Set Current Location
Mahanirvan Math located at Rash Behari Avenue was established by the great and famous spiritual guru Sri Sri Nityagopal. It was shifted from its original location in Manoharpukur to it's current location in Kalighat. The pioneer of the Ramkrishna Mission, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, appreciated his thoughts, his principles and his devotion to God. His followers also believe that Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Sri Sri Nityagopal are re-incarnations of Balram and Krishna respectively, such was the bond of these divine souls. The important ideology followed and imbibed by him, were equality and adapting humanity towards one and all. At the Mahanirvan Math, one can almost feel at peace with oneself and the best time to visit this math is early morning, when bhakts gather here for morning prayers and chants. It also has small office-cum-bookshop, that distributes free pamphlets and books at nominal prices on the teachings of Sri Sri Nityagopal.
The Sree Guruvayurappan Temple is a unique landmark in Kolkata's Kalighat neighborhood. Constructed in black stones brought all the way from the river banks of Kerala, the temple is the seat of five Hindu idols - Sree Guruvayurappan , Lord Ganesh , Lord Ayyappa , Goddess Bhagawathi and Lord Hanuman. The temple conducts daily pujas & rituals as per the guidance of the Tantris and the drummers specially appointed from Kerala, and sees a large number of devotees join in.
With the statue of Swami Vivekananda right at its center and the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in the background, Golpark is a name that helps determine your location in the city. Situated in the Lake Gardens area, this is a big green patch that marks the intersection of the Gariahat Road, Dr. Meghnad Saha Road and Nani Mukherjee Road. Golpark is named so because of its round shape; gol in Hindi means circular. Although it can't exactly be classified as a park in the traditional sense of the word, it does serve as an important landmark of the city. Considering you're traveling from the center of the city, you can use this as a marker to go to Rabindra Sarovar and Nazrul Mancha on your right, 6 Ballygunge Place and other Ballygunge eateries on your left and straight down on Gariahat Road to reach southern neighborhoods like Dhakuria, Jodhpur Park and Jadavpur.
Kalighat Kali Temple's legend is rooted in Indian mythology; it is said to be the site where Sati or Shakti's toes fell during Shiva's Rudra Tandava (an allegorical depiction of violent nature). The temple you see standing today at the end of Kalighat is about 200 years old, built with the help of the Sabarna Roy Chowdhary family. The historical temple stays crowded throughout the week, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays; a tour of this temple is always hectic, but Wednesdays and Thursdays are probably the best days to visit if you want a somewhat peaceful experience. There is a large corridor filled with Puja shops outside the temple. Around the temple are also other spots like Sosthi Tala, Harkath Tala (a site used for holy animal sacrifice), Radha-Krishna Temple and Kundurpukur (a large sacred tank situated behind the main Kali Temple). Photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple. Touts standing outside may not be affiliated with the temple, but manage to ensure a quick darshan (viewing) of Goddess Kali and the other sites around it.
Situated in the neighborhood that goes by the same name, Alipore Jail is one of the most historically important landmarks in the city. During the British rule it was the site where many Indian political leaders and reformists were held captive by the East India Company. Reformists from the Indian Independence Movement like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose and Sri Aurobindo were the most notable inmates of the prison. Sri Aurobindo who was also a noted philosopher, poet and yogi spent a year in the prison when he penned a few poems and later, wrote articles detailing his experience as a prisoner in Alipore Jail. Started in 1910, this brick red facade has been witness to India's freedom struggle and remains operational as a corrective facility today. Needless to say, the area around this prison is heavily guarded and photography is strictly prohibited. Located close by are the Agri-Horticultural Gardens, National Library and the Kolkata Zoo.
As you enter the southern neighborhood of Ballygunge, the Birla Mandir is bound to catch your attention. Designed to emulate the Lingaraj Temple in Orissa, this white marble structure houses idols of many Hindu deities: statues of Krishna and Radha, Durga, Shiva, Ganesha and a few others can be found at different parts of the temple. Just like the Birla Mandir in Jaipur and Hyderabad, the interiors are a pristine white and the sense of space is a relaxing contrast to the claustrophobic atmosphere that is common to most Indian temples. By night, the entire mandir is illuminated which enhances its beauty considerably. In close vicinity are the Birla Museum of Science and Technology, Calcutta Ice Skating Rink and CCFC.
ISKCON stands for 'International Society for Krishna Consciousness', which is widely known as 'Hare Krishna Hare Rama' movement. Founded by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the religious organization follows the preachings of Lord Krishna, based on 'Bhagwad Gita' and 'Srimad Bhagvatam', the holy scriptures of Hindu religion. For this group, self control is a part of life and the only truth is Bhagwan Krishna. The principles of ISKCON are no non-vegetarian food, no lust, refraining from activities like gambling and alcoholic drinks and drugs. This center in Kolkata has a Krishna mandir, where bhakts or devotees sing the praises of Lord and achieve inner peace. At the in-house restaurant, Govinda's, you can enjoy organic food sans any abhorred items like onions and garlic. ISKCON also hosts sessions, lectures and orientation series, for the commoners to gain an in-depth knowledge of the movement. Apart from the religious aspect, it has also forayed into community development, under which it organizes 'free food' and other such programs for the poor and needy section of people. For further details on the organization, check the website.
St.Paul's Cathedral is one of the 'first Episcopal Church of the Orient' in Kolkata. Bishop Daniel Wilson initiated the construction of the cathedral in 1839 and it was completed in 1847. Designed by Major William Nairn Forbes, it is similar to the Bell Harry Tower in Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. The pristine white walls, the stained glass windows, carved wooden pieces and frescoes remind you of the Renaissance period. Though the church was completely destroyed twice, was eventually restored and regained it's original grandeur. While you are visiting St.Paul's Cathedral, you can also check-out the nearby attractions like Victoria Memorial, Nandan, Mahanagar Peace Park and the Birla Planetarium.