Categories: Hindu Shrine

Dakshineswar Kali Temple:A Hub of Spirituality and Serenity

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, also known as Dakshineswar Kalibari, is a revered Hindu temple situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River in Dakshineswar, Kolkata, West Bengal, India. This temple is a significant center of devotion, known for its rich history and spiritual significance. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating history, architecture, and spiritual significance of Dakshineswar Kali Temple.

The Vision of Rani Rasmoni

Rani Rashmoni

The story of Dakshineswar Kali Temple begins with Rani Rasmoni, a philanthropic Zamindar and a devotee of Kali Maa. In 1847, Rani Rasmoni prepared for a pilgrimage to Kashi, a sacred Hindu city, to express her devotion to the Divine Mother. She planned to embark on this pilgrimage with twenty-four boats carrying relatives, servants, and supplies. However, an extraordinary dream changed the course of her journey.

A Divine Dream

The night before her pilgrimage, Rani Rashmoni had a vision of the Divine Mother, goddess Kali, in a dream. This vision profoundly affected her. In her dream, it is said that she heard Kali Maa say, “Build a temple for me by the banks of the Hooghly River.” Driven by this divine instruction, Rani Rashmoni immediately set out to acquire land for the construction of the temple.

Acquiring the Land

Rani Rashmoni purchased a 30,000-acre plot in the village of Dakshineswar, which was popularly known as Saheban Bagicha at the time. This land, acquired from an Englishman named Jake Hastie, held historical significance. It was shaped like a tortoise, which was considered suitable for the worship of Shakti according to Tantra traditions.

The construction of the temple complex took eight years and nine hundred thousand rupees to complete. This sacred land was transformed into the spiritual sanctuary we know today.

The Construction of the Temple

Dakshineswar Kali Temple

The temple was constructed between 1847 and 1855, following Rani Rashmoni’s divine vision. The main temple, built in the Navaratna style, stands as a testament to Bengal architecture. This three-story, south-facing temple features nine spires distributed in the upper two stories, and it rises over 100 feet high, sitting on a high platform accessible by a flight of stairs.

The Idol of Goddess Kali

At the heart of Dakshineswar Kali Temple is the garbha griha, or sanctum sanctorum, which houses the idol of goddess Kali, known as Bhavatarini. This powerful representation of Kali stands on the chest of a supine Shiva, symbolizing the interplay of creation and destruction. These divine idols rest on a thousand-petaled lotus throne made of silver, adding to the spiritual grandeur of the temple.

The Surrounding Complex

The temple compound is more than just the main shrine. It consists of a large courtyard surrounding the temple with rooms along the boundary walls. Beyond the main temple, there are twelve shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kali’s consort, along the riverfront. Additionally, there is a temple devoted to RadhaKrishna, a bathing ghat on the river, and a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni herself.

One notable structure within the complex is the ‘Nahabat,’ a chamber in the northwestern corner where Ramakrishna and Maa Sarada Devi spent a considerable part of their lives. The presence of these spiritual luminaries has contributed to the temple’s reputation as a center of spirituality and mysticism.

Ramakrishna and Maa Sarada Devi

Ramakrishna and Maa Sarada Devi

Ramakrishna (one of the top 10 spiritual gurus of Bengal) and Maa Sarada Devi, two prominent mystics of 19th century Bengal, have a profound association with Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Ramakrishna, initially known as Gadadhar, moved to the temple after the installation of the idol of Goddess Kali. His nephew Hriday also joined him, and the temple became a significant center for their spiritual activities. Ramakrishna’s influence brought fame and a steady flow of pilgrims to the temple, solidifying its position as a spiritual hub.

Rani Rashmoni’s Legacy

Tragically, Rani Rashmoni did not live long after the temple’s inauguration. She fell seriously ill in 1861 and realized that her time was near. In a selfless act, she decided to hand over the property she had purchased in Dinajpur, which is now in Bangladesh, as a legacy for the maintenance of the temple. She accomplished this task on 18th February 1861 and passed away the following day. After her demise, her sons-in-law took up the tradition of celebrating Durga Puja in their respective premises.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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