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West Bengal : Kalna
Kalna, a small town, about 81 km from Kolkata, situated on the western bank of the river Ganges, is the birth place of the poet Kamalkanta. Santipur, another small town of west Bengal is located at the other side of Kalna on the banks of the Ganges. Kalna, the Vaishnab and Sakta pilgrimage town is more popularly known to the people of West Bengal as Ambika Kalna, named after the renowned deity of the Jain Goddess Siddheshwari Kali but Siddheshwari Kali is now known as the Hindu Goddess. It is believed that according to the wish of the Goddess Kali, the Darjeeling Mountain worshipped the Goddess and got her blessings. The name Siddhidatri (someone who blesses) or Siddheshwari Kali has come from the story of the Darjeeling Mountain. Apart from Kali temple, the Srimandir where Sri Sri shyamasundar, Nitai, Gour, Basudha, Surya Das Pandit, Balai are worshipped and 5 Shiva temples in the premises of Kali temple are the integral part of Kalna.
A prime and most important attraction of Kalna is the historical monument, Nava Kailash or 108 Shiva temples, surrounded by a wall, built by the king of Burdwan in 1809. The temples are constructed in two circles. The first circle consists of 74 temples while the other one has 34. The temples of the former circle have both the white and black stone Shivalingas, while the other circle has only white marble ones. Because of the appropriate planning and creativity of the artists, all the 108 Shivalingas are clearly visible from the centre of the temple compound.
The Krishna Chandra temple, with its 25 steeples, is another sight which is admirable for its aesthetics. Different scenes and stories from the epics are depicted on its terracotta walls. Architectures of Lalji temple with 25 steeples (1739) and Pratapeshwara temple (1849) are amazing. The Rajbati (Palace of the king) and the Pratapeshwara temple inside the premises of the Rajbati, look incredible for their artistic vista. The town also houses a lot of ancient temples, among them Shiva temple situated at Jagannath ghat, Buddha temple in Kalinagar, Guptipara Math which is a collection of temples depicting terra cotta architectures, Chaitanya temple, Ramchandra temple and Krishnachandra temples are some noted ones. If you can save some of your energy and time after watching all of the mentioned striking places of Kalna, you can see Ashrama Brahmabari of the poet Bhagaban Das, Gopalbari near to the Sidheshwari junction and Rashmancha as well.
Durga Puja, the festival of Kalna is worthy of mention. It’s not only popular to the people of Kalna but also to the others living outside.
If you want to buy something from Kalna, you can visit to Tantipara for buying sarees. You can also savor the taste of nora and pantua, the famous sweets of Kalna.
How to reach: Kalna can be accessed both by railways and by road transport. If you prefer railways, it is connected by the loop line route from Howrah to Kalna. Ambika Kalna is the main railway station here. There are several local trains as well as express trains available from Howrah railway station to Ambika Kalna. By road, the town can be accessed primarily from 4 places, Bandel, Pandua, Bainchi, Burdwan and all of the four places are well connected by the Buses which start from Esplanade bus terminus mainly.
Where to stay: Besides, many privately owned hotels and some Guesthouses, Panthonir is one of the reputed guest houses for boarding and lodging in Kalna. Panthonir also provides dormitory in a very reasonable rates of 30 rupees per head.