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The divine seems to come alive when visiting the magnificent temples of West Bengal. They have stood witness to intense history of religion of people in the state. West Bengal is home to many important Hindu temples like Dakshineswar Temple and Kalighat Kali Temple that have made Bengal the a must visit for Hindu pilgrims. Not only are these temples visited by pilgrims; tourists too come here to experience the beauty of their architectural splendor. West Bengal is truly a secular state and tolerates many religion. You will find centuries old churches and mosques that have grown alongside the many Hindu Temples. Kolkata is the best example of unity in diversity as far as religion is concerned. The city is dotted with uncountable number of temples, big and small, famous and not so famous, all lending an air of divine and spirituality to the capital city. It is also the city where you get to see revered St. Paul’s Cathedral and Armenian Church. West Bengal is probably the most important destination for all Lord Krishna devotees as this is the state where the world headquarters of ISCKON (International Society For Krishna Consciousness) is situated. It is in the famous town of Mayapur.
Dedicated to Goddess Bhavatarini, an aspect of Goddess Kali, Dakshineswar Temple is situated on the eastern side of River Hooghly in Dakshineswar locality of Kolkata. The construction of the temple was started in the year 1847 by Queen Rasmani and was completed in 1855. It was consecrated in the same year. Covering nearly 25 acres of land, Dakshineswar Temple is one of the largest temples in Kolkata. There are 9 spired main temples dedicated to Goddess Kali and 12 shrines along the boundary wall dedicated to Lord Shiva. Along the riverfront, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. According to the legend, Goddess Kali came in the dreams of Queen Rasmani prior to the day when she was to leave for a pilgrimage to Benaras. Goddess advised the queen not to go to Benaras and build a temple on the banks of River Ganges there itself. She would manifest the image and accept worships. It was then the land was bought and the temple was built. It is also said that it was here the great Saint Ramakrishna attained his spiritual vision.
The Kalighat Kali Temple is a temple for the Hindus, which is devoted to Kali, the Hindu Goddess. The temple is also one of the 51 Shakti Peethas where it is believed that different body portions of Sati had fallen at the time when God Shiva was performing the Rudra Tandava dance. The Kalighat Kali Temple is situated on the banks of the Hooghly or Adi Ganga River in Kolkata. Religious devotees from different parts of India visit this temple for offering their homage to Goddess Kali. The architectural pattern followed for constructing this temple was Bengal architecture which prevailed in the medieval period. It is the place where the toes of the right foot of Sati or Dakshayani were dropped. The various aspects to look for in the temple are Sosthi Tala, Nat Mandir, Jor-Bangla, Radha-Krishna Temple, Harkath Tala, and Kundapukur.
Mayapur is situated on the riverbanks of the Ganga, at a location where it meets the Jalangi. It is a small city in Nadia district of West Bengal. Mayapur is famous for housing the headquarters of ISKCON or the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The distance of Mayapur from Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal is around 130 km. It is well-known for being the hometown of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered as the re-embodiment of Lord Krishna in the temper of Radha. Lakhs of people come here to visit the prime attraction of the area which is the Samadhi Mandir of Srila Prabhupada, who founded ISKCON. There is also a museum where the life of Prabhupada has been portrayed with various showcases. People also come to visit the Gaudiya Math and other Vaishnava religious sites in the place.
Tarakeshwar is one of the major religious sites in the state of West Bengal. The main tourist draw of Tarakeshwar is the Taraknath Temple. Religious people come to this place around the year, particularly on Mondays. However, countless devotees throng the place on the holy occasion of ‘Shivaratri’, which takes place in the Bengali month of Srabana or July-August as well as ‘Gajan’. Tarakeshwar is a municipality and town which forms a part of the Hooghly district of West Bengal. It is the most important religious site for the Shaivites in Bengal. Trains are frequently available from Howrah station.
Tarapith is a well-known religious site situated in the Birbhum district of West Bengal. Tarapith is famous for the Tantric temple and its bordering cremation grounds where Tantric rituals are carried out. The Hindu Tantric temple is devoted to Tara, the Hindu deity who is regarded as a dreaded and fearful Tantric facet of the Hindu Divine Mother. The principal temple is visited by many people who belong to the Shakta community of Hinduism. The name Tarapith was originated from its relation as the most sacred place for revering Tara and her sect. The nearest city of Tarapith is Rampurhat. It is one of the Shakthi Peethas and is also known for Bamakhepa, also called as the ‘mad saint’. Bamakhepa stayed in the cremation grounds and idolized in the temple as a beggar. He performed and honed Yoga and the Tantric rituals under the guidance of Kailashpathi Baba, another well known holy person. Bama Khepa devoted his whole life for paying homage to the goddess Tara. The place of religious retreat set up by him lies near the temple as well.
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