I am not particularly a religious type of person but Dakshineshwar Temple has always been appealing to me due its certain kind of mystical calmness. Situated on the eastern banks of the Hooghly river, it is a widely known Hindu temple which is devoted to the Goddess Kali. But its importance is far more than religion. Built in 1855 by a affluent noble lady called Rani Rashmoni, the temple was once the home of the great saint Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. It was he who taught the universal nature of God and oneness of religion from this very place and hence this temple is not just like any other religious institution .Unlike many other temples of our country, here one will find a serene and a peaceful ambiance without getting bothered by priests for donations and charity. The temple premises is a silent witness to many miracles and events and in this very place Swami Vivekananda had his spiritual realization which finally spread through the whole world as his teachings.
Today the temple is also a very famous pilgrimage spot and every year millions of visitors come here to pay their respect to the Bhavatarini Kali of this temple.
Along with the main Kali temple, there are 12 each of these Shiva temples, where in each of them a shivalinga made out of black stone has been installed. The sunrise and sunset are especially worth watching as it is situated on the banks of the Hooghly river, which is the Bengal leg of the great River Ganges coming all the way from the Himalayas. As the sun sets, the river water shines like liquid gold flowing undisturbed but only to let you watch its beauty as it continues its journey towards the sea.
Inside the temple complex, a must-watch is the room of Shri Ramakrishna. Here, in this room he stayed for 14 years and continued his work as the priest of this temple. His personal belongings have been beautifully preserved here and everyday temple staff cleans and prepares the room as it was during the days of Sri Ramakrishna.
Today, this temple is being managed by the Ramakrishna Mission, which was established by the chief principle of Shri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda. On the other side of the river, this organisation has its headquarters at the Belur Math. Again the math complex is equally enticing with its several gardens and the huge prayer hall.
How to reach: There are several cabs and buses available to reach the temple complex. Also, it has its own Dakshineshwar railway station which is connected with the Sealdah railway station.
When to visit: Please note that the temple remains closed every afternoon, once the temple deity is offered the mid-day meal. So, during the summer months of April to September, the temple remains open to the public from 6 a.m to 12.30 p.m and 3:30 p.m to 9:00 pm. And during the winter months of October to March, the timings for visiting the temple are 6:00 a.m to 12.30 p.m and 3:00 p.m to 8:30 pm.