Legend of Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is dedicated to goddess Kali, and this has close associations with Ramakrishna Paramahansa who attained nirvana at this holy temple only. The temple is situated on the sacred banks of the Ganges, which is considered holy. History narrates a story related with the temple. Legend has it that Rani Rashmani built this temple after she was blessed with a divine dream about building a Kali temple. This led her to this place where she built it and the first priest of the temple was Ramakrishna's elder brother Ramkumar. All through Sri Ramakrishna gave him company, from his childhood, and finally took the charges of the temple. From then his life took a new turn and Ramakrishna was taken over with frenzy as he kept on worshipping Kali. He became a devout worshipper and is very famous for his devotion in every Hindu Bengali household even now. He assumed a godly status, and is worshipped among the Hindus. The temple is saturated with energy and the aura of spirituality can be felt in the air.
There is still the room where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa used to live, and everything including the bed on which he used to take rest still exists. The place is serene and replete with all religious fervor. People till now are astounded how the temple of all the places became the source of inspiration for Sri Ramkrishna and how this place gained the virtue and glory, apart from the fact of being built by a fisherman's daughter. This is a proof of the secular notions that had flourished during that time under Sri Ramkrishna, which was later adopted by Vivekananda. Religion and philosophy is so well combined that it has lifted it high in the whole world.
Idol at Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
The idols of the Gods and the Goddess were decided to be installed on the snana-yatra day on 31 May 1855, an auspicious day for the Hindus. Adyashakti is the primordial energy-consciousness-bliss, she is the Mahamaya who creates the universe and liberates the jiva from the clutches of Maya. The sky is Her clothes. Her eyes have the spread from ear to ear. The Gods were defeated in the war against Shumbha and Nishumbha, the two Asura brothers. They were driven out of the heaven. They then composed a hymm to the Devi and prayed to Her. At this, a Devi came out of the body of the Adyashakti. She was named Kousiki. As a result, the color of Adyashakti turned into black. So she became known as Kali or Kalika(the dark).Though in course of time, she got black, her original color. The Garva Griha houses the idol of goddess Kali, known as Bhavatarini, standing on the chest of a supine Shiva, and the two idols are placed on a thousand-petaled lotus throne made of silver. The idols of the Gods and the Goddess in Dakshineswar Temple were decided to be installed on the snana-yatra day, an auspicious day for the Hindus. On 31st May 1855, more than 1 lakh Brahmins were invited from different parts of the country to grace the auspicious occasion.
Architecture of Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
The temple, besides the main Kali temple, consists of 12 Shiva temples right opposite to the main temple, have a Shiva Lingam. There is also, a gorgeous Laxmi Narayan temple that is a center of attraction. Huge number of devotees crowds these temples, which are worshipped standing in a queue.
Rani Rashmani purchased a 30,000 acre plot in the village of Dakhineswar of which 20,000 acre plot was bought from an Englishman, Jake Hastie, and was then popularly known as Saheban Bagicha. Built in the navaratna 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 46 square feet and rises over 100 feet high. 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 Hooghly river. To the North east of the Temple Complex is the Vishnu Temple or the Radha Kanta Temple. A flight of steps lead to the columned verandah and into the temple where a silver throne rests with a 21.5 inch (550 mm) idol of Lord Krishna and a 16 inch (410 mm) idol of Radha.
Altogether, the whole complex of Dakhineswar Kali Temple consists of the main Kali Temple, Nat Mandir, Vishnu Temple, Shiva Temple, Gaji Tala, Nahabat Khana and Panchabati.
Festivals at Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
Special occasions pull lakhs of people to this auspicious place, like the ones of monthly 'amabasya', which is considered sacred for Kali Puja, and also annual occasions like Kali Puja, which is held in a great scale all over Bengal and parts of India. The temple, decked up with flowers, strings of lights and diyas (oil lamps) and illuminated by skylights, is a sight to behold on the day of the Kali Puja. Thousands of devotees visit the temple on this auspicious occasion to seek blessings from Maa Bhavatarini.
A very significant festival celebrated at the Dakshineswar Temple is the Kalpataru Utsav. This is an annual festival celebrated on 1 January every year to mark Sri Ramakrishna’s revelation as an Avatar (avatar is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘the God incarnate’) on 1 January 1886. The Dakhsineshwar temples are a great place for religious worship and considered a heritage still emitting the feeling of a mystical past which is awe inspiring. Due to security reasons, no video or photography is allowed here but the serene banks of the Ganges can provide for an ultimate experience, which can be treasured in the hearts to be recollected in tranquility.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple is accessible in all ways. Nearest airport in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. Taxi or buses are available to the temple. By railways, there are many junctions near the temple like Sealdah, Howrah, Kolkata etc. The Dakshineswar Railway Station itself is connected to the 350-metre, stunning Dakshineswar Skywalk that will lead directly to the gate of the temple. The skywalk, named after none other than Rani Rashmoni, was built by the Government of West Bengal for the convenience of visitors and also to alleviate the traffic issues in the congested area. Also river Ganga connects Dakshineswar Temple to the Belur math Temple. The vessel service especially connects those two temples.