Kali is the goddess of Death, Destruction, Doomsday and time. She is considered a strong mother figure but also associated with sexuality and violence. She is the incarnation of Goddess Parvathi, the wife of Lord Shiva. The Kalighat Temple is dedicated to this compound goddess, who is both a destroyer and a liberator.
The Temple is located in the city of Kolkata on a ghat in the old course of the famous Hooghly river of Bhagirathi. The river initially ran right next to the temple but over time moved away from it. It is said that the name “Calcutta” was derived from Kalighat. Now the temple has a small canal called Adi Ganga that runs next to it. It is called Adi (original) Ganga because it was the original course of the river Hooghly. The temple is very famous and has people from all over the country visiting it.
It is one amongst the 51 Shakti Peeth’s in the world and one of the four in India. Shakti Peeths are shrines and pilgrimage destinations in shaktism, which according to Hindu tradition is Goddess focused. It is said that the various body parts of Sati (Shiva’s wife) fell on earth when she burnt herself as an act of self-sacrifice. One of her body part i.e. her right toe fell on this very spot and a temple was erected to commemorate the Goddess. The presiding deity in this temple is Goddess Kalika.
The temple in its present form is said to be only 200 years old. It does however have reference in the 15th century Mansar Bhasan and the 17th century Kavi Kankan Chandi. The proof of the antiquity of this place can be made out by the coins found here at Kalighat of Chadragupta II. The temple was initially just a small hut. A tiny temple was built on this by King Manasingha in the early 16th century. The Subarna Roy Chowdhury family of Banisha have constructed the present structure which got completed in 1809. The Haldar family claims to be the original owners of the property on which the temple is built. This was disputed by the Chowdhury’s and in the 1960s a committee was formed with government and Haldar family representatives to take care of the Temple. The conducting of worships rests on the Haldar and heirs also known as Sebadas.
The temple is open from 5am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10.30 pm. There is no entry fee and tokens for specific rituals can be purchased there.