Kali Temple Kali Ghat, Kolkata: Dedicated to Hindu Goddess Kalika is the Kali Temple - one of the most sacred pilgrimage destinations of India. Located at 22°31′12″N 88°20′31″E, the Kali Temple is in the southern part of Kolkata city - on the banks of Adi Ganga - a main flow of river Hooghly in Kalighat locality - one of the oldest localities of Kolkata. The Kali Temple (originally a small hut), was built in 1809 by Raja Basanta Roy of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury clan - who offered 595 bighas of land to the Temple deity. The present day dakshina Kali idol of the Goddess was made by two saints - Atmaram Giri & Brahmananda Giri. The Temple has typical Medieval Bengali type of Architecture.
Mother Teresa s a hospice for the unwanted, the homeless, the lepers, the crippled and the blind with the objective of providing a dignified life (of what s left of it) and a dignified death to those who are breathing their last - called the Missionaries of Charity - also known as Nirmal Hriday and Kalighat Home for the Dying is located in the extension of the Kali Temple since 1952.
Millions of devotees pay homage to Goddess Kali in the Kali Temple every year. Goddess Kali is liberating God and a destroyer too which is why she is seen depicted in a wrathful form. Goddess Kali is regarded as the most complex goddess of the Hindu pantheon who evokes a sense of fear from her devotees. Kalighat Kali Temple is considered as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas of Goddess Shakti.
On the occasion of Snan Yatra - a bathing ceremony when the temple priests bathe the Goddess with their eyes blind folded. The Kali temple is flooded with thousands of devotees on festivals like Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Poila Boishakh - Bengali New Year and Sankranti.
Coinciding with the pan-Indian Lakshmi Puja which is performed on the day of Diwali is the Kali Puja - dedicated to goddess Kali. This Puja was introduced by Raja Krishnachandra of Navadvipa in Bengal during the 18th century in Bengal but gained popularity in the 19th century, because of Krishanachandra s grandson Ishvarchandra and the Bengali elite and wealthy landowners who began patronizing the festival on a grand scale. The Kali Puja and the Durga Temple are the biggest festivals in Kolkata. Goddess Kali is worshipped at night with elaborate and grand rituals with offerings of red hibiscus flowers, sweets, rice, fish, meat and animal sacrifice and celebrated with fireworks when the entire cityscape of Kolkata is lit up in thousands of multi-coloured sparkling fireworks (a kind of explosive pyrotechnic device that is used for religious and entertainment purpose).
Though there is a mention of the Kali Temple in Kalighat in Kavi Kankan Chandi's Mansar Bhasan which was written in the 15th Century, the Kali Temple in its present form is only 200 years old.
The Kali Temple comprises a Sanctum Sanctorum - the Nat Mondir - a small hall attached to the main temple, a Shiva Temple, a shrine dedicated to Radha Krishna - the main attraction being the image of Goddess Kali with a long protruded tongue which is made of solid gold and her hands made of silver and gold. The four Shiva temples were constructed by various Sevait families who continue to retain control over them.
Within the premises of Kali Temple is three feet high rectangular alter on which is a big old tree. Under the tree are three stones depicting the three Goddesses - Sosthi, Sitola and Mongol Chandi - all three considered as a part of Goddess Kali. This spot in the temple is referred to as the Sosthi Tala and the Monosha Tala . Gobinda Das Mondal had constructed this alter in 1880 which is the place of the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri . The remarkable aspect of this spot is that all priests at this spot of the Temple are women.
Adjacent to the Nat Mondir are two Bhali Peet - a place where animals such as the Buffalo, goats and sheep are sacrificed for Goddess Kali.
At the west side of the main temple is the Radha Krishna Temple called the Shamo-ray Temple which was made in 1723 by a settlement officer of Mushidabad District. Zamindar Udoy Narayan Mondol of Baowali erected the present temple in 1843. The Dolmancho was founded by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar in 1858. Vegetarian Bhog for Radha-Krishna is prepared in a separate kitchen.
Outside the boundary walls, on the south east of the main temple is - Kundupukur previously called Kaku-Kunda - a sacred tank of approximately 10 cottahs. This is the same tank where the Goddess toe was discovered and hence the water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges.