Dakshineswar Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Deity: Goddess Kali
Location: Kolkata
Built in: 1885
Built by: Rani Rashmoni
STD Code: 033
Best time to visit: October to March

The Dakshineswar Kali Temple located in Dakshineswar locality, Kolkata. Situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali.

The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, contains a large courtyard surrounding the temple, with rooms along the boundary walls. There are twelve shrines dedicated to the aspects of Shiva, Kali’s companion, along the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a bookshop, a shrine to Rani Rashmoni. The chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples is where Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa spent a considerable part of his life. It is Holiest place in the Universe.

Dakshineswar Ramakrishna Sangha Adyapath operates in the region. The compound contains many orphanages, schools and homes for elderly people. The organization has been dedicated to the great spiritual leader.

In the year 1847, the wealthy widow queen Rani Rashmoni prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred city of Banaras to express her devotions to the Divine Mother. In those days there was no railway line between Calcutta and Banaras and it was more comfortable for rich persons to make the journey by boat rather than by road. We are told that the convoy of Rani Rashmoni consisted of twenty four boats carrying relatives, servants, and supplies.

But the night before the pilgrimage began, the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali, intervened. She appeared to the Rani in a dream and said, “There is no need to go to Banaras. Install my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the Gangas River and arrange for my worship there. Then I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship at that place.” Profoundly affected by the dream, the Rani immediately looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction of the temple. The large temple complex, built between 1847 and 1855, had as its centerpiece a shrine of the goddess Kali. A scholarly and elderly sage was chosen as the head priest and the temple was consecrated in 1855. Within the year this priest died and his responsibility passed to his younger brother, Ramakrishna, who over the next thirty years would bring great fame to the Dakshineswar temple.

Places of Interest:
To the north of the Kali-temple is a Dalan of Radha-Krishna. To the west, twelve Siva temples of Bengali atchala style stand in rows on the Hughli River with a ‘chandni-bathing ghat’, which is flanked by these Shiva temples, six each on either side. The temple compound on three sides – north, east and south – are enclosed by rows of guestrooms and offices.

How to reach:
by Air: Kolkata is well connected by air to all major countries in the world, as well as to Indian cities.
by Rail: Trains are available from all parts of the country to Calcutta. Most inward bound trains stop at Howrah, which is also the station from which major trains to other cities depart.
by Road: A few buses ply from Orissa and Bihar to Calcutta Buses are also available to nearby towns.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Kalka Devi, New Delhi, Delhi, India

Deities: Goddess Kalka
Location: Nehru Place, New Delhi
Built in: 1764
Significance: Shrine of ancient origin
Best Time to Visit: February to March and September to November

Situated beyond the commercial complex of Nehru Place lies Kalkaji temple dedicated to the Goddess Kalka Devi. Kalkaji mandir is very famous and has numerous devotees thronging it on many religious occasions, throughout the year. Small red flags decorate the temple then, and women outnumber men among the devotees. Folklore is replete with tales of the Kalkaji temple, so much so that one does not know where legend ends and history begins.

This is a very old temple and the oldest part was built up in 1764 A.D. The Kali Temple in Kalkaji boasts of an existence of 3,000 years, although the oldest surviving portion of it dates to 1764-1771 when the Marathas were in power. Looking at the present-day Kalkaji temple one may find it hard to believe that this shrine to Kali is an antique one, where perhaps even the Pandavs and Kauravs had worshiped during the reign of Yudhisthir, whose citadel of Indraprastha had the fabled fairy gates of which bards sang, much like Homer of old.

The devotees are overwhelmed by light, which stay during the whole night. The power of Ma Kali is ambiguous but powerful. Devotees also try to meditate there and a spectacular tantric aarati is held at about 7 pm. The temple is also quite near to the Bahai Temple, which is just opposite on the other side of a big road.

This domed twelve-sided temple is devoted to Goddess Kalka Devi, a reincarnation of Goddess Durga. The oldest section of the Kalka Ji Mandir dates back to the year 1734. It is said that the Maratha rulers looted the temple in the year 1738, after the Mughals in the battle of Talkatora defeated them. Somewhere in the mid-19th century, Raja Kedarnath, the treasurer of Emperor Akbar, carried out certain changes and additions on this temple.

Kalkaji Temple has been constructed completely out of marble and black pumice stones. The entire structure is devoid of any ostentation and comes across as very plain and simple. Everyday, the idol of the deity is bathed with milk in the morning and an aarti is conducted in the evening. People coming to the temple can purchase offering from the vendors sitting just before its entrance. In the backyard of the main structure is an inn, which is known as Kali Dharamshala.

According to legend, every day a cow gave all her milk to Goddess Kalkaji. The owner of the cow was a farmer, who built a temple in her honour. Visitors should be alert in the area as the place is very crowded and there can be few anti-social elements (pickpockets) after your wallet or precious possessions. Offerings can be purchased just before the entrance of the temple.

Still, the temple holds a very modern and contemporary look. The temple gains special importance during the period of Navratras, which lasts for almost nine days. At that time, a fair is held at the Delhi Kalkaji Temple and is attended by thousands of devotees. One can hoards of hawkers near the temple during the fair, which are often accompanied by groups singing hymns and songs eulogizing the Goddess.

Other Temples in Delhi:
Chattarpur Mandir
Akshardham Mandir
Gauri Shanker Temple
Hanuman Mandir
Isckon Temple
Kali Bari Mandir
Sheetla Devi Temple
Lakshmi Narayan Temple
Lotus Temple
Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir
Sai Baba Mandir

How to reach:
by Air: The Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi have both domestic as well as international terminals. It is well connected to almost all the cities of the world as well as every city in India.
by Rail: There are a number of railway stations in Delhi that connect it to almost each and every city in the country, major or minor.
by Road: All the main cities of India are linked with Delhi by a network of highways and roads. One can easily reach Kalka Devi Temple by taking local Buses, metro, auto rickshaws or by hiring taxis from Delhi.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Deities: Goddess Vaishnavi
Location: Katra, 61-km from Jammu, J&K
Altitude: 1,700m (5,100ft)
Best Time to Visit: March to July and September to October

Faith has moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir the call of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Vaishno Devi is one of the holiest Hindu Pilgrimage sites which are dedicated to Goddess Shakti. The temple is located around 12 km away from Katra in the Udhampur district. The temple is situated at an altitude of 1615 m on the Trikuta Hills of Shivalik Range. Pilgrims, especially Hindus from all over the world visit Vaishno Devi making it the second most visited shrine in India after Tirupati Balaji Mandir.

The Vaishno Devi yatra is probably the most hallowed pilgrimage of Northern India and attracts over five million devotees a year. It entails a 13.5 km trek from Katra, which in turn is 61 km from Jammu. It is situated at an altitude of 1,700m. The abode of the goddess is in the mountains of Trikuta Hills, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in north India.

The Goddess resides in a beautiful cave in the form of three ‘Pindis’ in the name of, “Maha Kali”, “Maha Laxmi” and “Maha Saraswati”. According to legends Goddess Durga has killed the demon Bhairon here. The cave ideally handles just 8 or 10 thousand people a day, as only 12 or 15 people are let into the cave at a time. On the full moon day in Kartika (October/ November) the line to get into the cave can be 4-km long. It is believed that the arm of Goddess Sati fell at this place.

Vaishno Devi only when the Goddess herself wants them to and beckons them. If you are reading this, probably this is your call for making the holiest trip of your life. Come prepared to lose your old self and find the new you who will be more wise and chaste.

The journey amidst snow capped mountains and sprawling forests arise from within the holy shrine of Maa Vaishno Devi. There is a common faith among the folk that Goddess-Vaishno sends a ‘Call’ to her devotees and that once a person receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine of the great Goddess. A supernatural power seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights step by step, chanting

‘Prem se bolo, Jai Mata Di’.

Discovery of the Holy Shrine:
According to a legend the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi was discovered by a Brahmin, Pandit Sridhar about a thousand years ago. He used to live in Hansali village at the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains. One day, as he was grazing cattle, he met a beautiful child, Vaishnavi, on the hills. She urged him to call the people of his village to a feast. By mid-day when his guests arrived he had still not made arrangements for any provisons.

Suddenly, he saw Vaishnavi coming out of his hut and she asked Sridhar to call his guests saying the food was ready. He watched in amazement as all the villagers went inside his small hut and finished their meal. As they left, he called out to young Vaishnavi knowing that the answer to the mystery lay with her. But she was not to be found.

His search for her led him to a cave up a cliff where he thought he spied her. But in vain. As he wept in anguish a light shone on him, and he had a vision: Vaishnavi was transformed into a transcendental beauty with eight arms and astride a lion. She told him she was Shakti and in this cave she was manifested in her three forms of Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Sridhar’s progeny have been worshipping the Goddess in this Holy Cave since those hoary days!

Other Shrines at Vaishno Devi:
Bhumika Temple
Ban Ganga Temple
Charan Paduka Temple
Ardh Kuwari
The Sri Ram Temple
The Bhairon (Bhairav) Temple

How to reach:
Vaishno Devi is located 14-km from the town of Katra and 52-km north of Jammu. Katra is situated at 2,800 feet and takes about 2 hours to reach from Jammu by bus.
by Air: The nearest airport is in Jammu, which is 48-km from Katra. There is a helicopter service that departs from the airport at Sanjhi Chat in Jammu in the morning.
by Rail: The nearest railway station is in Jammu, which is well connected to all the major cities in India.
by Road: There are regular buses leaving for the 52-km trip from the central bus stand in Jammu to where the road ends at Katra (2 hr). Walking From Katra it is a steep 13-km walk. You can rent a horse or be carried up from Katra. You can go up to the cave and back in the same day. It takes about 4 hours to climb up and 3 hours to come down. Pilgrims must get a Yatra- Slip from the tourist reception center near the bus stand in Katra to get passes Ban Ganga. It is hard climb to Vaishno Devi.

Visit www.eTirth.com for more information on Temples, Ashrams, Gurus, Festival and Daily Panchangam (Hindu ephemeris).

If you love to read visit www.KathaVarta.org for Religious stories.

Last but not least, if you want to visit above Holy Pilgrimage, please contact and visit our associate partner www.YatraKhoj.com and e-mail at yatrakhoj@yahoo.com.
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