During my several official trips to Kolkata between 1986 and 2001; I have been to Kalighat Kali Temple a number of times. My first visit to Kolkata was in May 1986 to commission ‘Praga-Mitsubishi CNC Machining Center’ manufactured by our Company (Praga Tools Limited) at New Allenberry Works, Hazra Road. And this was followed by very frequent visits for commissioning or servicing of CNC Machines supplied by us to Rifle Factory Ishapore, Ordnance Factory - Dumdum, Gun and Shell Factory-Cossipore, Paharpur Cooling Towers Limited-Alipore, Premium Transmission Limited-Falta and also to New Allenberry Works. Our very friendly Regional Sales Office was at No.4 Fairlie Place. Sometimes it used to be more than six trips in a year to Kolkata. During most of my trips I stayed in South Kolkata where there are a number good South Indian Hotels. And Kalighat Temple being in the same area it was very convenient to visit the Temple.
After a gap of 14 years I have gone to Kolkata again and this time with my wife on a vacation and I made it a point to visit Kalighat Kali Temple along with her. The attached photographs are of us at the Temple. And towards the end of this article I have provided a very nice Video of the Goddess – an Arati Video, which I am sure you would like.
For those of you who have no idea of this popular Temple, here is some brief introduction. First and foremost Calcutta or Kolkata City has got its name from this Kali Temple. An old course of Hooghly River (Bhagirathi) was passing by the side of this Kali Temple and hence the landing stage along this River and this area came to be known as Kalighat and the Temple as Kalighat Kali Temple. And the City that came up around it came to be called as Kolkata/Calcutta. The Temple is now on the banks of a small canal called Adi Ganga. Kalighat is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peetas where various parts of Sati’s body have fallen. Sati is the daughter of King Daksha Prajaapati and wife of Lord Shiva. She is also known as Dakshayani. Sati married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father. Daksha Prajaapati then performed a great Yagna with the sole aim of insulting Lord Shiva. He invited all the Gods and Goddesses except his son-in-law, Lord Shiva. Against Lord Shiva’s wishes, Sati attended her father’s Yagna, where she was insulted by her father. Unable to bear the insult, Sati walked into the Yagna Homa to immolate herself and died. Enraged and grieved Lord Shiva destroyed Daksha’s Yagna and he cut off Daksha’s head and replaced it with that of a goat as he restored his life. Still angry with grief at his wife’s death, he picked up the remains of Sati’s body and danced the dance of destruction throughout the universe. The other Gods intervened to stop his dance but in vain. Then Lord Vishnu used his disc (Vishnu Chakra) to cut through the corpse of Sati. Various parts of her body fell at several spots of our country. These places are called Shakti Peetas and here Sati is worshipped as kali Mata (Mother). Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell. Legend is that a devotee discovered a luminous ray of light emanating from the Bhagirathi River bed, and upon investigating its source he came upon a piece of stone in the form of a human toe. He also found a Swayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav and started worshipping Kali here.
The origins of the Temple are chronicled in various scriptures dating back from the 15th century. The original Temple is said to be in a hut and then in the 16th century King Manasingha built a small Temple. The present Temple was built in 1809 under the patronage of Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Banisha and they became the owners of the Temple. However the Haldar family claimed to be the original owners of the Temple property and this was disputed by the Chowdhurys of Banisha. It was only in 1960’s a committee was formed for the administrative management of the Temple with representation from the State Government and the Haldar family.
The Temple is visited by pilgrims in thousands every day from all over the country and abroad. They worship Kali as a mother and as a powerful goddess, bringing to her their domestic problems and pray for good health and prosperity. And when their prayers are fulfilled they visit again to express their gratitude.
Arati at Kalighat Temple: