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The Dakshineswar Kali Temple (Bengali: দক্ষিনেশ্বর কালী মন্দির Dokkhineshshôr Kali Mondir, Sanskrit: दक्षिनेश्वर काली मन्दिर) is a Hindu temple located in Dakshineswarmarker near Kolkatamarker. Situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly Rivermarker, the presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, literally meaning, 'She who takes Her devotees across the ocean of existence'. The temple was built by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali in 1855.

The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, contains a large courtyard surrounding the temple, with rooms along the boundary walls. There are twelve shrines dedicated to the aspects of Shiva, Kali's companion, along the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a bookshop, a shrine to Rani Rashmoni. The chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples, is where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa spent a considerable part of his life.

History

The presiding temple deity, Bhavatarini, with a foot over Shiva
In the year 1847, Rani Rashmoni, a wealthy zamindari widow prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred Hindu city of Kashimarker to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. Rani was to travel in twenty four boats, carrying relatives, servants and supplies. According to traditional accounts, the night before the pilgrimage began, Rashmoni had a vision of the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali in a dream and reportedly said,

Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani immediately looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction of the temple. The large temple complex was built between 1847 and 1855.

The 20 acre plot was bought from an Englishman, John Hastie and was then popularly known as Saheban Bagicha, partly old Muslim burial ground shaped like a tortoise, considered befitting for the worship of Shakti according to Tantra traditions, it took eight years and nine hundred thousand rupees to complete the construction, and finally the idol of Goddess Kali was installed 31st May 1855, amid festivities at the temple formally known as Sri Sri Jagadishwari Mahakali, with Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay as the head priest; soon his younger brother Gadai or Gadadhar (later known as Ramakrishna) moved in and so did nephew Hriday to assist him.

The next year, Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay died, the position was given to Ramakrishna, along with his wife Sarada Devi, who stayed in the south side of the Nahabat (music room), in a small room on the ground floor, which now a shrine dedicated to her.

From then until his death 30 years later in 1886, Ramakrishna was responsible for bringing much in the way of both fame and pilgrims to the temple.

Architecture

Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, built on a raised platform.
Built in the traditional 'Nava-ratna' or nine spires style of Bengal architecture, the three-storeyed south-facing temple has nine spires distributed in upper two storeys, and stands on a high platform with a flight of stairs, over all it measures 46 feet square and rises over 100 feet high.

The garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) houses an idol of goddess Kali idol, known as Bhavataraini, standing on the chest of a lying Shiva, and the two idols are placed on a thousand-petaled lotus made of silver.

Close to the main temple are the row of twelve identical Shiva temples built facing the east in the typical ‘Aat Chala’ Bengal architecture, they are built on either side of the ghat on the Hoogly river. To the North east of the Temple Complex is the Vishnu Temple or the Radha Kanta’s Temple. A flight of steps lead to the columned verandah and into the temple where a silver throne rests with a 21 and half inches idol of Lord Krishna and 16 inches idol of Radha.

Gallery

Image:Dakshineswar.jpg|Main building of Dakshineswar templeImage:Shiva temples.jpg|The Lord Shiva temples at DakshineswarImage:Flower_stall_at_Dakshineswar.JPG|The flower vending stall: Flowers are used in puja.Image:Rashmoni_Shrine_Dakshineswar.JPG|Shrine dedicated to Rani RashmoniImage:Dakshineswar Temple.jpg|The temple complex from Bally BridgemarkerImage:Dakshineswar Spires.jpg|Terra-cotta roof of the templeFile:Nahabat of Dakshineswar Kali Temple.jpg|The south side of the Nahabat, where Sarada Devi lived in a small room on the ground floorFile:Sarada Devi's Room Nahabat.jpg|Sarada Devi's tiny room on the ground floor of the Nahabat, now a shrine.


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