Two of my dream places that I always wanted to visit were Dakshineswar and Kolkata, yes to experience the land that has been hallowed by great saints like Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda and Sarada Matha. Ever since I read the accounts of Sri Paramahansa Yogananda in his Autobiography of a Yogi about his experience at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, I felt compelled to visit Dakshineswar. Believe me, till today, the few hours I’d spent at the two Kali temples were of immense memory that I shall name Dakshineswar and Kolakatta as my favourite places.
The Drive to Dakshineswar
From Kolkatta Airport, we reached the other side of the road by an auto Rickshaw, from where we boarded a local bus to Dakshineswar. The journey to Dakshineswar has stayed fresh in my mind, like the feeling of a new bride returning back to her parental home for the first time. Hailing from the South, we were total strangers to this land. But it was easier to make our travel to the place than we would have in our own place. People of Kolkatta were unbelievably friendly. Even strangers on the bus could strike casual conversations with each other as though they were neighbours for several years; something that I’ve seen in the South. And when I touched the soil of the temple premises, it was an awe-inspiring feeling! Every wall and every air I had breathed inside the temple, I was reminded of the presence of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Though we could get Ma Kali’s darshan for just a few seconds, Her presence could be felt everywhere in Dakshineswar.
The Dakshineswar to Kolkatta Connection
The best boat ride I’ve ever experienced in my life is from Dakshineswar to Belur. The warmth of the waters and the joy seen in the little boys enjoying their dives still permeates through my being. The scenic boat ride proved a great connectivity option from Dakshineswar to Kolkatta instead of taking the road route. One that we could easily reach Belur to witness the land of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and also we could cherish half an hour’s time through the serene waters. Again from Belur Mutt, we could easily get a tuk tuk to reach the main road from where a local bus took us to the main city of Kolkatta.
The Design of Kolkatta
We were never stranded on the roads in Kolkatta. Local buses, tram, ferry rides, yellow taxis, trains, tuk tuks…….the city is greatly designed for fantastic transport systems. Howrah station is reachable from almost parts of the city from where we could travel by train to anywhere. I admired the dynamic connectivity that Kolkatta offers its residents and tourists. Especially, yellow taxis were abundant and the rides were of reasonable rates.
Our visit to the Kalighat Kali temple was another dream-come-true place. Though a small temple, the divine vibration of Ma Kali was all powerful. For an ardent devotee of Ma Kali, Dakshineswar and Kalighat temples were like the birth place of Kali Ma. What I missed to witness was the city during the times of Navrathri. Certainly, my next visit to Kolkatta would be during Durga Puja.