Kalighat Kali Temple
The Kalighat temple was built in 1809 on the site of an ancient temple. It is on the name of this temple that English gave the place name Calcutta which is anglicized form of Kalikata. The legend says that a finger of the Sati, wife of Lord Shiva, fell here.
Since then it has been an important pilgrimage site. But the temple is dedicated to the destructive side of Shiva which takes the form of Kali. She requires sacrifice daily to satisfy her blood lust so every morning goats are sacrificed on the alter of the temple.
The temple is busy through out the year and is surrounded by poor who come to have free meal. The Hospital for Dying Destitute by Mother Teresa is near the temple and every one is a welcome visitor here.
The Kalighat temple in its present form iis only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
Legend has it that a devotee discovered a luminant ray of light coming from the Bhagirathi river bed, and upon investigating its source came upon a piece of stone carved in the form of a human toe. He also found a Syayambhu Lingam of Nakuleshwar Bhairav nearby, and started worshipping Kaali in the midst of a thick jungle. This shrine grew to its present form over a period of time, thanks in particular to the Sabarna Roy Chowdhury family of Bengal.
This family is also said to have built the Chitreswari Kaali temple at Chitpur. It is believed that there was a pathway through the jungle between Chitpur and Kalighat, and this pathway is said to have become the Chitpur road of Calcutta.
Kalighat is also associated with the worship offered to Kaali by a Dasanami Monk by name Chowranga Giri, and the Chowringee area of Calcutta is said to have been named after him.
The Dakshineswar Kaali temple across from the river, near Belur Math, bears an image of Kaali worshipped by the spiritual leader Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, guru of Swami Vivekananda.