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Temples in East India >> West Bengal >> Dakshineswar Kali Temple


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.

History
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 and said:

“ 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.