History of Belur Math
In January 1897, Swami Vivekananda arrived in Baranagar, Calcutta with his small group of Western disciples. Two monasteries were founded by him, one of them is at Belur, which became the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission. The design of the temple was envisioned by Swami Vivekananda and the architect was Swami Vijnanananda, a direct monastic disciple of Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna Temple was consecrated on 14 January, the Makar Sankranti Day in 1938.
Architecture of Belur Math
Belur Math comprises a temple of Ramakrishna Paramahansa, which is separated by a transparent glass cover. There is an Old Temple where Ramakrishna Paramahansa is regularly worshipped. The temple of Ramakrishna took a period of 4 years to be built and was funded by an American disciple of Swami Vivekananda named Ms. Hellen Rubel. Besides this there is Swami Vivekananda's room located adjacent to the old temple, a temple dedicated to Holy Mother, Sarada Devi, the two storied temple of Swami Vivekananda, the "Samadhi Peetha", the temple of Swami Brahmananda and the Ramakrishna Museum. These buildings add to the aura and divinity of the place. The temple of Sarada Devi has been made in the place where she was cremated. Swami Vivekananda's temple looks magnificent in size and splendour, and has been built on his crematory ground. The Samadhi Peetha contains the 'samadhi' of the seven foremost disciples of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. The Museum, on the other hand, supplies to the inquisitive needs of people who want to know about Ramakrishna and his teachings. There are several articles here that contain the preaching of this Indian saint.
Activities of Belur Math
The Math is an ideal place for reflection and spiritual regeneration. Studies of Vedanta form the primary concern among the monks. Vivekananda's efforts of making Vedanta popular universally are still on and universities around the world have also got interested in the Math for further knowledge and information. The monks of Belur Math lead a disciplined life adept in the art of "Right Living & Right Action", which has been made obsolete by the modern day. Therefore, the Belur Math is an ideal destination for inner well-being and peace. The activities of the Math begin early in the morning with a 'Mangalarati' at 4 am, followed by the Japa and meditation at the main temple. This ceremony is held only by the monks and is not open for the public. This routine is generally followed in the months of April to September. In the period between October and March the arati takes place at 4.30 am.
In the world of uncertainty and rush the peaceful locale provides an atmosphere to unwind in a spiritualistic way that has healing properties. Many people flock to the Math premises, which is in itself a wonderful specimen of art and architecture and upholder of a legacy carried through the years. It still functions but in a more Global fashion and many programs annually are being held which attracts people in large numbers. All Hindu festivals including birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and the first twelve disciples of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa are celebrated every year, along with the day when these souls ascended the heavenly abode. These days are marked by silent prayers, meditation and devotional songs sung by the monks. All these lend a special tint of solemnity to the Math, which has survived the ravages of time and transformations of civilisation.
Festivals at Belur Math
The best time to explore the Belur Math is during the festivities like Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Ras Poornima celebrations at the month of September and October. However tourists also visit Belur Math between December and March and can participate in the celebration of Christmas, and the birthdays of Bhagavan Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda. They arrange a handicrafts fair and exhibitions and a firework show on Ganga River on the birthday of Bhagavan Ramakrishna.
Belur Math can be reached by both river and railway. The math has its own Ferry-Ghat and Belur Math Station. The main entrance opens directly towards Grand Trunk Road. The math also has its own guest house and Prasad Bhavan.