Although we Indians are mostly followers of Hinduism, yet in different parts of the country, different deities or Gods are worshiped throughout the country. Bengal is the ssthal of Mother Goddesses, different incarnations of Parvati—Maa Kali being the foremost of them all. In fact, according to many, the name Kalikata (ancient name of Kolkata) was derived from Goddess Kali herself! Goddess Kali being the aradhya Devi of Bengal, you’ll see numerous ancient and famous Kali temples in West Bengal.
This list charts few of the famous Kali temples in and around Kolkata for those who yearn to travel around and see them—
One among the 51 Peetha sthaanas, Kiriteswari Temple is one of the oldest temples in the district of Murshidabad and is also known by the name Mukuteshwari temple. The present temple, however, was erected only in the 19th century by Darpanarayan, after the real temple was almost on the verge of destruction. According to belief, the “crown” or the kirit of Sati had fallen here. It is one among the handful of temples in Bengal where no deities but an auspicious black stone is worshipped!
Only 9 kilometers from Shantiniketan is Kankalitala, one of the 51 Shakti peethas where, according to legends, the Kankal or the waist of Goddess Sati had fallen. The temple might seem a normal rural temple situated amidst fields from afar, but once you’re there, you cannot help but feel a bit terrified. It’s weird, but true nevertheless.
Situated in the district of West Midnapore, near Chikligarh, the Kanak Durga Temple is one of the oldest in the area, and exemplifies a superior blend of Aryan and Non-Aryan cultures. The temple, situated amidst dense forests is known for fulfilling all your wishes, and according to legends, it is a place where no animals or vegetables were sacrificed, but only men were!
Situated in the picturesque town of Garbeta, the Sarva Mangala temple is known to be erected by Vikramaditya after the Goddess was pleased with him for his Tantric Sadhana over a dead body. In fact, it was with the Devi’s provision of supernatural powers to him that he was bestowed with the services of Tal and Betal. However, the most peculiar thing with this temple is its north-facing “dwaar” or door.
This 19th century temple is situated barely at a distance of 1.5 hours from Kolkata where Maa Kali, in the incarnation of Devi Hangsheshwari is prayed to. The crowns of the temples resemble one of the Walt Disney castles straight out of Disney Land while the adjoining Vasudeva Mandir is an exemplification of the glorious terracotta artworks of Bengal.
The Tripura Sundari Temple is located well within Kolkata, but sadly, not much is known about this temple. Here, at the feet of this deity, you’ll find the famous and much worshiped Pancha devatas or the Five Lords of Hinduism—Rudra, Ishwar, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwar. Here Ma Kali, in the form of Tripura Sundari, is worshiped and is positioned upon a Lotus that has come out of the navel of Shiva.
One of the majorly worshiped temples in Kolkata, the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is where Sri Ramakrishna used to worship his aradhya Devi Kali in the form of Jagadishwari Kalimata Thakurani. The temple is located right on the banks of the enormous Hoogly and is adorned by 12 identical Shiva temples.
One of the 51 Shakti Peethas, Tarapith Temple is located in Rampurhat, Birbhum district and is around 4.5 hours from Howrah by train. The temple, located just before a crematory ground, has Maa Tara as the residing deity. However, every day, the “actual” deity, Goddess Kali breast-feeding Lord Shiva, is offered prayers at 4AM sharp, and it is the only time when it is unveiled for the public. It is believed that an eye ball of Sati fell here at Tarapith.
The main temple of Kolkata, Kalighat Temple is located in the heart of the city in Kalighat. Although the temple was erected earlier than 15th century, its present magnanimous structure was formed only in the earlier part of the 19th century by King Manasingha. The deity of the temple is huge and doesn’t follow the same pattern of Kali images which is prayed to at other parts of Bengal. According to the legends, Goddess Sati’s right toe fell here, and is the world’s oldest continuously worshiped Maa Kali Temple.