In the realm of divine power, the Kalighat Temple in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, holds a special place. The Kalighat Temple is said to be the place where Sati's toes fell, giving the place its sacred status as a Shaktipeeth. The story and significance of Kalighat extend far back into the ancient past. It is considered to be one of the four 'Adi Shaktipeethas,' which are the oldest and most significant Shaktipeethas.
Kalighat derives its name from 'Kali', an awe-inspiring form of goddess Shakti, and 'ghat', signifying steps leading to a river. The Kalighat Temple is situated beside a stream of River Ganga called Adi Ganga. Did you know, even the name of the city of Kolkata is believed to originate from 'Kalikshetra,' meaning 'the place of Goddess Kali'.
The unique traditional architecture of the Kalighat Temple has made it an essential landmark of the cultural city of Kolkata. A beautiful dome (shikhara) stands at the centre with four towers on the flanks. The intricate carvings on the walls and ceilings are brought to life with vibrant colours. Inside the Kalighat Temple, there are shrines dedicated to Goddess Kali or Kalika; Lord Shiva in Bhairav form; and other forms of Devi Durga. The Shakti at Kalighat is called ‘Dakshina Kali’ while the intriguing statue of Bhairav is locally known as ‘Nakulish’ or ‘Nakuleshwar Mahadev’. The idol of Goddess Kali, made of a special black stone called ‘touchstone’, is striking – with her three enormous eyes; a long, gilded tongue; and four arms made of gold.
One of the most important events at Kalighat is the Kali Puja, celebrated in October or November, coinciding with Diwali. During the festivals, the temple is decorated beautifully, and devotees gather to offer prayers and enjoy the festivities. The famous idol of Kalika at Kalighat draws both tourists and celebrities from all over the world. You will be fascinated to know that many renowned cricketers, including the now-retired Sachin Tendulkar, have been known to visit Kalighat to seek blessings before a cricket match in Kolkata.
Despite its age, the temple structure we see today is not that old. Records from five hundred years ago tell us that the Kalighat Temple was an important pilgrimage site even back then. The temple was rebuilt in the 19th century by a devoted family. Around the temple, you can find lots of colourful shops selling flowers and sweets, adding to the lively atmosphere. Today, Kalighat Temple is not just a sacred site, but also a bustling part of Kolkata.