Monday, June 12, 2017

Spiritual Bengal

Visiting Ganagsagar was there in my mind for quite sometime, particularly after completing the four holy abodes of Badrinath, Puri, Raneshwaram and Dwarika.

Finally, Mid April, 2017, the plan got materialized.

Me along with parents took train to Kolkata.

There are three main stations in Kolkata, Howrah, Sealdeh and Kolkata.

Kolkata station is comparatively new as compared to other two stations. Howrah remains the most important one.

While Kolkata Station is closer to Airport, Howrah station can be said as in the center of Kolkata.

Our train reached a bit late as Sun was going to set. Here one can find many “Ambassador” Taxis. Though I had option of booking an Ola or Uber, I decided to take a prepaid Ambassador.

Please be sure to take taxi from a prepaid counter only. Otherwise if you are new to the places, chances of giving higher charges are high.

I had booked an accommodation at WB tourism tourist lodge at Salt Lake area. Though feedback at Travel Sites were not encouraging, I found the place to be quite decent.

From Kolkata to Sagar is about 140 KMs. But its not a straight road. One has to first reach Harwood Point (or just say Ganga Sagar). Here we have to cross the Muri Ganga river (One branch or distributary of Ganga) with a steamer to reach Sagar Island. Then again a Bus/Taxi to reach exact place of Ganga Sagar about 40 KMs away from here.

Sagar island is an island in the Ganges delta, lying in the Bay of Bengal about 100 km south of Kolkata. From this tip of island where we reach, there is another 40 KMs of travel to reach the other tip of island, where we take bath at the place Ganga is merging with sea.

I had plans to book a Taxi, but taxis go only the Harwood point, rest of the distance one has to manage themselves through Steamer and then again Bus/Taxi. Feeling a taxi only till Harwood point, a costly option, we decided to take a Bus.

Both Private and Govt buses can be taken at Esplanade (or Dharamtalla). Its better to take private buses as they will drop at close to Harwood Point. Govt buses will drop at “NayaRaasta” and we had to take a “Jugaadgaadi” to reach there.

Note that in Kolkata the Sun arises about 30 minutes earlier than that of Delhi. So people coming from central and western part of India to eastern India will realize that day comes early!

Buses going towards Namakhana will drop at NayaRaaata. Harwood Point is about 4 KM from here.

Caution, not many people know “Harwood’s Point” so better to ask for Ganga Sagar only.
The road from Kolkata to Harwood’s Point is good but single. So there is always a lot of traffic and this distance of about 100 KMs takes about 3 hours.

Day 1:
We took a Govt bus at 7 AM and got down at “NayaRaasta”. From there a “JugaadGaadi” took us to Jetty, a distance of about 4 KMs.

“JugaadGaadi” were made using old Jeep engines or water pumps. They make a lot of noise and poluution and there is no registration etc for them. There must be some mechanism to regulate.

It was about 1045 AM, as we took the steamer tickets. It was about to leave and we had to rush, but we could not make it and it left us waiting for another hour there.

I was wandering why no bridge has been proposed there. It would be very convenient if this is done. When we can have bridges in sea like in Rameshwaram and Mumbai, then why can’t here?

Though it was quite hot Summer sun, but the call breeze made things tolerable. There were a lot of seagull birds there hovering around the steamers. People throw some eatables to them. In my view this should be stopped. These birds are in their natural environment. By giving them some eatbles, not only we change their food pattern, but also makes them lazy and unfit for finding foods themselves.

Finally, our steamer arrived and as being at front of the queue, were able to get comfortable seats.

Steamer got overloaded to atleast double of the capacity. Same thing, I saw at Dwarika, while crossing the sea to BhetDwarika.

These people don’t have any care of people safety. Their aim is only the money making. People also are responsible as though seats were not there, they rush and somehow try to enter even by crossing and jumping over the safety railings!

There was no safety gear at all.

There were some people selling eatables for birds, and many ladies were rushing to buy these to earn some easily available “Punya”.

Unfortunately, this process has some drawbacks, one I already mentioned about the changing food habits of birds and also as more people started gathering on one side of boat, it results in tilting of boat towards that side. Verbal duals started among many people, still some “Punya searching” souls continued feeding birds.

It takes aboyt 40 minutes to cross the Muri Ganga to reach the SagarDweep, at the place called Kachuberia.

We took a rickshaw on the island to reach the bus stand.

There are many private taxis available but it will be cost efficient only if you have minimum 4-5 people. We decided to take a bus and in next one hour we were at GangaSagar.

Here again one Rickshaw took us to the beach, where people take bath and pay their reverence to Ganges.

So the summary to reach Gangasagar is:

  • Kolkata (Esplanade/Dharamtalla) – 100 KMs – Harwood Point (easily identified as GangaSagar)
  • Harwood Point – Steamer  (about 40 minutes)– Kachuberia (Sagar Island – Sagardweep)
  • Sagar Island Jetty – Bus/Taxi – 40 KMs – Ganga Sagar

Here river is nothing less than ocean. Infact it does not look like a river; it is like a vast ocean with waves. Many people were taking bath, to absolve themselves and to pay reverence to mother Ganges.

We also took bath. The water is as salty as of a typical ocean. Waters are quite shallow and so bathing and playing with waters is a pleasure.

After taking bath, we did small Pooja with help of a priest there. There was not much rush at this time of year.

14th January, the Makar Sankranthi day is biggest day here with millions coming to here take bath and pay to Lord Sun.

Then we visited Kapil Muni Temple, just infront of the beach.

It is a small temple, it is said that here earlier the ashram of Sage Kapil was there. As per the legend, King Sagar (ancestor of Lord Ram) had done a AshwamedhaYagna. Indra got jealous and stole the horse and tied near the ashram of sage Kapil.

The king sent his 60,000 sons to find it, and they found it next to Kapil Muni's ashram, where Indra had hidden it. Mistaking Kapil Muni for the thief, the sons accused Kapil Muni, who in his wrath at the false accusation burned them to ash. Later having compassion for the King Sagar's sons, Kapil Muni agreed that if river goddess Ganga would descend to Earth and purify their ashes, then they all will be liberated.

Through deep meditation, King Bhagiratha induced Shiva to get Ganga down from heaven and the 60,000 sons were freed (moksha) and ascended to Heaven. The date of the descent of Ganga was the date, as is at present the 14/15th Day of January of the Gregorian Calendar which coincides with that of Makar Sankranti.

After visiting Kapil Muni Temple, it was time to return back. We had to wait for sometime at bus stand as no bus was available.

It was almost 3:15 PM as we reached Kachuberia. Locals advised us to rush to the jetty as the last steamer was leaving at 330 PM for Harwood’s point. After that next steamer was available only at 6 PM.

We all rushed and somehow were able to get place for us in that “triple the capacity” steamer. The steamer waited till more and more people kept on overloading it.

On the way as another steamer passed us close by, the ripples generated were enough to send a chill of spine in all the passengers who overloaded it.

It was about 430 PM as we boarded the bus back to Kolkata at Harwood point.

We reached Esplanade at around 8 PM. It was quite rush there and taxi drivers were asking for huge money for our hotel, so needed to wait for some time and finally with help of an Uber, we reached our room.

Food was good at the WBTDC Lodge, badly tired, we took our dinner quickly and went to bed.

One thing to note here that there are no hotels at GangaSagar except a few “Dharamshala”. Bharat Sevashram Sangha has a few rooms available and their reference can be taken from Internet.

I feel it may not be required to stay there for night unless if someone wants to do so. Gangasagar can be visited comfortably from Kolkata as a day trip.

Day 2:
We wake up early though a bit leisurely pace we prepared ourselves for the day trip at Kolkata.

With a breakfast of “LuchiTorkari” (Poori with Potato veg), we started our Kolkata excursion.

This was my third trip to the “City of Joy”. Though last trip was about 17 years back. So it was almost like I was first time there.

Plan was to visit following places for today:

1.      Kalighat
2.      Birla Temple
3.      Victoria Memorial
4.      Dakshineshwar
5.      Belur Mutt

Though this list does not include many places, but it was enough for a day.
We discussed about possibility of hiring a taxi for the day, but then decided to go through local autos/taxis or with Ola/Uber place to place.

First place was Kalighat Shaktipeeth.

Kalighat is located on the old course of the Hooghly river. 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 Hooghly.

Kalighat is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell.

There was not much rush, but whatever little was there I tried to avoid by taking entry through “special darshan” route.

So here we were infront of the mother of universe. She is there with three huge eyes, long tongue and four hands.

Here there was some rush to take glimpse of the almighty mother, with her grace, we were able to have a good darshan and prayed for her blessings.

The spacious varandah of the main temple Facing the image is known as Jor Bangla. Many people were there doing some rituals.

There is a Krishna temple also inside the temple at the west side of the main temple.
There is a sacred tank situated in the south-east of the temple outside the boundary walls. It is called as  'Kaku-Kunda'. In 16th century the image of right toe of Sati was discovered from this tank. This tank is well known for its power to bestow the boon of a child. The water from this tank is regarded as sacred as that of the Ganges. 

Beware of Pandas here as well as on other temple except the exception of Dakshineshwar and Belur Mutt.

It is a very powerful place of worship, pulling all sincere seekers into deep meditation with blessings of divine mother.

Happy we came out of temple and clicked a few photographs with temple.

Next stop was Birla Temple.

Birla temple is not very far from here. We reached there in next 15-20 minutes with a taxi.
It is basically a Radha Krishna temple. It is open in the morning from 5.30 A.M. to 11 A.M. and in the evening from 4 .30 P.M. to 9 P.M.

Unfortunately, when we reached there it was closed. 

Architecture of temple is superb. It took 26 years to complete the temple from 1970-1996. On Wednesday, the 21st of February, 1996, the PranaPrathistha was done by Swami ChidanandajiMaharaj. Dr. Karan Singh inaugurated the temple.

The left side temple shikhar (dome) houses goddess Durga and the right side dome houses Shiva.

The temple also showcases pictorial depiction of scriptures of Bhagavad Gita in its stone engravings and some intricate Rajasthani temple architecture.

Unable to have darshan here, with some heavy mood, we took a taxi to visit the famous icon of Kolkata, theVictoria Memorial.

The Victoria Memorial is a huge marble building, built between 1906 and 1921. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and is now a museum under control of Ministry of Culture.

It is surrounded by huge lawns around it. There were many people visiting this place mostly to spend time in greenery which is abundant here. The main portion of building houses the museum.

There are two separate kinds of ticket. One for Museum and another for visiting gardens.
We took the museum ticket and approached the main building passing through the beautiful gardens.

In January 1901, after the death of Queen Victoria, George Curzon, Viceroy of India, suggested the creation of a memorial. He proposed the construction of a grand building with a museum and gardens.

Curzon said,
"Let us, therefore, have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history, and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past."

The Prince of Wales, King George V, laid the foundation stone on 4 January 1906, and it was formally opened to the public in 1921.

In 1912, before the construction of the Victoria Memorial was finished, King George V announced the transfer of the capital of India from Calcutta to New Delhi.
There are statutes of Curzon, Queen Victoria in the compound.

Lord Anshumaan was showering afternoon heat. The weather was quite hot and humid. Though the surrounding gardens provided some relief. Slowly we walked through and entered this massive colonial mansion.

The large dome and all the structure around it is now a museum and has very rich collection.

It is interesting to know that the Victoria Memorial was funded by Indian states, perhaps due to threat from British Raj.

The Victoria Memorial's architect was William Emerson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The design is a mixture of British and Mughal.

It is constructed of white Makrana marble.

Atop the central dome of the Victoria Memorial is the figure of the Angel of Victory. Surrounding the dome are sculptures including Art, Architecture, Justice, and Charity and above the North Porch are Motherhood, Prudence and Learning.

The Victoria Memorial has many galleries and so it gives a pleasant feeling to all history and culture enthusiasts. It also has a collection of rare and antiquarian books such as the illustrated works of William Shakespeare, the Arabian Nights and the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam as well as books about kathak dance and thumri music by Wazid Ali Shah.

There are many portraits of British monarchs and officers including Victoria and Prince Albert. 

In 1992, the Calcutta gallery inaugurated. It houses a visual display of the history and development of Calcutta from Job Charnock (1630–1692) of the English East India Company to 1911, when the capital of India was transferred to New Delhi. 

To me the most interesting parts were the relics of Tantya Tope, the guns used in the war of Plassy and the sword of Mir Jafar.

Photography is not allowed inside.

It’s nice and must visit place in Kolkata and takes one to the bygone era of Raj!

Outside the building is statue of Victoria seated on her throne, wearing the robes of the Star of India. There are many statues around the building likethat of Hastings, Charles Cornwallis, Robert Clive, Arthur Wellesley and Dalhousie.

As we entered the Victoria Memorial building from the south, we pass through the Edward VII memorial arch. Upon the arch is a bronze equestrian statue of Edward VII and a marble statue of Curzon. The garden contains statues of dignitaries such as Lord William Bentinck and George Robinson, governor-generals of India and Rajendra Nath Mookerjee, a pioneer industrialist of Bengal.

After visiting the museum, we took some rest in the lawn under the soothing shades. It was a good feeling to be there.

Many people visit there just to enjoy the beautiful gardens.

Now was time for Dakshineshwar.

Dakshineswar Kali Temple is located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, 'She who liberates Her devotees from the ocean of existence i.e. Sasāra'. The temple was built in 1855 by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali. The temple is famous for its association with Ramakrishna.

Again we took a taxi. It was some distance away and as far as I remember it took more than an hour to reach.

The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, contains a large courtyard. There are twelve shrines (Jyotirlinga) dedicated to Shivaalong the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni.
The temple was closed when we reached there. It was scheduled to open at 330 PM. We waited outside. There is a small market in the compound selling offerings and some eatables. It is adjacent to the river front.

It is said that in 1847 AD, Rani Rashmoni, prepared to go upon a long pilgrimage to the sacred city of Kashi. The night before the pilgrimage began, Rani Rashmoni had a vision of the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali in a dream and said,

“There is no need to go to Banaras. Install my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the Ganges river and arrange for my worship there. Then I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship at that place.”

Profoundly affected by the dream, Rani immediately built the temple complex in between 1847 and 1855. The idol of Goddess Kali was installed on the SnanaYatra day on 31 May 1855, amid festivities at the temple formally known as Sri SriJagadishwariMahakali, with RamkumarChhattopadhyay as the head priest; soon his younger brother Gadai or Gadadhar (later known as Ramakrishna) moved in and so did nephew Hriday to assist him.
More than 1 lakh Brahmins were invited from different parts of the country to grace the auspicious occasion. 

The next year, when chief priest, Ramkumar Chhattopadhyay passed away, the position was given to Ramakrishna.

Built in the traditional 'Nava-ratna' or nine spires style of Bengal architecture, the three-storeyed south-facing temple has nine spires distributed in upper two storeys, and stands on a high platform with a flight of stairs.

As the queue began, slowly we went into the temple.

After sometime we reached in the sanctum. The benevolent mother, Bhavataraini, standing on the chest of Shiva, and placed on a thousand-petaledsilver lotus, who gave “PratyakshaDarshan” to Shri Rama Krishna was there, blessing and assuring all who reaches out to her.

Getting blessed, we visited all the 12 Shiva shrines.

There is a small room called 'Nahavat-Khana', in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples. Here Shri Ramakrishna spent a considerable part of his life as priest ff this temple.

Dakshineshwar is a wonderful place to be.

Evening was approaching and it was time to take taxi to Belur Mutt.

It is on the other side of Ganga. The approach road from Main road to Dakshineshwar temple is not good and very crowded. Administration needs to work on this.
Belur Mutt is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda founded two monasteries, one at Belur, which became the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission and the other at Mayavati in Champawat Dist. Uttrakhand called the Advaita Ashram.

As soon as we entered the Belur Mutt complex, the first attraction is on the left side and is testimony of the days and times of Shri RamKrishna as well as about the days of beginning of Shri RamKrishna Mutt.

This two-storiedbuilding is very well maintained and organized. It hosts artifacts used by Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi, Swami Vivekananda and some of his disciples. The museum chronicles the growth of the movement and the India/Bengal of that times.

It has the long coat worn by Vivekananda in the West and Sister Nivedita's table. The museum has a recreation of the Panchavati—the clutch of five sacred trees of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple where Ramakrishna practicedsadhana. The black stone bowl from which Ramakrishna took payasam (Kheer) and the pillow he had used are on display.
Ramakrishna's room in the house where he distributed ochre clothes to 12 disciples anointing Vivekananda (then Narendranath) as their leader has also been shown with a model of Ramakrishna bestowing grace on his disciples and the footwear used by Ramakrishna has been put on the model. The room at Dakshineswar where Ramakrishna lived has been recreated with display of clothes and other objects used by him, the tanpura used by Vivekananda to sing to his master, and the copies of two charcoal drawings sketched by Ramakrishna are also there.

Sarada Devi's pilgrimage to Chennai, Madurai and Bangalore has also been exhibited along with the items used by her in 1911.

This museum is excellent and one must visit it. Its simply superb.

Little further up is the RamKrishnaTemple.

Swami Vijnanananda, a brother-monk of Swami Vivekananda and one of the monastic disciples of Ramakrishna, who was, in his pre-monastic life, a civil engineer, designed the temple according to the ideas of Vivekananda and Swami Shivananda. The then President of Belur Mutt laid the foundation stone on 16 May 1935 and it was consecrated on 14 January, in 1938.

A full size statue of Sri Ramakrishna is seated on lotus over a marble pedestal wherein the Sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna are preserved.

We all prayed to the master, the Paramhamsa, the enlightened being.

Little further is a double storey building. One mango tree there is the testimony of the times of Vivekananda. He used to sit below it. First floor was his room, where he breathed his last in 1902 at the age of 39. SwamyVivekananda had fulfilled his own prophecy of not living to be forty-years old.

Following the Hooghly river slowly, we reached the another temple of Swami Brahmananda. He was a direct disciple of Ramakrishna and the first head of Shri RamKrishna Mission. His mortal remains were cremated here.

Further up is the temple of holy Maa Sarada.  It is right at the ghat. The temple is over the area where her mortal remains were consigned to flames. The temple of the Holy Mother was consecrated on 21 December 1921.

WE went down to the ghat and spread holy waters of Ganga on us. I also filled a small bottle. It was evening time and atmosphere was very serene and blissful.

Even with so much of crowd, there was a peace, very pleasant. The presence of divine is there.

Next is the temple dedicated to Swamy Vivekananda.

The Swami Vivekananda Temple stands on the spot where Swami Vivekananda’s mortal remains were cremated in 1902. It was consecrated on 28 January 1924. Beside the temple stands a bel (bilva) tree in the place of the original bel tree under which Swami Vivekananda used to sit and near which, according to his wish, his body was cremated.
Next is the memorial to other heads of RamKrishna order. From here one can see the Samadhi of Shri RamKrishna on the other side of the Ganga. It is easily distinguishable in the late evening as it glows with lights.

I was in conversation with one monk there and then the guards started calling to evacuate. It was time for mutt to be closed for outsiders.

RamKrishna Mutt has done a great service to Hindu religion, by bringing out the hidden gems of their spiritual texts and also making them proud of their heritage and culture.
We quickly visited the book shop right in front of Shri RamKrishna temple and then with some books, took taxi back to our lodge.

It was a tiring day today, but we covered the gem of Kolkata. Many things are still there to be explored, but parents were satisfied as they were able to make the most important things they wanted to visit.

Next day the plan was to visit Tarkeshwar Shiva temple and then proceed to Mayapur.
I had booked a taxi for same as otherwise it was difficult to cover these places in short time that I had. The plan was to visit TarkeshwarMahadev, Mayapur and then next day to Tarapith and catch the train from Asansol railway station.

Day 3:
Early morning at round 7 AM, we were all ready.

In next about two hours, we were at Tarkeswar, which is about 70 KMs from Kolkata.
The Taraknath temple, dedicated to Shiva worshiped as Taraknath, is a major pilgrimage. There was huge rush. With the help of a panda, we approached the temple through narrow lanes. First we went to the pond adjacent to the temple. It is known as Dudhpukur. All the milk and holy water offered to Shiva, comes here. This pond is assumed to be very auspicious. Many people were taking bath there.

The Panda helped us to get into the queue quickly. Entire area was wet with water. People were trying to ride on each other in hurry to go inside.

There is only one gate and so it was managed by one security officer. He halts the people from one direction to clear for people to other direction and vice versa.
Finally braving the crowd, we were inside the sanctum. It was pitch dark inside and nothing was visible initially. Later s eyes got adjusted to it, I was able to get the glimpse of Shiva Linga, covered with a cloth. People were offering milk and Gangajal. We prayed to the almighty and offered our reverence.

There is no window and any light source inside. Temple administration should look into this as it’s a bit suffocating there.

As per local legends, the temple was built after a dream which led the mendicant brother of Raja Vishnu Das to discover a Linga in the jungles near Tarakeswar. The temple was later built around the swayambhulinga (self-manifested) referred as Baba Taraknath in 1729 AD.
Pilgrims visit the temple throughout the year, especially on Mondays. But thousands of pilgrims visit Tarakeswar on the occasions of 'Shivaratri'. The month of Sravana (mid-July to mid-August) is auspicious for Shiva worship.

It was time to take road to Mayapur.

Mayapur is located on the banks of the Ganges, at the point of its confluence with the Jalangi, near Nabadwip about 130 km north of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Nabadwip is famous as associated with many Vaishnava acharyas and mystics. Because of paucity of time, we could not go there and proceeded directly to Mayapur.

The headquarters of ISKCON are atMayapur and it is considered to be of special significance to followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as the birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

The temple at CaitanyaMahaprabhu's birthplace in Mayapur established by Bhaktivinoda Thakur in 1880s.

It was about 3 PM as we reached Mayapur. I tried getting a room at ISKCON guest houses but failed to do so. Finally took a room in a small hotel Plaza a couple of KMs away from ISKCON.

It is better to book accommodation in advance through Internet, but I did a mistake here and thought that not much rush will be there.

There are many temples and Mutts in Mayapur, mostly of different Gaudiya lineage.
After taking some rest, we went to the ISKCON temple and complex.

ISKCON temple here is not as big, as I have seen in Bengaluru, though as blissful. One huge temple complex MayapurChandrodayaMandir construction is in progress and may take a couple of more years perhaps.

There were many foreigners indulged in Krishna Bhakti. Singing bhajans and dancing, seems entire place was Krishna Conscious.

From Temple, we walked towards the Samadhi Mandir of SrilaPrabhupada
It is a memorial to ISKCON's founder. It is very beautiful and environment was very soothing. Many people were dancing and singing bhajans.

We had not taken any lunch so just outside the temple gate, we took our early dinner.
It was my long wish to be at Mayapur. With grace of Krishna, it got fulfilled.

Day 4:
Along with Kalighat, Tarkeswar andNabadwip, Tarapith are the three most revered shrines in Bengal. Tarapith is a small town near Rampurhat in Birbhum district, known for its Tantric temple and its adjoining cremation grounds where sadhana (tantric rituals) are performed. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Tara.

It is a shaktipeetha.

It was a long drive of about 170 KMs from Mayapur. We started early in morning at around 5 AM. By around 10, we were there.

Road was ok, but not that great. Google map helped us a lot.

The town of Tarapith was buzzing with pilgrims. It was bigger town than my expectations and also crowd was more. After getting taxi parked at a suitable place, we walked slowly towards the powerful abode of Holy Mother.

With help of a panda, we got early darshan queue and soon we were infront of the divine mother.

We all prayed to her and offered our reverence. Thanks to almighty mother for giving us opportunity to visit to her blissful abode.

There are two Tara images in the sanctum. The stone image of Tara depicted as a mother suckling Shiva, to relieve Shiva from pain of drinking the poison emerged during “SamudraManthan”. It is the motherly aspect of divine mother. She is mother of the universe, everything originates and ends in her. This primordial image is camouflaged by a three feet metal image, that the devotee normally see. It represents Tara in her fiery form with four arms, wearing a garland of skulls and a protruding tongue. Crowned with a silver crown and with flowing hair, the outer image wrapped in a sari and decked in marigold garlands with a silver umbrella over its head. The forehead of the metal image is adorned with red kumkum (vermilion). Priests take a speck of this kumkum and apply it on the foreheads of the devotees as a mark of Tara's blessings.

Blood sacrifice of goats is the daily norm in the temple. 

The cremation ground, amidst dark forest surroundings, is located on the river side at the end of town limits, away from the village life. It is believed that goddess Tara can be seen in shadows drinking blood of goats which are sacrificed every day at her altar, to satiate her anger against the demons.

There is a pond infront and we all took some water to purify ourselves. This holy water is said to relieve diseases and gives long blissful life. A few small shrines are also in the complex, which includes that of Shiva and an “Avadhoot” Vaman, who is more famously known as Bamakhepa.

Bamakhepaworshipped in the temple and resided in the cremation grounds as a mendicant and practiced and perfected yoga and the tantric arts under the tutelage of another famous saint, the Kailashpathi Baba. Bamakhepa dedicated his entire life to the worship of Tara Maa. He did not follow the set rules of the temple and as result was even once roughed up by the temple priests for taking food meant as offering for the deity by Maharani of Natore. It is said that mother Tara appeared in the dream of Maharani and told her to feed the saint first as he was her son. After this incident, Bamakhepa was fed first in the temple before the deity. 

Among piths, Tarapith is a siddha pith, which grants enlightenment, wisdom, happiness and siddhis.

It was great feeling and sense of fulfillment to be here in the holy feet of mother. Bowing to her, we took the road to Asansol.

Train was late by about 3 hours and so much late we reached at home, sweet home!   


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