KALIGHAT KALI TEMPLE, KOLKATA
- In Details
- Know the Place
- Live Darshan
Kolkata; the City of Joy. With a mouth-watering smell of Macher Jhol (fish in gravy) or Shukto in every block, the city holds great history and wonderful culture. The city known for its Durga puja celebration withholds Kalighat Temple at the very centre of celebrations. Kalighat temple is a temple of its own kind. Celebrated as one of the Shakti peethas and located at one of Kolkata’s oldest places, this Kali temple is a well-renowned centre of goddess Kali and a pilgrimage place where devotees have come for centuries to surrender themselves at the feet of the Holy Mother.
The temple, once a riverside domicile on the old course of river Hooghly used to be surrounded by thick jungle and accessed through by boat, has now been transmuted into a beautiful temple at the heart of one of India’s most populous cities, Kolkata due to shifting of river course. The temple is now situated on the banks of a small canal known as Adi Ganga which connects to the river Hoogly.
The thousands of pilgrims who flock daily to the Kalighat temple treat Kali very much like a human mother, bringing her their domestic problems and prayers for prosperity, and returning when their prayers are fulfilled to express their gratitude. She is the goddess known for claiming human sacrifice during nights of a new moon. So why it is then (according to legends) a whole city’s name has been said to derive from the name of goddess’ one of the holy shrines? This one can only understand by being the part of Durga puja or Kali puja festival which is held in autumn every year, featuring colourful pandals, decorative statues of Hindu goddess Durga and Kali and fireworks.
God and Goddess worshipped
She is feared by the evils as her image is so petrifying but Kalighat’s sculpture of the goddess gives a whole new dimension of our understanding of the deity. Three huge eyes, long protruding tongue made of gold and four hands, which all are made of gold too. Two of these hands holding a scimitar and a severed head of the asura(evil) king 'Shumbha'. The scimitar signifies divine knowledge and the asura head signifies human Ego which must be slain by divine knowledge in order to attain Moksha (liberation). The other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which mean her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart), will be saved as she will guide them here and hereafter. But nevertheless, in whichever image she is showed off, she is the goddess of destruction, of empowerment and of change and her earliest incarnation shows her as victorious over evil.
Temple Timings and Tips
(For Mongal Aarti)
5.30 A.M to
5.30 A.M to
2.30 P.M. to
2.00 P.M. to
6.30 P.M. to
6.30 P.M. to
Closing of Temple
Practices that a devotee should undergo before/while going to the temple
There are some precautions that one should take before visiting the temple like:
- The temple is crowded on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. It is less crowded early in the morning before 8.A.M. If you can, plan your trip for a Wednesday early morning.
- Avoid taking cell phones and digital cameras to the temple. But if you have to take them, keep them in a safe place like handbags while entering the temple.
- Do not carry a heavy wallet/purse openly. Take out a particular small amount of money and keep it separately where you can reach it easily. Carry enough change in the form of 10 rupee notes, 50 rupee notes and 100 rupee notes. People end up by shelling out 100 rupees where 10 rupees would have been sufficient.
- In Kalighat temple you can be approached by brokers or touts who promise for a quick visit to the goddess. They will flock around you to pay them big bucks and an assured quick visit. Kindly note that these men have very little to do with the actual temple premise.
I know myself as an open hearted person, a voracious reader, a lover of art with a passion towards writing and an advocate of free will. I am still studying with a desire towards making an impact in others’ lives.
With my Bengali ethnicity, I have been part of grand religious rituals and Durga celebrations. I have a flair for writing and this is my very first attempt. The best thing happened for me to start with what we follow, practise and part of? Yes this is the beginning which was worth waiting!!!
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Temple in detail
Although visit to this temple is not that relaxing due to huge mass of devotees but walking towards the main deity, one should not miss the adobes on the very way some of which can be followed as:
Sosthi Tola is a rectangular altar about three feet high with a small cactus plant. Beneath the tree, on an altar three stones are placed side by side - left to right representing the Goddesses ‘Sosthi’, ‘Sitola’, and ‘Mongol Chandi’. This altar was constructed by Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880. Here all the priests are female.
A large rectangular covered platform called Natmondir has been created adjacent to the main temple, from where the face of the image can be seen.
The spacious veranda of the main temple facing the image is known as Jor Bangla. Rituals occurring inside the temple sanctorum are visible from the Natmondir through the Jor-bangla.
This is the spot adjacent to the Natmondir, southwards meant for Bali (sacrifice). There are two sacrificial altars for animal sacrifices side by side. These are known as Hari- Kath. The bigger one is for buffalo sacrifices and the smaller one is for goats and sheep. The animals are sacrificed with a single stroke of the scimitar and there is very little cruelty to animals when compared to the professional abattoirs.
This temple is known as Shamo-ray temple and is situated inside the temple, at the west side of the main temple.
This is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. In the past it was bigger and called 'Kaku-Kunda'. In 16th century 'Sati-Ango' (the right toe of Sati) was discovered from this tank. This tank is well known for its power to bestow the boon of a child. The water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges.
Nakhuleshwar Mahadev Temple
This Siva temple is dedicated to the consort of Maa Kali. This temple is also very old and had been mentioned in the history.
Rituals/ Celebrations/ Festivals
The biggest festival is of course the Kali puja which is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month Kartik (autumn) especially in Bengal and Assam. The temple is adorned with appealing cultural ceremonies like 'Snan Yatra' (Bathing Ceremony), on which the priests cover their eyes with cloth strips, while giving the ceremonial bath to the Goddess. Apart from Kali Puja, during Durga Puja, Poila Boishakh (the Bengali New Year day) and Sankranti the temple is adorned with thousands and thousands of devotees coming from all over the world.
It is important to understand the history of the temple in order to understand the rituals and practices that are prevalent today. The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old but it has been mentioned once in 15th century in Mansar Bhasan and again in the 17th century in Kavi Kankan Chandi. The evidence of this place’s antiqueness was manifested when Chandragupta II’s Archer type coins (which became the famous coinage during that period) was found in Kalighat. The original temple said to be a small shack situated at the old course of the river Hoogly was originally constructed by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. But the present temple was established under the benefaction of Sabarna Roy Chowdhury of Barisha. The completion took place in 1809.
The temple has also witnessed rows of dispute for its ownership between Banerjee family and Halder family. The Banerjee family gave in their ownership position in the 1990s and since then the Halder family has become the sole proprietor of the temple.
Kalighat is one of the 4 main Shakti piths (Adi Shakti Piths) in India. The other three main Shakti piths are Kamakshya, Bimala and Tara Tarini. According to legends, at Kalighat, Sati’s toes of right foot fell though many say that only the little toe of right foot had fallen at Kalighat. It is said that a devotee discovered a luminous ray of light that was coming from Bhagirathi river bed and found out that it came from a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe.
It is also said that the devotee also discovered a Svayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby that human toe and started to worship kali in the midst of the dense jungle. Kalighat is also connected with the veneration offered to Kali by a Dasanami Monk by name Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.
Address and How to reach / Accessibility
Kalighat is located at the southern part of Kolkata.
There are many government and private buses available from all parts of the city going to Hazra road, Kalighat or Rashbehari. You can get down at Kalighat (Kalighat Tram Depot) bus stop and walk a little and will find the temple premise.
Nearest station is Howrah (Distance from Howrah Station to Kalighat temple-12.0 km). Cabs are available at the station
Distance from Airport to Kalighat temple-20.9 km. If you are coming from Airport, either get a cab otherwise get to any bus which goes either to Rashbehari or Kalighat.
The nearest metro stations are Kalighat and Jatin Das Park. Kindly take southern exit in Kalighat and northern exit in Jatin Das Park. As one has to pass through so many steps in Jatin das Park, it is advisable for elderly people to get down at Kalighat metro station as there are escalators.
Kalighat Road, Kolkata,
West Bengal, 700001
If it’s your first time in the City of Joy, then with a good plan you will be able to see so many historical and cultural places as the city is regarded as being one of the most culturally uplifted city. The city is a diversified with having a touch of both old and modern culture in its own style. So, plan wisely and we are sure your stay in Kolkata along with a visit to Kalighat Kali temple will be an experience worth cherish for.
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