Dakshineswar Kali Temple is situated alongside the Vivekananda
Bridge north of Calcutta, about 20 km. from BBD Bagh.
It is famous for its association - with Ramkrishna who
achieved spiritual vision here. This temple was built
by Rani Rashmoni in 1847. The 12- spired temple with
its enormous courtyard is surrounded by 12 other temples
dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a world famous place
of pilgrimage and it was here that the famous religious
thinker Rama Krishna Paramahamsa achieved his spiritual
vision and preached the unity of all religions.
Ramakrishna served as temple's head priest. From the
first days of his service in the shrine of the goddess
Kali, he was filled with a rare form of love for the
Goddess known in Hinduism as maha-bhava. Worshiping
in front of the statue of Kali, Ramakrishna would be
overcome with such ecstatic love for the deity that
he would fall to the ground and immersed in spiritual
trance, lose all consciousness of the external world.
Ramakrishna fully realized the infinite and all-inclusive
nature of the divine.
The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main
temple, contains a large courtyard surrounding the temple,
with rooms along the boundary walls. There is a bathing
ghat on the Hoogly river, a bookshop, a shrine to Rani
Rashmoni, a parking lot and twelve shrines dedicated
to the aspects of Shiva, Kali's companion, and to Radha-Krishna.
The chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the
last of the Shiva temples, is where Swami Ramakrishna
Paramahamsa spent a considerable part of his life.
In the year 1847, Rani Rashmoni, a wealthy zamindari
widow prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred
Hindu city of Kashi to express her devotions to the
Divine Mother. Rani was to travel in twenty four boats,
carrying relatives, servants and supplies. But the night
before the pilgrimage began, the Divine Mother, in the
form of the goddess Kali appeared to Rani in a dream
“ There is no need to go to Banaras. Install
my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the
Ganges river and arrange for my worship there. Then
I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship
at that place
Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani immediately
looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction
of the temple. The large temple complex was built between
1847 and 1855. The head priest died the next year, and
the title was given to Ramakrishna, his brother. From
then until his death 30 years later in 1886, Ramakrishna
was responsible for bringing much in the way of both
fame and pilgrims to the temple.