Bengal Diaries: Dakshineshwar

With an entire day of rain, you’d think today would be cool and breezy! Nope, the sun’s shining down on us with all its might. Putting on our Indian attires, we got out of the guest house and hardly managed to keep our eyes open. Suddenly, the clouds turned grey and the weather turned blessedly windy.

I realised that the concept of cars are to be forgotten for the next couple days. We took a toto and wrestled through the rain to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple. The street outside the temple was lined with rows of stalls selling flowers and other offerings for the Goddess. Fragrant garlands of Hibiscus filled the road with vibrant colours.IMG_2430.JPG

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This beautiful temple has 12 shrines dedicated to Shiva, a temple to Radha and Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river and a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. Rani Rashmoni was a dalit who founded this temple and appointed Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa as the priest.

Nahavat-Khana was a chamber just beyond the last of the Shiva temples where Ramakrishna spent a considerable part of his life. The chamber has been converted into a mini-museum.

The architecture was beautiful in its own way but unfortunately, phones and cameras were strictly prohibited. It is built in the traditional Bengal architectural style. It is three-storeyed and has nine spires (nava ratna).

The garbha griha has a breathtaking idol of Kali that stands on the chest of a Shiva that is lying down. Both idols are placed on a thousand-petaled silver lotus. We offer a “dala” filled with sweets and flowers, especially a lotus.

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Near the entrance, a newly established statue of Vivekananda graced us.

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For lunch, we stopped at a dhaba just outside the temple. Kochuri and Cholaa’r Dal had us licking our lips for more. It was by far our most satisfying meal in West Bengal.

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From Kali Temple, we took a cycle rickshaw to Adyapeath. It is an organization dedicated to service of humanity and to the worshipping of the Divine Mother.

The Sangha operates orphanages, schools, old age homes, ashrams and social service centers. The Adyapeath temple is made of beautiful white marble. The floor was engraved with wordings.

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From here, we took a toto and then an auto rickshaw back to Uttarpara where we unwound in the guest house for a few hours. The kids lounged on an establishment over the Hooghly. It was a sort of canapy without a roof, more like a viewpoint. To the left we found people bathing and cleaning clothes in the river and to the right boats rowed leisurely.

At night, we went to a grandad’s house to mend a few utfits meant to be worn on Sunday. My grandmom learnt to make noodles and we filled our stomach with delicious Indo-Chinese food.

On the way home, we saw another Durga pandal with a very intricately detailed idol. Later, we bought some ghugni and savoured it with bread and crashed onto our beds with a sated stomach.

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