Admire architectural beauty and see important religious icons at this sacred temple complex on the banks of the Hooghly River.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple is a large riverside Hindu temple complex and a place of pilgrimage for millions of Hindus around the world. The sacred site was founded in the middle of the 19th century by philanthropist Rani Rashmoni.
Visit the nine-spired Kali Temple in the center of the main courtyard, which is dedicated to the Divine Mother Kali. Admire the architecture then go inside to see the idol of the deity. This basalt figure, covered in gold brocade, stands on a white marble statue of a prostrate Shiva, one of Hindu’s most important deities. Both are on a thousand-petaled lotus made of silver.
Go to the Vishnu Temple at the northeast side of the temple complex. See the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha. Look inside one of the side rooms to see the temple’s original statue of Lord Krishna. The idol was dropped by a priest, but it has been repaired so well that it’s difficult to see the cracks.
Tour the 12 identical temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Six temples are located on either side of the bathing ghat, the stone staircase that leads into the river. View the various representations of the god inside these shrines.
Explore Ramakrishna’s room, near the last of the Shiva temples. This small space is dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, a 19th-century mystic who was a priest here. See Paramhansa’s two cots, the one he slept in and the one he sat on to talk to devotees.
Stop by the old fig tree that is the last remaining tree of the temple’s original panchabati. A panchavati is a garden of five trees where spiritual practices are observed.
Situated 13 miles (20 kilometers) north of the center of Kolkata, Dakshineswar Kali Temple is easily reached by bus and train. If you are driving, free parking is available in the nearby lot. The complex is open daily, but to avoid the large crowds, arrive early. Admission is free.