One of my personal favourite places in Kolkata is the Siddeshwari Kalibari. It is easiest accessible from Shyambazar metro, a walking distance after you get down at Rajballav para which is a 5-minute bus ride from the metro station.
It is a part of the seven famous kaalibaris of Kolkata, the other 6 of which are – Dakshineshwar, Kalighat, Lake kaalibari, Thantania kaalibari, Shyambazar kaalibari and Firingee kaalibari.
Quoting from https://debolinabhattacharya.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/kolkatas-ginni-siddheshwari-kali/ about the origin of this temple:
“A Kali worshipper, living in the Himalayas, had a dream in which the goddess instructed him to find a Shakti Peeth south of where he lived. He, thus, came looking for the Peeth in Bengal. Originally, the river Adiganga (the old course of Ganges) flowed through the (now) Kumartoli area. Dense jungles greeted the river on its banks. These areas were filled with dacoits. While travelling through this area, the devotee came across a place where there were many bones. Upon closer inspection, he found that it was a place where ‘bali’ (sacrifice) was done by the dacoits of the area who worshipped their deity, goddess Kali. Thinking this to be the Shakti Peeth that he had been told of, he worshipped there day and night.
After many nights of worship, goddess Kali appeared in front of him and told him that this was not the Shakti Peeth and it was to be found further south. But since he had found the goddess there, he was instructed to build her statue there itself. This he did- with twigs, branches and the soil obtained from the banks of the river- creating a replica of the goddess as seen by him. The statue still stands in this temple; so does the place where ‘bali’ was offered by the dacoits. This is the Siddheshwari Kalibari.”
A quiet and serene place, it is a place where you are allowed to spend as much as time you want by sitting in front of the beautiful idol of the goddess. The idol itself will mesmerize you. It is overwhelming to sit in front of such a huge statue with bold eyes which look like they drip with emotion. A mighty sight herself, always clad in jewellery and gorgeous sarees the goddess is.
Situated in the locality of Kumortuli, the place where the gods are made by the artisans or kumors, the place has a rich ethnic essence itself. You can walk around and experience the sight first hand. The skills which the artisans show when they carve the idols from nothing to something to marvel at is a popular spot for those keen at clicking aesthetic pictures with their cameras. The place is filled with these photographers before Durga Puja, a major festival in West Bengal.
The old buildings of north Kolkata itself have a sense of nostalgia and richness associated with their heritage. One who feels this nostalgia would gladly agree to walk miles along these buildings of red-bricked walls, instead of skyscrapers and noisy streets.
The ghats of Ahiritola, on the banks of river Ganga, complete the trip with the cool breeze blowing on your face as you sit there with a cup of tea in your hand.
Also situated there is a sweet shop called Nabin Chandra and Sons. It is supposed to be the inventor of rosogullas. If you are to go to the temple for a morning anjali, this would be the place to have your breakfast from. Their peas kachoris dripping with ghee and melting in the mouth are of high demand, their stock finishes really quick for these delicacies. Their sweets too are one of the best from the land that is synonymous in fame for its sweets.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you are an atheist or a staunch believer, the serenity will itself calm you so much that you’ll want to keep going back.