Saturday, 12 December 2015

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata built by a devout woman!!

 The uniqueness about Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata  is  an ardent  devout Hindu woman was solely responsible  for its entire construction right from purchasing the land to final stages of consecration in mid 1850s,  when India was under the control of East India company and her people were the victims of its oppressive rule. The daring  soldiers of  Barrackpur, who faced untold discrimination,  shared the same waters of the river upon the banks of which the  Kali Temple came up later. Driven by patriotic zeal, they  revolted against the British and this was followed by several protests in other parts, culminating  in Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.  Calcutta (Kolkata), being the capital of the British rulers saw the emergency of numerous, committed  patriots who wanted the foreigners  driven out of India. The wealthy woman was not only deeply religious, but also patriotic and she kept  the  temple work  going  during this tumultuous and unstable political time  prevailing before the mutiny. Undaunted,  the brave woman at last accomplished her  religious  commitment - a magnificent Kali temple at Dakshineswar, Kolkata.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, located in Dakshineswar, on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, near Kolkata, West Bengal  is dedicated to  Bhavatarini, a form of Goddess  ''Kali.''  This famous place of worship and veneration   was closely associated with Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great  saint (whose disciple was  renowned Swamy Sri Vivakananda) and   was  built  by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali in 1855.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata.www.dakshineswar.com
The three floored south facing temple follows the tradition of Bengal  temple architecture and the Navaratna style is represented by nine spires that occupy the upper two  floors.  Including the platform with a flight of steps, the total height of the spire is 100 feet. In the garbhagraha (sanctum)  are enshrined the idols of presiding deity  Kali and Lord Shiva in reclining form with Goddess Kali standing on the chest of the lord. Both  idols are reverentially placed on a silver lotus flower with 1000 petals made of pure silver.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata, commons.wikimedia.org
An interesting feature is all Shiva shrines on the temple premises are facing East and there is also a Vishnu  shrine (Radha Krishna) on the NE side of the  Temple Complex. 
Sri. Ramakrishna came to the temple in 1855, as an assistant to his elder brother, Ramkumar, the head priest, a job he took over the next year, after Ramkumar's death. en.wikipedia.org

.Location map. Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkatawww.maps-india.com
About the origin of this temple there is an interesting  legend that may be worthy of mention :
In the  middle of the 19th Century in the year 1847,  a wealthy devout woman by the name of Rani Rashmoni wanted to go on  a pilgrimage to the holy city of Kasi (now Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh) to pray to the divine mother there. She was  set  to  leave  by  river  with her  paraphernalia, consisting  of  several  boats, her relatives, servants, food, etc. Before embarking on a long journey,  that night she had a  strange dream in which Goddess Kali appeared and asked her to have a temple built in her place  itself on the banks of the Ganges  instead of traveling all the  to Kasi. Upon waking up from the dream, she canceled her trip to Kasi  and  wanted to fulfill  the divine dispensation. Immediately  she got down to work and, in the first phase,  she bought a 20 acre  land  in the village of Dakshineswar from an Englishman.  After knowing the  presence of a Musilm burial ground in one corner of the  plot, sanctity of the place became an issue as it  was believed that the consecration of  Goddess Kali  could not be done as per Tantric tradition.  Consequently the  temple construction work got delayed and at last completed after 8 long years.  The idol of Goddess Kali was installed  according temple Agama Sastras  on the Snana Yatra day on 31 May, 1855, with religious fervor graced by one lakh Brahmin Pandits  from different parts of the country.  The place  was formally known as   Sri Jagadishwari Mahakali temple.  Upon the demise of the head priest   Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay  sometime later,  his brother  Gadadhar (later known as Ramakrishna) moved along with his  wife  Sarada Devi.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Kolkata.travelinfo-westbengal.blogspot.com

For thirty years till 1886,  Sri Ramakrishna was instrumental in making the temple more popular and getting  lots of pilgrims to the temple. Rani Rashmoni died in the year 1861. This  famous  temple toda stands  as a great monument to her  selfless services to the causes  of Hinduism and the spread of bakthi and devotion to God.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dakshineswar_Kali_Temple