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Monday, 10 October 2011

Kalighat Temple in Kolkata- Day 2

Kalighat is on the banks of the river Hooghly and they say that Calcutta’s name was derived from the term Kalighat. I remember the description of region in Amitav Ghosh’s mystery thriller The Calcutta Chromosome. The book gives a wonderful atmospheric depiction of the region and the city that you feel the pulse of Kolkata reading it.

Kalighat is considered to be one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Dakshayani or Sati’s body were said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva’s Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell.
Kalighat Temple

The Kalighat temple we saw did not look old though it finds its mention in works as early as 15th century. In its present form the temple is only about 200 years old. The legends say that a devotee found a luminant ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi (Hooghly) riverbed. And when searched, it was found that the source was a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. The devotee also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby. He started worshipping Goddess Kali there.

The original temple was a small hut and ruler Manasingha constructed a small temple in the early 16th century. The present temple was constructed by the family of Sabarna Roy Chowdhury of Barisha in 1809.

The temple is open for devotees between 5 am and 2 pm and then again between 5 pm and 10.30 pm. The doors are closed between 2 pm and 5 pm for ‘bhog’. Aarti will be performed in the morning and evening.

We found a rectangular altar about three feet high bearing a small cactus plant. Beneath the tree, on an altar three stones were placed side by side, left to right representing the Goddesses Sosthi, Sitola, and Mongol Chandi. This sacred place is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. This altar was constructed by Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880. The place of the altar is the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri. Here all the priests are female. No daily worship or offering is done here. The Goddesses here are considered as part of Goddess Kali.
The idol of Goddess Kali here is unique. The idol of touchstone is believed to have been sculpted by two saints -- Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. The idol has three huge eyes, long protruding tongue made of gold and four hands. There’s a sword in one hand, a severed head in the other hand. Other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras.

Though a few men approached us that they would take us for instant darshan we didn’t go, as Umer, Sajid and Shahid refused to come with us. We didn’t want to go and make them wait outside the temple. So after that I dropped the idea of even asking the driver if he could take us to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple! My dad had particularly mentioned never to miss Dakshineshwar if we visit Kolkata. He had been there once and he had absolutely loved the place, but still I regret that I couldn’t visit the place where Ramakrishna Paramahamsa spent a considerable part of his life and worshipped Goddess Kali and formed a rare form of love for her, which is popularly known as maha-bhava.


Then we went to the hotel to take some rest thinking that we would do some shopping in the evening. We slept off till 5 pm and at 5.30 I left for shopping. Vij told me to go and check out the dresses at Palette which was in front of the hotel.

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