Kolkata, India’s second-largest city, located on India’s Eastern Coast, boasts of being an artistic, cultural and intellectual capital of the country. Its streets and bylanes are vivid, hectic, chaotic, and yet, brimming with life and creativity, and soaked in layers of heritage and culture. The city served as the erstwhile capital of the British empire before the government was shifted to Delhi, and thus features a unique touch of its royal past lingering in every nook and cranny. The metropolitan city is famous for its vibrant cultural and historical places and ethnicity and is a divine hub for innumerable temples, many of which are extensive pilgrimage sites.
The city houses plenty of ghats across its vast expanse, where you can sit and enjoy a sunset while sipping on piping hot tea or if you are in the mood for some adventure, you can embark on a boat ride or cruise at the beautiful waterfront park, Millennium Park. Kolkata is not only the land of festivals and celebrations; it is also a destination for immense devotion and is an interesting and extremely wonderful city in terms of religious expeditions. It is home to several worship places, belonging to different religions, from some of the most fascinating temples, churches and mosques to imposing domes, minarets and synagogues that display excellent craftsmanship in terms of architecture and are well-known for their festive and celebratory mood. There are lots of pilgrimage destinations and sacred places in Kolkata that will energize you and take you into a completely different world that will relax your mind, body and soul.
Being a city of spiritual importance, there are a lot of beautiful and well-known holy places to visit in Kolkata which provide a religious as well as cultural insight into the rich heritage of the city. Kolkata has great historical and religious significance and features as an ancient seat of learning in the holy Hindu texts. With an astonishing medley of history, culture, architecture, art and innumerable diverse religious sites in Kolkata, travellers are bound to be thoroughly engaged. For history buffs or people with interest in Indian mythology, this great place will give you a unique insight into its heritage sites, culture, traditions and people through its beautiful temples that are scattered all over.
While the places remain evergreen round the year, October to March is considered as the best time to visit Kolkata, when the weather remains delightful to enjoy your sightseeing plans as the entire place looks spellbinding with temperatures hovering at a pleasant 24 degree Celsius. Summers are comparatively humid with temperatures soaring to as high as 41 degrees Celsius. Being a popular tourist destination, there is no dearth of places for a plush and affordable stay in Kolkata, and the city has a host of opulent hotels and resorts to help you discover and find delightful and authentic experiences as per your taste and pocket size.
From a plethora of ancient temples, imposing museums and colorful streets to lively bazaars, urban chic neighborhoods, and immaculate gardens, Kolkata offers its visitors an abundance of holy places to visit. Below is a list of top seven temples in Kolkata that speak out loud of the city’s cultural and religious heritage.
Touted as one of the greatest and most famous religious sites in Kolkata, this holy place is a beautiful spiritual retreat for the people of Kolkata who pray to Goddess Kali with great devotion. Located adjacent to the banks of river Hooghly, this temple is thronged by a profusion of pilgrims every day. Dating back to the 15th century, it is one of the 52 holy Shaktipeeths in the country. Goddess Kali is the Mother Goddess of the city and is worshipped with great dedication and faith by its locals and tourists alike. The sanctum sanctorum houses the statue of the Goddess, composed of black stone, embellished with gold jewelry. The temple attracts thousands of devotees during the holy months of Bhadra, Paush, and Chaitra.
Address: Anami Sangha, Kalighat, on the banks of Adi Ganga River, Kolkata
Timings: 5:30 AM to 1:30 PM and 5 PM to 10:30 PM, open all days
The magnificent Birla Mandir was built by the renowned Birla family of India and is a shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha. This temple has been constructed using sandstone and pearl white marble and features the best of the traditional style of architecture with modern reflections. The construction of this spectacular marvel began in the year 1970 and after meticulous work spanning over close to 3 decades, it reached its completion in 1996. The elegant patterns on the wall of the temple are sculpted by the artisans specially called from Agra, Mirzapur, and Muzaffarpur, and bears a heavy resemblance to the Lingaraj Temple located in Bhubaneswar. Other deities revered here are Lord Ganesha, Lord Hanuman, Lord Shiva, ten avatars of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Durga. As the dusk approaches, the beautiful temple complex is a sight to behold, decorated with electric diyas and gleaming chandeliers along with continuous chanting of the evening aarti that adds to its spiritual environ.
Address: 29, Old Ballygunge Road, Ashutosh Chowdary Avenue, Kolkata
Timings: 5:30 AM to 11 AM and 4:30 PM to 9 PM, open all days
Thanthania Kalibari is one of the oldest religious sites in Kolkata dedicated to Goddess Kali, who is worshipped in the form of Mata Siddheswari here. The temple was built in 1803, and every year, the small clay idol of the Goddess, enshrined in the temple, is replaced. Tuesdays and Saturdays are considered to be the sanctified days of Mata Siddheswari and hence regarded as the best days to visit this temple. Visiting the temple on any ‘Amavasya’ or Lunar Eclipse or on the day of Kali Puja, is also considered auspicious.
Address: College Street Market, northern Kolkata
Timings: 6 AM to 11 AM and 4 PM to 7 PM, open all days
One of the most sacred and visited places in Kolkata for the Jain community, Pareshnath Jain Temple consists of a group of 4 temples, of which the main one is dedicated to the 10th Jain Tirtankhar, Sri Sheetal Nath. Apart from being known for its religious sanctity, the place is also
known for its architectural magnificence, the beauty of which is enhanced by mirror inlaid pillars, coloured stones and marble flooring. The temple complex also houses a beautiful garden with colourful flower beds, fountains, a reservoir that is home to some fishes and a mesmerizing stream flowing through it.
Address: Badri Das Temple Street, Northeast Kolkata
Timings: 6 AM to 11 AM and 5 PM to 7:30 PM, open all days
Out of the umpteen holy places to visit in Kolkata, the Dakshineshwar Temple, located near the Bally Bridge, on the banks of the River Ganga, is one of the most famous. Spread over a sprawling 25 acres of land, the temple is renowned for its association with the great philosopher Sri Ramkrishna Paramhans. It is believed that this is the divine place of Pramhans’ holy enlightenment; the place where he received a spiritual vision and had a holy glance of Mother Kali.
Address: Eastern Bank of Hogghly River, Kolkata
Timings: 5:30 AM to 12 PM and 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM, open all days
Belur Math is one of the important pilgrimage places established in 1938 by Swami Vivekananda, the disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, as a gesture of paying homage to his guru. The temple encompasses a big prayer hall, where you can find the towering statue of Ramakrishna, a beautiful monastery and several temples dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi Swami Vivekananda and Swami Brahmananda. The temple was built on the principle of universal faith, which can be seen in its architectural design that exhibits a blend of temple, church and mosque motifs, as a symbol of religious fraternity. Today, the architectural wonder stands as the hub of the world-famous spiritual movement, Ramakrishna Movement, and is thronged by thousands of tourists from India and abroad, every day.
Address: Belur, Howrah, on the banks of the Hooghly River, Kolkata
Timings: 6 AM to 12 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM, open all days
Constructed in 1912, Agni Mandir is one of the eccentric sacred places in Kolkata that worships the Fire God and serves as the center of the Parsi traditions here. On the top floor of the temple, is perched a guarded place where the eternal fire or Agni burns constantly throughout the day. This place is however reserved and not accessible to the general public. However, the revered image of the flame is displayed on the first floor, for visitors to see. Typically a Parsi worship place, it is visited by people of all religions, from across India, with the same regard. Owing to the rare availability of Parsi worship sites in the city, this temple has become the center of Parsi prayers, rituals and events in the city, and is regarded as an epitome of Parsi architectural finesse.
Address: Chandni Chawk, Bowbazar, Metcalfe Lane, Kolkata
Timings: 5 AM to 12 PM and 5 PM to 10 PM, open all days
Kolkata is the land of religion, faith, and merry-making. People from many religions dwell and survive here with much ease. The city houses several shrines and sacred places associated with various religions in the city. Kolkata is truly an enthralling religious destination, covered in the holy blanket of spirituality and devotion. So, this coming holiday season, if you plan to visit this charming city, and want to take a plunge into the world of spiritualism and embark on a pilgrimage tour with your family, start packing your bags. And make sure to mark the above historically and culturally significant sacred places on your checklist.
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