17th century Kalighat Temple Kolkata (Calcutta), The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century. Only two types of coins of Chandragupta II, who incorporated Vanga in the Gupta Empire, are known from Bengal. His Archer type coins, which became the most popular type of coinage with the Gupta rulers after Kumaragupta I, have been found in Kalighat. This is evidence of the antiquity of the place.
The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. The present temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Barisha. It was completed in 1809. The Haldar family claims to be the original owners of the temple property. But this was disputed by the Chowdhrys of Barisha. In the 1960s a committee was formed for the administrative management of the temple with representation from the Government and the Haldar family. The responsibility of conducting the worship rests with the Haldars and their heirs, generally known as shebaits.
This is a rectangular altar about three feet high bearing a small cactus plant. Beneath the tree, on an altar three stones are placed side by side – left to right representing the Goddesses “Sosthi”, “Sitola”, and “Mongol Chandi”. This sacred spot is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. This altar was constructed by Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880. The place of the altar is the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri. Here all the priests are female. No daily worship or offering of Bhog (food offering) is done here. The Goddesses here are considered as part of Maa Kali.
A large rectangular covered platform called Natmondir has been erected adjacent to the main temple, from where the face of the image can be seen. This was originally built by Zamindar Kasinath Roy in 1835. It has been subsequently renovated often.
The spacious varandah of the main temple Facing the image is known as Jor Bangla. Rituals occurring inside the sanctum sanctorum are visible from the Natmondir through the Jor-bangla.
This is the spot adjacent to the Natmondir, southwards meant for Bali (sacrifice). There are two Sacrificial altars for animal sacrifices side by side. These are known as Hari- Kath.
The bigger one is for buffalo sacrifices and the smaller one for goats and sheep. The animals are sacrificed with a single stroke of the scimitar and there is very little cruelty to animals when compared to the professional abattoirs.
This temple is known as Shamo-ray temple and is situated inside the temple at the west side of the main temple. In 1723, a settlement officer of Mushirabad district first erected a separate temple for Radha-Krishna. In 1843 a Zamindar called Udoy Narayan Mondal erected the present temple in the same spot. The Dolmancho was founded in 1858 by Madan Koley of Saha Nagar. There is a separate kitchen for preparation of vegetarian Bhog (food offering) for Radha-Krishna.
Kalighat Temple Tank (Kundupukur)
This is the sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. Present area of the tank is approximately 10 cottahs. In the past it was bigger and called ‘Kaku-Kunda’. In 16th century ‘Sati-Ango’ ( the right toe of Sati) was discovered from this tank. This tank is well known for its power to bestow the boon of a child. The water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges. Efforts at draining the water from the tank for cleaning has failed in the past showing the possibility of a subterranean with Adi Ganga.
Nakhuleshwar Mahadev Temple
This Siva temple is dedicated to the consort of Maa Kali. It is situated in Haldar Para lane on the opposite side of the temple behind the police station. This temple is also very old and mentioned in the history.
The four Shiva temples inside the temple were constructed by different shebait families who retain control over them. Kalighat is located in south Calcutta. Buses are available from all parts of Calcutta. All buses going to south Calcutta have to pass through Shyam Prasad Mukherjee road. The temple is off this road. You get down in Kalighat (Kalighat Tram Depot) bus stop and walk down the Kali Temple road to the temple. Kalighat is connected by Metro railway.
The nearest metro stations are Jatin Das Park and Kalighat. Please take the Northern exit in Jatin Das Park and the Southern exit in Kalighat. The steps in Jatin Das Park station are many and steep. There is an escalator part of the way in Kalighat station. It is advisable for elderly people to a light at the Kalighat station.
The temple is open from 5.00 A.M. to 2.00 P.M and 5.00 P.M to 10.30 P.M. It is closed from 2.00 P.M to 5.00 P.M. for Bhog. There are Aarthis in the morning and evening. If you want to avoid the crowds the best day to visit is Wednesday or Thursday. There is a general queue which is free. Other than the general queue there is a Sevaits/V.I.P/Staff queue. Other than these queues people muscle in by paying money. There are two queues. One for going to the Garbha Graha (Nijo -Mandir) and another for having Dharshan from the Varandah (Jor- bangla).
The queue going to the Garbha Graha (Nijo -Mandir) is more orderly, and is controlled by security guards and police men (at least on Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and festival days). The queue for the Varandah (Jor- bangla) is under the control of the Dalals and Pandas and they allow people to enter at different points. You are told by the Dalals and Pandas that it will take hours to have Dharshan in the Garbha Graha (Nijo -Mandir) and advised to go in the Varandah (Jor- bangla) queue. This information is incorrect. You can have better Dharshan in the Garbha Graha (Nijo -Mandir) and it does not take that long. It took 4.5 hours to 5 hours on Bangla New Year day and Bijoy Dhasami. Average 1 to 1.5 hours. You can also avoid the Dalals and Pandas.