West Bengal

Temples, Shrines And Spiritual Places Across West Bengal

West Bengal is endowed with distinct natural attractions like magnificent mountain range, forests, diverse wildlife, verdant tea gardens, meandering rivers, sandy beaches and the world’s largest mangrove forests along the Sunderban delta. West Bengal is also well known for its great historic and religious significance. The name West Bengal (also known as “Paschim Banga”) is an amalgamation of words “West” (“Paschim”) and “Bengal” (“Banga”). The state gets its name from the ancient kingdom of Banga. Kolkata is the capital and the largest city of the state of West Bengal.

The temples of West Bengal are the reflection of wonderful architectural ideas and the rich cultural heritage of this land. Holy places like Iskon in Mayapur, or Dakshineswar Kali Temple on the banks of the holy river Ganga are the finest examples for any religious expeditions. The beauty of the Mayapur Iskcon Chandrodaya temple makes you feel the divine vibe of Lord Krishna, it is India’s largest Iskcon temple that defines the monotheistic nature of Hinduism.

Who doesn’t know the name of Swami Vivekananda, the disciple of Sri Ramkrishna!, and with this name the place that is very intimately connected is Belur Math. The place tells us the story of Ramkrishna math and mission. On the other side of the Hooghly River, opposite to the Belur Math, is Dakshineswar Temple. The Dakshineswar Kali temple constructed in the 19th century carries the sacred essence of Goddess Kali. The serenity of the river Ganges and the wonderful constructional beauty will amaze its visitors. The Kalighat Kali Temple near Kolkata is another sacred temple and pilgrimage center dedicated to Goddess Kali. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, the site where the toes of the right foot of Devi Sati fell.  Thanthania Kalibari is a famous Kali temple, the small holy idol of Mata Siddheshwari enriches the place with divinity and sanctity. Birla Mandir is a famous temple that adorns the heritage of Kolkata, the sharp contrast of contemporary design and the additional cultural flavor is very prominent and the minute details of Lord Krishna and Devi Radha are being reflected over the place.

West Bengal has a religious significance for every spiritual person. To see the picturesque view of the high green hills and to feel the inner serenity and peace every year numbers of visitors visit the Old Ghoom Monastery in Darjeeling. The main attraction of this famous monastery is the 15 feet statue of the Maitreya Buddha and the Tibetan Gospel. Pareshnath Temple in Kolkata is a Jain temple very popular among the Jain community. The temple includes 4 sub-temples which are adorned with bright colored stones.

Fairs and Festivals

West Bengal is enriched with the fun, grandeur, and significance of various joyous and cheerful fairs and festivals. Bengalis often say Baro Mashe Tero Parbon, meaning thirteen festivals in twelve months, and these celebrations reflect the culture, heritage, and traditional jovial nature of this state.

Durga Puja is one of the grandest festivals of Bengal that puja celebrates the victory of Goddess Durga over the devil Mahishashura. This festival is celebrated for four days during Navaratri, every year. The month-long Rash Mela (fair) is organized in Cooch Bihar in the month of Kartik to promote the art and craft of the state. The festival of Rash Mela celebrates the divine love of Lord Sri Krishna and Devi Radha.

Gangasagar Mela is another important annual festival that is held in Sagardwip, the point where the river Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal. The festival is celebrated during mid-January, on the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. It is believed that if one bathes in the Ganga in Sagardwip during the festival, he/she would be cleansed of all sins. The devotees after taking a dip in Ganga, visits the ashram-temple of Kapil Muni for blessings.

Saraswati Puja (Devi Saraswati is believed to be the goddess of learning), is held during the time of Vasanta Panchami, which celebrates the beginning of spring. The district of Birbhum is famous for its traditional fair named Kenduli Mela. This folk festival is mostly organized by the Baul community. Another popular fair of west Bengal is Poush Mela that takes place in Santiniketan, which includes folk music, regional crafts, and some mouth-watering sweet dishes termed as Pithe. Kolkata is also famous for the world’s largest non-trade book fair, it is a great reflection of the old traditional heritage of the city of Kolkata.