more glorious in the evening. The ambience of the temple becomes magnificent at night due to artificial lightings.
If you have ample time, then do enjoy the boat ride.
Varieties of pickle are available for sale. So, if you love pickle, then do try it.
Do not take any gadgets inside the main temple as they are strictly prohibited.