This has been a ritual ever since I can remember. We’d wake up early in the morning, shower quickly and leave for the famous Kali temple in Dakhineshwar. The temple is revered by millions and is always thronging with devotees coming from far and wide, who normally take a dip in the banks of the Hoogly flowing by the temple premises, and then queue up to offer their prayers to Goddess Kali. Believers feel strongly about invoking Goddess Kali’s blessings for important occasions/landmarks, starting of newer projects, thanksgiving here. Saint Ramakrishna Paramhansa attained his sainthood in this temple. Dakhineshwar was also where Swami Vivekananda turned to when he renounced worldly cares.
Have heard that Tuesdays and Saturdays, New Moon days are generally more crowded. Plus, the new year and festivals in the Hindu calendar also draws devotees by the hordes. Once inside the premises, spend some time taking a look at the simple, yet beautiful, architecture of the main temple and the smaller ones (which are dedicated to Lord Shiva) overlooking the river. When not very crowded, this place can be very calming.
Helpful Information on Dakhineshwar Temple:
1. Timings of Dakhineshwar Temple: The temple opens at 6 am every day and shuts at 12.30 for the noon. It reopens at 3 pm and shuts a little after the evening aarti around 9 pm.
2. When Is The Best Time To Go To Dakhineshwar Temple? Early mornings are very nice, but then, the evening Aarti is also one experience that you shouldn’t miss. However, try to avoid the mid-day, i.e, post 9am. Is usually crowded around then until noon.
3. How To Reach Dakhineshwar Temple? Dakhineshwar Temple is in North Kolkata and is well connected by local train, bus, taxis and rickshaws. The local train station is called Dakhineshwar and is connected with the Howrah line. The nearest metro station is Dum Dum.
4. Can You Buy Flowers & Offerings @Dakhineshwar? Yes. There are many stalls just outside the temple premises that sell flowers, garlands, incense sticks and offerings at various prices ranges. You can buy the basket from any of these vendors and upon completion of your Puja, come back to the same stall where the vendor will give you a bag to carry back the flowers and offerings. You can also leave your shoes/sandals here before you queue up for the Puja.
5. Are There Any Eating Joints @ Dakhineshwar Temple? Yes. Since many devotees come to the temple to offer their prayers on an empty stomach, there are many stalls outside the temple premises that sell snacks (kachuri-cholar dal, shingara), sweets (roshogolla, jalebi, gulab jamun etc) and tea in earthen cups. But remember, hygiene is completely side-lined here. So gorge at your own peril 😉
6. Is Photography Allowed @Dakhineshwar Temple? No. It is strictly prohibited inside the temple premises. You can keep your camera with the guys who sell the flowers. It is safe. Photography is allowed outside the temple premises. (The temple photos used in this blog had been taken 9 years ago. At that time, there was no prohibition on taking photos)
7. Are Foreigners Allowed @Dakhineshwar Temple? Yes. Know some temple in India do not allow non-Indians. I find that ridiculous. Thankfully, Dakhineshwar Temple has no qualms allowing people of any religion inside their premises.
8. Shopping @ Dakhineshwar Temple: Once again, stalls outside the temple premises sell a whole lot of puja items. You get plates and glass made of stone, brass etc. Take a look if you’d like to buy anything for your own house or for a friend/relative.
Take a ferry and go to Belur Math just across the river — Read about How to go to Belur Math