One of the most important temples dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali, the Dakshineshwar Kali temple located on the eastern banks of the picturesque Hooghly in Dakshineshwar, Kolkata is an important place of pilgrimage for Indians and also one of the most prominent landmarks of Kolkata. The temple is also important for its association with Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Sri Sarada Devi both of whom spent a considerable part of their lives in this temple. The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, a manifestation of Kali.
The Dakshineshwar Kali temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, who was a Zamindar and a great visionary and philanthropist of her time.Rani Rashmoni built the temple after a vision of kali in her dreams ordered her to construct a shrine dedicated to her. The 20 acre plot on which the temple stands was bought from an Englishman and eight years and nine hundred thousand rupees later the temple finally took shape. The idol which was formerly known as Jagadishwari Kali was installed in the Garbha Griha on 31st May 1955 amid much fanfare. The presiding deity comprises of Kali with her foot on a sleeping Shiva. The entire idol rests on a thousand petalled silver lotus and is framed by a beautiful silver throne.
The main temple is an exemplary evidence of the traditional style of Bengal architecture. The hundred feet high three storeyed temple has nine spires which are placed evenly on the upper two storeys. The entire temple stands on a raised platform with a flight of steps leading up to it.
Apart from the main temple the compound contains a spacious courtyard surrounding the temple. The temple complex also houses twelve shrines which are dedicated to Shiva. It also houses shrines dedicated to Radha-Madhav, Rani Rashmoni a bathing ghat and the Nahabat. The Nahabat or the music room is the place where Sri Ramakrishna and his wife Sri Sarada Devi stayed when he was the priest at the Dakshineshwar temple.
It is very easy to access Dakshineshwar kali temple both by road and rail.Dakshineshwar is a station on the Sealdah-Dankuni railway line and all local trains and a few long distance ones make a halt here. By road it can be reached from the Barrack pore Trunk road by taking a left turn just after Baranagore and before the Dunlop Bridge. Numerous buses from all over Kolkata travel to and from Dakshineshwar.
A visit in the early morning will not only help you to avoid the huge queue which line up to offer puja to the Goddess but also enable you to catch an magical sunrise over the great Hooghly.You can also take a quick boat ride across the river to Belur Math, which is the headquarters for the Ramakrishna mission and is a very important monument and place in itself. When in Dakshineshwar you could also look up The Gaji Tala. This is on Rani Rashmoni road which is west to the Dakshineshwar temple. Gaji Tala is the place where Sri Ramakrishna explored Islam. Also a must see are the Bakultala ghat where Ma Sarada would take her bath, the Panchwati and Sri Ramakrishna’s room.