Kalighat Kali Temple, Kolkata

Kalighat Kali Temple is a famous temple for Hindus. It is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas in India located in West Bengal, India. Perhaps no other deity represents the state of Bengal the way Goddess Kaali does. The Goddess is a part of the Bengali culture and every year during Navratri celebrations, Bengal is the place to be. Kaalighat, situated on the banks of a canal called Adi Ganga that connects to the holy river Hoogly (also called as Bhagirath in ancient references), is considered one of the holiest of places on earth and is one of the fifty-two Shakti Peethams dedicated to Goddess Parvathi. Legend has it that the Goddess’s right toes fell here. Just across the river are the Dakshineswar Kaali temple and the famous Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ashram at Belur Math. The Goddess’s image here is very different from that of other Kaali temples in the state and is depicted in a fierce form but conveys a very subtle message. The human head and sword represent ego and supreme knowledge respectively from which we can infer that the human ego must be left behind to attain salvation and that supreme knowledge is the means to attain it. One can also observe that the two other hands of the Goddess are in Abhaya and Varada mudras signifying the Goddess’s generous aspects. The Goddess is known to fulfill her devotee’s desires and rescue them from troubles. The temple complex also enshrines the temple of Radhakrishna. Thousands of pilgrims throng the temple every day to seek the blessings of Maa Kaali.

Though the place can be dated to the period of the Guptas, the temple is a relatively newer construction built around two hundred years ago by Sabarna Roy Choudhury in 1809 enhancing the original temple erected around the sixteenth century by king Manasinghia to most of what we see today. There have been many enhancements ever since including the Nat Mondir – built by Kasinath Roy in 1835 CE, the Radhakrishna Temple – built by Uday Narayan Mondal in 1843 CE and Sosthi Tala – built by Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880 CE.

Legend has it that Goddess Parvathi’s right toe fell here and was discovered by a devotee who upon investigating the light that was emanating from the riverbed found an image of the toe and also the Nakuleshwar Mahadev Sivalinga. The pond where the Goddess’s toe was found is situated within the temple complex and is called Kundupukur. Apparently, water from this tank is considered very sacred and is known to bestow children to the childless.  The present idol was made by the saints Brahmananda giri and Atmaram giri.  Chowranga giri, a Dasanami monk is also associated with the shrine.

Kali puja and Durga puja are celebrated with fantastic pomp and the religious fervor is just awesome. The atmosphere just gets electric with lakhs of people from across the country attending the spectacle. The festivals of Poila Boishak and Bengali New Year are also quite popular and are celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Places of Interest
Just across the river is the Belur Math – the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission established by the great philosopher Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The Dakshineswar Kaali Temple is also a famous temple dedicated to the Goddess. The Taraknath temple at Serampore and Tarapith at Birbhum are also very important temples in Bengal and are visited by thousands of pilgrims.

The city of Kolkata offers innumerable options for accommodation suiting every possible budget.

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