Religious places

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As you know, we discuss Calcutta Hotspots on this blog. Well, we just got 1000s of hotspots. Any guess?

Ok, let me tell you the open secret 🙂 I am talking about the thousands of Durga Puja pandals that have sprung up on the roads, in the parks, in the various complexes and even private houses. These are heavily decorated, themed and house the Goddess supreme, Ma Durga who is always reminding us the good always wins over evil.

Almost everyone who lives in Calcutta or is here on a vacation, is out on the streets, hopping from one pandal to the next, appreciating the themed decoration and the blessings that Mother is showering on the devotees. Children are busy buying toys and street hawkers and roadside stalls are serving fast food for the hungry souls who have walked miles and miles forgetting the tiredness in the excitement.

The TV channels are vying with each other to cover the largest number of Pujas, and conferring a variety of awards to the deserving and the smart alecs are cashing in by running in SMS contests.

Do you miss the Puja fun and frolic? The community food, dressing up and roaming the streets all night, the adda and sneaking a look at that flame? Share your feelings with us and lighten up. We will pass these on to Ma Durga.

Been to Belur Math?

If no then you definitely missed out something, which is not worth missing!

Well, to be a little more specific or let us just say informative, Belur Math is a religious abbey located in the neighborhood of Belur in the city of Howrah, West Bengal, India.

Belur Math, an important place of pilgrimage includes the main monastery, several temples, is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. It is a tranquil monument with lush lawns and gardens built by Swami Vivekananda on the banks of the Hooghly. The mission welcomes visitors from all over the world and provides one of the most peaceful prayer halls in Kolkata.

Swami Vivekananda who was a disciple of Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa founded Ramakrishna Mission in loving memory of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa who preached unity of all religions, in 1897. Belur Math, the most enchanting temple in Belur, was constructed on 14th January 1938. Swami Vivekananda was the main inspiration behind its construction. This mission has branches all over the country. The architecture of the structure amalgamates within itself a unique specimen of the fraternity. From any angle you look at it the structure is like a temple, a mosque or a church depending on the way you look at it.

In case you don’t know, Belur Math is very famous for KUNWARI PUJA, which takes place on the eighth day or as we say Ashtami of Durga Puja. Few lakhs of people visit then. But don’t worry; in case you are not able to be there, you can watch the direct telecast of the puja on your television.

As Belur Math is located on the western bank of the Hooghly River in Howrah district near Dakshineshwar, be there in the evening or early morning and get the feel of nature! Stand on the banks of the Hooghly River, and just watch the flow of the river, just feel the sunlight on you, see the water shine and sparkle when sunlight falls on it and just feel the cool breeze around you. It’s a nice picnic spot as well!

Reaching Belur Math is not at all difficult. You just need to take a boat from Dakhshineshwar Temple, the abode of Goddess Kali in Kolkata and within 15 minutes you reach Belur and from there it is 5 minutes walk to the Math. Private taxi, mini buses are also available at your service from various parts of the city.

Now you know, why I said that visiting Belur Math is not worth missing!

Ma Kali is the almighty and the absolute being of Calcuttans and Dakshineshwar, a prominent temple of Goddess Kali.

Even I am regular worshipper of Ma Kali but I generally used to go to Kalighat Temple. However this new year I got the chance to be at the Dakshineshwar temple.

Despite the movement of so many people, the place seemed to be very peaceful and serene. When I entered the main temple complex, on the right side there was a covered lane sort of place where there were number of shops from where I bought flowers and prasad for  my puja. If you are carrying some stuff you can easily keep them under the shopkeeper’s custody from where you buy, as for that matter I also did that.

Then when I came out of the place, I found that there is a very nice arrangement for us to deposit our shoes, as Hindus don’t go to temples or mandirs with the shoes on. The boy out there charges Re 1 for a pair of shoes we keep.

And now when finally I was done with all the preparations I went inside in the temple. I had to stand in a long queue as it was the first day of the year but generally if you go on normal days, you don’t get such huge crowd.

Note: Tuesdays and Saturdays are always an exception – don’t expect thin crowds on those days.

But trust me the waiting in the queue was worth it. After standing for about 1 hour I finally got Ma Kali’s darshan and I did my puja.

Then as I came down, right opposite to the temple of Ma Kali, there are twelve individual temples of Lord Shiva. That is why, these temples are called “Barah Mahadev“. One by one I visited all of them.

Now after having done with my puja, as I was leaving I noticed that there is Ganga Ghat right inside the temple campus and I went there and saw people having bath out there. The water was so pure and cold; I went down a few stairs to feel the water and washed my feet and face. It felt so nice!

Finally I came out of the temple having a feeling which was so pure and new.

Some facts about the temple: Rani Rashmoni is the person who thought about the temple and Ramkrishna Ji was the priest of the mandir then. The bedroom of Shri Ramkrishna Ji is still there in the temple boundary.

Now reading all these you must be worrying how to go to Dakshineshwar? Well reaching the  Dakshineshwar mandir is quite easy and convenient. You can come directly by a train from sealdah station or by boat from Belur. There are a lot of buses from Esplanade also.

One more thing: Don’t forget to visit Belur Math, the tranquil monument with lush lawns and gardens which as said earlier will be just a boat ride away from Dakhshineshwar.

One more thing which I forgot to add: when you go via road, don’t forget to have a look at the mandir from Bally Bridge; the view is amazing!

"Jai Ma Kali" – you will find this sound reverberates in the Kalighat temple all the time, even if you cannot hear it with your physical ears. Goddess Kali is the craze of Calcuttans and if you happen to see the rush of devotees at the time of Kali Puja, Durga Puja and other such festival times, you will know what she means to Calcuttans.

Kalighat temple is also considered a tourist spot now sertraline tablets. Any Hindu visiting Calcutta makes it a point to visit the Kalighat temple.

Warning: There is a serious panda problem at this place. Best thing to do is to take a local person with you. Otherwise, buy prasad from an outside shop (I always go to Kali Bhandar, they have pedas which are made with less sugar), go inside and queue up, ignore all pestering from the pandas. It takes time to reach the garbh griha but you will have a nice darshan. The priest may ask for 100s of rupees but give what you want and stick on your stand (though politely).

Hope Ma Kali blesses your soul!

Calcutta (Kolkata if you please) rocks! It has a vibrant life of its own and those who have been here for some time and felt the warmth of its people, like to come back again and again. Of course, some people get dejected by the bandhs and other political nonsense but then, where else can you find such respect for the women and the elderly?

We will talk about the hot and happening places in Calcutta here. Discuss the cool hangouts where the young rub shoulders with the elderly. Feeling religious? You can even locate some nice temples and gurudwaras where you can pray to the almighty (watch your pockets though). Freak out at the night-clubs or empty your wallets at the shopping malls. Who says, people have no money left? Just check out the queues at the check-out counters of the malls and you will think different.

So get ready for the journey into the mind and body of Calcutta – it rocks!

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