Friday, 20 December 2013

Calcutta Kaali Shakti Peetham in Kalighat

Kaali in Kalighat:-

200 year old temple from which Calcutta is said to take its name. Kali is regarded as one of the principal deities of Bengal. There are other temples to Kaali - Sahasrabhuja Kaali, Sarvamangala, Tarasundari and Simhavaahini. Kaali is regarded as the destroyer or liberator and is depicted in a fearful form. Despite the terrifying form, she is considered to deliver bliss to worshippers. Kalighat is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell.

The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century. It is said that a devotee discovered a luminant ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi river bed, and upon investigating its source came upon a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. He also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby, and started worshipping Kaali in the midst of a thick jungle. This shrine grew to its present form over a period of time, thanks in particular to the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Bengal. This family is also said to have built the Chitreswari Kaali temple at Chitpur. It is believed that there was a pathway through the jungle between Chitpur and Kalighat, and this pathway is said to have become the Chitpur road of Calcutta. Kalighat is also associated with the worship offered to Kaali by a Dasanami Monk by name Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.
The river over a period of time has moved away from the temple. The temple is now on the bank of a small canal known as Adi Ganga which joins to the Hoogly. The Adi Ganga was the exclusive course of the stream Hoogly the Ganges. The image of Kali in this temple is exclusive. It does not follow to the pattern of other Kali image in Bengal. The existing idol of touchstone was designed by two saints Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. Three big eyes, long protruding tongue designed of gold and four hands, which all are made with gold too. Two of these hands having a scimitar and a severed head go of the Asura king ‘Shumbha’. The scimitar represents divine knowledge and the Asura head represents human Ego which must be slain by divine knowledge to be able to obtain Moksha.
 Kali is considered as the destroyer or rescuer and is portrayed in a fearful form. One of the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India, the Kalighat Kali Temple draws numerous devotees throughout the year.

Since then it has been an important pilgrimage site. But the temple is dedicated to the destructive side of Shiva which takes the form of Kali. She requires sacrifice daily to satisfy her blood lust so every morning goats are sacrificed on the alter of the temple.


The image of Kali in this temple is unique. It does not follow the pattern of other Kali images in Bengal. The present idol of touchstone was created by two saints - Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. 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 king 'Shumbha'. The scimitar signifies Divine Knowledge and the asura (or, human) head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and hereafter.
 Each temple have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The name of Shakti here is Kalika and the Kalabhairava as Nakuleshwar.

Kali Temple:-

Kali Temple in its present form is only 200 years old.

The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. The resent temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Barisha. It was completed in 1809. The Haldar family claims to be the original owners of the temple property. But this was disputed by the Chowdhrys of Barisha. In the 1960s a committee was formed for the administrative management of the temple with representation from the Government and the Haldar family. The responsibility of conducting the worship rests with the Haldars and their heirs, generally known as shebaits.

The Kali Temple comprises a Sanctum Sanctorum - the Nat Mondir - a small hall attached to the main temple, a Shiva Temple, a shrine dedicated to Radha Krishna - the main attraction being the image of Goddess Kali with a long protruded tongue which is made of solid gold and her hands made of silver and gold. The four Shiva temples were constructed by various Sevait families who continue to retain control over them.

Within the premises of Kali Temple is three feet high rectangular alter on which is a big old tree. Under the tree are three stones depicting the three Goddesses - Sosthi, Sitola and Mongol Chandi - all three considered as a part of Goddess Kali. This spot in the temple is referred to as the Sosthi Tala and the Monosha Tala . Gobinda Das Mondal had constructed this alter in 1880 which is the place of the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri . The remarkable aspect of this spot is that all priests at this spot of the Temple are women.

Adjacent to the Nat Mondir are two Bhali Peet - a place where animals such as the Buffalo, goats and sheep are sacrificed for Goddess Kali.

Fed by the Ganges, it is believed that it was here that the toes of the goddess were discovered by Brahmananda. Pilgrims usually take a bath in this kund before entering the temple. A curious sight meets you on stepping into the temple. People place their heads on the Bali Peetha facing the Sannidhi, a custom not seen anywhere else. It is a symbolic request to the goddess to cut this cycle of birth and death and give us eternal moksha. Right opposite the main entrance, at what is known as the Harkath Thala, there are two other Bali peethas that reek with blood. Here, goats and chicken are sacrificed to the goddess by various people, thanking her for her blessings in their lives. A little further down, the Samadhi of Brahmananda is marked by a small raised altar bearing a little cactus plant. Known as the Sosthi Thala, there are three flat stones embedded on the platform representing the goddesses Sosthi, Sitola and Mangol Chandi. Pujas over here are exclusively performed by women priests alone. From this spot, looking across the Ganges, one can have an excellent view of the beautiful temple dedicated to Dakshineshwari, the goddess who was once worshiped, woken up, fed with sumptuous food and put to sleep – every single day with loving care by none other than Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
At the west side of the main temple is the Radha Krishna Temple called the Shamo-ray Temple which was made in 1723 by a settlement officerof Mushidabad District. Zamindar Udoy Narayan Mondol of Baowali erected the present temple in 1843. The Dolmancho was founded by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar in 1858. Vegetarian Bhog for Radha-Krishna is prepared in a separate kitchen.

Outside the boundary walls, on the south east of the main temple is - Kundupukur previously called Kaku-Kunda - a sacred tank of approximately 10 cottahs. This is the same tank where the Goddess toe was discovered and hence the water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges.
Kalighata might have been situated as early as the time of the Guptas,as coins of the time was unearthed from the location. At the end of the Buddhist suprimacy at Bengal Tantric sects became active. During the time waterways was the common trading routes. For this purpose river Adiganga (old course of Ganges), touching Kalikhetra was an important route to Bay of Bengal. These traders used to offer pujas to the various temples situated at both the banks, among these that of Kali was most important to them.
Amidst the dense forest the bank from which vehicles deport and arrive was termed gradually as "Ghat" or dock. The  river as Kaliganga and the region came to be known as Kalighat. Kalighat was at that time a small hut like structure with a furious idol of Kali in it and a dense jungle around. The present Dakshina Kali idol in touchstone might have been a creation of two saints called Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. It was they who discovered fossils of fingers of Devi Sati's feet from the pond called Kalikunda.    
This discovery made Kalighat as one of the 51 shrines or Pithas of worshippers of Shakti or mother goddess, where sections of Sati's body was throw at the time of Tandava. Those fingers (according to some only one finger) were still preserved in a silver box under the idol, at the north-east corner. Saborno Chaudhuries of Borisha reconstructed the temple to its present form. It was under Raja Santosh Roy chaudhuri of Saborno Chaudhuri lineage that present day temple construction was started around end of 1798.

    In its early days, after death of Brahmananda and Atmaram Giri, the "Mohonto" system (main disciples among the saints chosen as Priest) was practiced at Kalighat. During the time of such a disciple, Bhubaneswar Giri the first change occurs. He kept a woman called Yogamaya as his companion or Bhairavi as called according to Shakta traditions.Yogamaya died at an early age shortly after giving birth to a daughter called Uma. As Uma attained the age of marriage Bhubeneswar gets divine instruction to give marriage of Uma and to continue worship by her husband as the mother goddess is no longer willing to get offerings from the hands of ascetic priests.

From then onwards all sebayats (people who make their living out of worshipping) of Kalighat are married. At the same time another miracle occurred. A person called Bhabanidas Chakraborty in search of his Kali worshipper father came to Kalighat. On Bhubaneswar he settled there marrying Uma and became the first married priest of Kalighat following the Divine instruction.

Bhabanidas was himself a Vaishnava and in course of time established his family idol of Vasudeva on the west side of the main temple. One day he had a dream that the Mother is willing to have a decoration of sandalwood paste or what is known as "Tilaka" (commonly used by Vaishnavas or worshippers of Vishnu). In the next moment at the temple he found the idol to have an unfinished decoration of sandalwood paste and the residue paste in the container with marks of vermilion in it and rest spilled on the entire room. The Vashudeva idol was painted with both sandalwood paste and vermilion.    


Bhabanidas put "Tilaka" on the forehead of Kali realising the divine massage that both Kali and Krishna are the same spirit.This ends the long drawn rivalry between the Vaishnava cult and Sakti cult. From then onwards Kali has been decorated with Tilaka in her forehead. Kalighat celebrate another novel ritual from then onwards. At the very day of Shyamapuja, Alaxmi (negative) was driven away like West Bengali Hindu rituals and Dipawali was conducted with welcoming of Goddess Laxmi. But here no idol or any symbol of Laxmi was worshipped. Instead the Mother goddess herself was worshipped as Laxmi, as she is believed to be the expression of entire 33 crores of Hindu gods and goddess.

Inside the Kalighat Temple:-

There is a large rectangular covered platform called Natmondir, adjacent to the main temple, from where the face of the image can be seen. Jor-bangla is a spacious varandah of the main temple, facing the image. One can see the rituals inside the sanctum sanctorum from the Natmondir through the Jor-bangla. There is a rectangular altar called Sosthi Tala which is about three feet high, with a small cactus plant. Below the tree, there are three stones placed on an altar, representing the Goddesses Sosthi, Sitola and Mongol Chandi. This holy spot is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. These Goddesses are considered as part of Maa Kali. To the south of Natmondir is the Harkath Tala which is used for Bhali (sacrifice). Located on the west side of the main temple is the Radha-Krishna Temple. It is known as Shamo-ray temple. Kundupukur is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple. It is said that that during the sixteenth century, ‘Sati-Ango' (the right toe of Sati) was discovered from this tank.

Shoshti Tala:-

This is a rectangular altar about three feet high bearing 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 sacred spot 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 of Bhog is done here. The Goddesses here are considered as part of MAA Kali.

Harkath Tala:-

This is the spot adjacent to the Natmondir, southwards meant for Bhali. There are two Bhali Peet for animal sacrifices side by side. These are known as Hari- Kath.

The bigger one is for buffalo sacrifices and the smaller one for goats and sheep. The animals are sacrificed with a single stroke of the knife and there is very little cruelty to animals when compared to the professional abattoirs.

Radha- Krishna Temple:-

This temple is known as Shamo-ray temple and is situated inside the temple at the west side of the main temple. In 1723, a settlement officer of Mushirabad district first erected a separate temple for Radha-Krishna. In 1843 a Zamindar called Udoy Narayan Mondal erected the present temple in the same spot. The Dolmancho was founded in 1858 by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar. There is a separate kitchen for preparation of vegetarian Bhog for Radha-Krishna.

The four Shiva temples inside the temple were constructed by different Sevait families who retain control over them.


This is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. Present area of the tank is approximately 10 cottahs. In the past it was bigger and called 'Kaku-Kunda'. In sixteenth century 'Sati-Ango' 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.

Unfortunately the attention of the Devotees towards this tank has dwindled in recent times.

Nakhuleshwar Mahadev Temple:-

This is in Haldar Para lane on the opposite side of the temple behind the police station. This temple is also very old and mentioned in the history. Please have Dharshan here.


 As per the legends, the different body parts of Sati fell on the earth at the time of self-sacrifice. It is believed that the right toe of Sati fell here and subsequently; the temple was erected to commemorate the Goddess. Goddess Kalika is the presiding deity in the Kalighat Temple.

Another legend says that once a devotee saw a bright ray of light impending from Bhagirathi River. He located the light and discovered a piece of stone in the form of a human toe. In its vicinity, he also found a 'Svayambhu Lingam' of Nakuleshwar Bhairav. He placed the images in a small temple and started worshipping them in the forest.

 Kali is described as dark complexioned form of Shakti  who has taste for blood and death. She rules over the cremation sites and is  worshipped by devotees on a dark and moon less night. She is most popular deity  of Bengal. Kali is the female version of Kala or end of time. As per historical  records Lord Gorokhsha Nath, a great religious and social reformer, who  converted left hand Tantra to right hand Tantra, by transforming the Tantric  Kula Bhairavi in to mother Goddess.  His  Guru Lord Matsendra Nath was the founder of Kula System in Bengal. One of his disciples  Chourangi Nath used to look after this temple and his seat was named as  Chourangi and the road from ashram to temple was named as Chourangi road.


Kalighat Shakti Peeth to have been an uniqueness in Calcutta whereon Goddess Shakti’ right leg fingers fell subjects to Kalighat Kali Temple, intuitively. As history is concerned, Kalighat Temple was as a small hut, but the present temple was built by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family of Barisha in 1809.
Offering  595 bighas of land to the Kali Temple, he with the very priority kept in mind to worship could be continued easily. Though, the entire breed of human bows down their head at Kalighat to pay patronage to the Goddess Kali Maa.
Two saints-Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri with the incredible hands crafted to the present dakshina Kali idol of touchstone. Interestingly, it was Padmabati Devi (the mother of Laksmikanta Roy Choudhury), discovered the fossils of Sati's finger in a lake called Kalikunda made Kalighat as one of the 51 Shakti Pithas.

History of Kalighat Kali Temple in Kolkata:-

The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early Sixteenth century. The present temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Banisha. It was completed in 1809.
In the nineteen sixties a committee was formed for the administrative management of the temple with representation from the Government and the Haldar family.

Temple Timings:-
 5.00 A.M. -3.00 P.M.& 5.00 P.M. -10.00 P.MNitya Puja:-
5.30 A.M to 7.00 A.M
Bhog Rag:-
 2.30 P.M. to 3.30 P.M. 2.
Sandhya Aarti:-
 6.30 P.M. to 7.00 P.M. 


On the occasion of Snan Yatra - a bathing ceremony when the temple priests bathe the Goddess with their eyes blind folded. The Kali temple is flooded with thousands of devotees on festivals like Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Poila Boishakh - Bengali New Year and Sankranti.

Coinciding with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja which is performed on the day of Diwali is the Kali Puja - dedicated to goddess Kali. This Puja was introduced by Raja Krishnachandra of Navadvipa in Bengal during the 18th century in Bengal but gained popularity in the 19th century, because of Krishanachandra s grandson Ishvarchandra and the Bengali elite and wealthy landowners who began patronizing the festival on a grand scale. The Kali Puja and the Durga Temple are the biggest festivals in Kolkata. Goddess Kali is worshipped at night with elaborate and grand rituals with offerings of red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice, fish, meat and animal sacrifice and celebrated with fireworks when the entire cityscape of Kolkata is lit up in thousands of multi-coloured sparkling fireworks (a kind of explosive pyrotechnic device that is used for religious and entertainment purpose).
a, the right foot of the goddess is washed with a fragrant mixture of milk, sandal and water and the abhisheka liquid is distributed to the devotees as Charnamrit. It is believed to bestow one with happiness and cure many diseases if ingested with devotion and belief.

Kali Puja:-
Kali Puja in Bengal, dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali Maa, is celebrated on the new moon day of the Hindu month Ashwin. Kali Maa coincides with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja day of Diwali. While the Bengalis, Oriyas and Assamese worship to Goddess Kali Maa on this day and the rest of India worships Goddess Lakshmi.

Durga Puja:-
 Widely, Durga Puja is celebrated in West Bengal, where it befalls as a five-day annual holiday. In West Bengal and Tripura, which has huge attendance of Bengali Hindus. Indeed, it is the biggest festival of the year. Not only is it the biggest Hindu festival celebrated all through the State, but it counts also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society. Apart from West Bengal, Durga Puja is also celebrated in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Kashmir, Karnataka and Kerala.

How to reach:-

By Road:-

West Bengal state buses connect all parts of the state with Kolkata.

*Private Deluxe and A/C luxury buses are also available from Kolkata to various cities in the state and neighboring states.

By Rail:-

Howrah and Sealdah are the two major railway stations in Kolkata. These stations are well connected to all the major cities in India.

* The Metro rail system in Kolkata connects all the main junctions of Kolkata. It is the fastest way to reach the different parts of the city.

By Air:-

Kolkata being a metropolitan city is very well connected to the rest of the country.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is 20 km from city centre.

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