– Dr A Pranesh
Kali temple at Kalighat, Kolkata is situated on the bank of river Adi Ganga. The name Kolkata is believed to have come from Kalighat. Kalighat was a ghat or a landing point for a boat to the sacred temple of Kali. In the course of time, the river has moved away and the present temple is on the bank of a small canal called Adi Ganga, which was the original course of Hooghly River (Ganga). Hence the name of the river is Adi Ganga.
Kalighat Kali temple is the place where Sati Devi’s toes of right foot had fallen. Originally the temple was just a hut, but in 16th century, King Manasingha built a small temple. The present temple was built in 1809 by Sabarna Roy Chowdhary’s family.
The idol of Goddess Kali is made of touch stone by two saints – Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. It has three huge eyes, a long protruding tongue and four arms all covered with gold. The Idol carries a scimitar in one hand and a severed head of demon king Shumba on the other. The scimitar signifies knowledge and severed head signifies ignorance. Third hand has abhaya mudra and the fourth varada mudra.
Temple is crowded most of the time. The entry to darshan is from the rear side of the temple which is inconspicuous. So people normally try to enter the temple from front which is not only crowded but also guarded by pandas, who fleece money from innocent devotees who line up for darshan. As a matter of fact, entry from rear end has railings which lead us to devi’s sanctum straight, but one has to come in queue. But this is not advised by local pandas at all.
Overall temple is old and idol of Kali is enchanting.