Kalighat Kali Temple is one of the famous places to visit in Kolkata. If you’re visiting this city, Kalighat is definitely on your top five list. The history, belief and background stories make this temple more attractive among tourists. Doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, you are from a different religion or a different country, Kalighat Kali Temple comes on your mind when you think about making a trip to Kolkata. The Kalighat temple attracts a major part of travelers to Kolkata.
The temple is situated in the heart of the city, dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali, which is one of the 51 Shakti Peethams. Now do not get confused with these Shakti Peethams, we will break it down for you. Goddess Kali is worshipped as the Mother Goddess in this city. It is not that hard to find a Kali Temple in almost every corner of the Kolkata. Even a few people say that the city has derived its name from ‘Kali’ Goddess. Though we have no official source about it, we can still say that the Goddess Kali is the supreme deity of Kolkata.
Right now we are going to get the basic knowledge about the historical and mythological belief of this holy temple. So it would be a little easier to get the background story when you are going to visit the temple.
We have already mentioned that the temple of Kalighat is regarded as one of the holiest peeth of 51 Shakti Peethams of the Indian subcontinent. We are sure you have heard about Shakti Peethams before, as some popular places like Guwahati, Varanasi or Gaya have a Shakti peeth too. Now we should let you know about the story behind this Shakti Peethams.
Shakti Peetham’s Story
In Hindu mythology, there is an interesting belief behind Shakti Peethams. There has a mention of a beautiful girl called Sati in Hindhu Purans, who was the daughter of Daksha, married to Lord Shiva against her father’s wishes. Daksha, who wasn’t so impressed with Shiva, arranged a great Yagna, to intentionally insulting his son in law. All Gods and Goddesses were invited there except Shiva. Yet, Sati attended this Yagna, she was very insulted by her father’s behavior. She failed to bear her husband’s insult and immolate herself on the Homa fire.
Shiva got furious to the loss of his beloved wife, destroyed the Yagna, also cut Daksha’s head. Shiva was very grief-stricken that he started dancing with the dead body of Sati, which was called the Rudra Tandava. To save the universe, Lord Vishnu cut Sati’s corpse with his Chakra (disk). After that, Sati’s body cut in 51 parts and fell at various spots across the Indian subcontinent. Each place has a temple of Sakti now, called as Sakti Peethams. Kalighat Kali Temple represents the spot where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell, in the course of Shiva’s Rudra Tandava.
Being an ancient temple, Kalighat temple has some different stories about the foundation. One of the most popular ones that once a devotee named Atmaram Brahmachari used to do his prayer in the midst of a thick forest. One evening he saw a bright light impending from the bed of the river. Later, in the morning light, he discovered a piece of stone in the form of a human toe. He collected the stone and placed it on a small temple and started worshipping.
Even there is a story that some Kapalik Sanyasis were going to the confluence of the river Ganga and the sea and while passing through the jungle, they found a piece of stone and immediately discovered that it was the representation of Kali. They purposely fixed the image in the thick of the forest because the human sacrifice was necessary for the puja according to the Tantra. At that time, human and animal sacrifice were allowed in the worshipping of Goddess Kali, that was the reason behind Goddess kali was not that popular among households in past days.
Founder of the Temple
Most of these stories are popular among local people. which does not give the correct timing and age of the temple. But the current structure of the temple was founded in 1809. The present temple was built by Sabarna Roy Choudhury, a zamindar of the Sabarna family.
Once Sabarna Roy Choudhury was passing by the Bhagirathi river(the Ganga river called Bhagirathi in this city) in a boat in the evening when he was attracted by the blowing of the conch shell inside the jungle. He got interested and stopped the boat. Following the direction of the sound of the conch shell, he came to a very thick part of the forest and found that a priest was doing Arti to the image of Kali. Santosh Roy Choudhury himself was a worshipper of Goddess Kali. Since then he started worshipping Kali there regularly. He was the one who built the present structure of the Kali temple in 1809.
The Deity and Temple
The main deity is Dakshina Kali Goddess here in Kalighat temple. The image of the Goddess has a unique look which does not follow the usual pattern of other Goddess Kali image of West Bengal. The touchstone of the idol was created by Atmaram Brahmachari. The three huge eyes, long tongue, and four hands of Goddess Kali all are made of gold.
The Kalighat temple is divided into some parts inside like Shosthi Tala, Jor Bangla, Natmandir, Kundupukur, Radha Krishna Temple and Harkath Tala.
The small pond inside of the temple which is called Kundupukur is the holiest part of the temple. The sacrad tank is situated in the south-east part of the temple. It is believed that the right toe of Sati was discovered from this pond.
Each Shakti Peeth has a Bhairav temple (a temple of Lord Shiva), as it is believed that Shiva is always protecting these Shakti Peethams. For Kalighat Kali temple, it is Nakuleshwar Bhairav Temple. This temple is located opposite the Kali temple.
Public Opening – 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 10:30 PM (Weekdays)
Public Opening – 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM (Weekends and Tuesdays)
Morning Arati – 4:00 AM (Not for public)
Evening Arati – 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM
How to Reach
The Kalighat Kali temple is located at Anami Sangha, Kalighat. The place is easily accessible and could be reached by any transport. The nearest metro station is Kalighat, although the temple can be reached from Jatin Das Street Park metro station.
Various buses are available for Kalighat temple from nearly every part of Kolkata. Cabs are also a good option.
- Please avoid Weekends and festival days, you will get a long queue.
- Do not miss the Arati (the songs sung in praise of the deity). The Arati is available both in the morning and evening. But you should watch the evening one, cause the morning Arati is not available for the public.
Ruchira Sarkar is the founder of Hey Calcutta! An aspiring blogger and a travel enthusiast. She created this website to represent the real flavour of Kolkata and Bengali culture. Besides this blog, she typically loves books, food, and music.