Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Day 4 Kolkata

Today we were meet in the hotel by Alex who will be our guide today with the taxi and indian speaking driver.

Pictures of the bus and taxi’s in the streets.

We started the day by going to the GPO to send a parcel home for Anique, in the street surrounding the post office were gentlemen who package up the goods and sew them into calico parcels with the stitching wax sealed. Another lovely old fashioned service of Kolkata. The gentlemen is pictured below he had been doing this for 50 years.

We then drove to the River Ganges and whilst Anique sat by the river Alex and I walked along the pathway which was so green and beautiful in comparison to the city. It was wonderful to see the Mother Ganga in person and experience her essence. We stopped at a ghat a cemented stairway into the river which was dedicated to those grieving the loss of someone important in their lives. It is the Hindu tradition of shaking off the hair and offering this to the river for the rememberance of the person passed over.

This is the local train service many carriages not even having seating, so different to home.

After our walk along the river we drove to the Botanical Gardens to see the famous Banyan Tree, I don’t believe I have ever seen a Banyan Tree before with the tree dropping roots from the branches and new trees growing and spreading. Within the branches were beautiful ferns a very lush and lovely sight.

Anique stopped and sang to the glory of mother nature and the many school children and teachers who must have been there on an excursion stopped in awe of this Caucasian lady singing to the trees. There would have been 50 – 80 people gathered around by the time she finished quite extraordinary.

We then drove to see the Kalighat Kali Temple a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
The original temple was a small hut. A small temple was constructed by King Manasingha in the early Sixteenth century. The present temple was erected under the patronage of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Banisha. It was completed in 1809.

Kalighat was a Ghat (landing stage) sacred to Kali on the old course of the Hooghly river (Bhāgirathi) in the city of Calcutta. The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. The river over a period of time has moved away from the temple. The temple is now on the banks of a small canal called Adi Ganga which connects to the Hoogly. The Adi Ganga was the original course of the river Hoogly (the Ganges). Hence the name Adi (original) Ganga.

Kalighat is regarded as one of the 52 Shakti Peethams of India, where the various parts of Sati's body are said to have fallen, in the course of Shiva's Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Shakti or Sati fell.

It is a very famous place and a pilgrimage for Shakta (Shiva and Durga/Kali/Shakti worshippers) followers within the Hindu religion.

This lovely pottery hanging was in the shop where we sat and waited for the temple to open and the Brahmin to take us in to see the Statue of Kali.

The image of Kali in this temple is unique. It does not follow the pattern of other Kali images in Bengal. The present idol of touchstone was created by two saints - Brahmananda Giri and Atmaram Giri. Three huge eyes, long protruding tongue made of gold and four hands, which all are made of gold too. Two of these hands holding a scimitar and a severed head of the asura king 'Shumbha'. The scimitar signifies Divine Knowledge and the asura (or, human) head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and hereafter.

As no photography can be taken in the temple this photo from the internet shows this image.

When in the temple there were many men standing around the statue they are not Priests of the temple they are the employees of the Phaledar. I was astounded at the behavior in the Garbagraha of the temple was like with pushing a shoving like a football match, which seems to lack any reverence to me, we were surrounded by our Brahmin men to keep us safe. The Brahmin who takes care of the Deity has a hereditary right.

After being in the temple we went outside to the Sosthi Tala a large rectangular covered platform called a Natmondir, adjacent to the main temple, from where the face of the image can be seen. About three feet high bearing a small cactus plant. Beneath the tree, on an altar three stones are placed side by side - left to right representing the Goddesses "Sosthi", "Sitola", and "Mongol Chandi". This sacred spot is known as Sosthi Tala or Monosha Tala. This altar was constructed By Gobinda Das Mondal in 1880. The place of the altar is the Samadhi of Brahmananda Giri. Here all the priests are female. The Goddesses here are considered as part of MAA Kali.

We were allowed into this shrine with our Brahmin and there was a priest who performed prayers for us to the goddess. Again the below photo is from the internet.

Also near  this shrine is the spot adjacent to the Natmondir, southwards meant for Bhali. There are two Bhali Peet for animal sacrifices side by side. These are known as Hari- Kath.

The bigger one is for buffalo sacrifices and the smaller one for goats and sheep. The animals are sacrificed with a single stroke of the knife and there is very little cruelty to animals when compared to the professional abattoirs. The meat from these animals is then used to feed the poor, so in truth it is the temples way of providing for the masses rather than sacrifice in the true sense of the world.

Here Anique is processing the experience of the temple.

We then drove to the Birla Mandir  a Hindu, built by the industrialist Birla family. Also known as Lakshmi Narayan Temple, the Birla temple is known for its creative architectural designs and aesthetic surroundings.

The interiors of Birla Mandir are jaw-drop gorgeous, with wonderful marble finishing. The engravings in marble are blended with the intricate Rajasthani architecture, to give a unique touch to the building. The electric diyas and wonderful chandeliers add to its charm. The exteriors of this colossal temple have been done with sandstone. The construction of this building took about 26 years to be completed, before it was opened to public in 1996. The main temple houses statues of deities Krishna and Radha.

The left side temple shikhar (dome) houses goddess Durga, the Hindu goddess of Shakti, the power. The right side dome of the temple houses Shiva in meditation mode.

Spread on 44 kathas of land, this temple built of white marble bears resemblance to the renowned Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar. Birla Mandir also showcases pictorial depiction of scriptures of Bhagavad Gita in its stone engravings and some intricate Rajasthani temple architecture. Designed by the architect Nomi Bose.

We then ended the day at the shop Alex works for before heading back to the hotel after a wonderful day.

1 comment:

Gabby Emmerton said...

India looks amazing. Looks like you are having a wonderful time. Learning lots .......about India?