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Kali temple rewind to glory

In one of the largest architectural heritage restoration programmes undertaken in this part of the country, the 147-year-old Kali temple at Dakshineswar is all set for a major makeover.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) has submitted the Rs 11-crore plan to Union tourism minister Jagmohan. State tourism department officials said the Central ministry was in the process of studying and approving the plan, finalised on the basis of a detailed feedback from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Debottar Estate.

A little less than a crore has already been spent by the Estate on the first phase of the beautification and modernisation. “The rest of the work now depends on when the approval comes through from the Centre ,” state tourism director and tourism department joint secretary Barin Basu told Metro on Friday.

Officials said the project for the upgradation of a place of pilgrimage, that saw the transformation of Gadadhar Chattopadhyay into Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Narendranath Dutta into Swami Vivekananda, would transform Dakshineswar “from a local tourist draw to an international destination”.

The Dakshineswar project, with Governor Viren J. Shah and Jagmohan as the prime movers, will be based largely on the Kathamrita and other texts used to depict the life and times of Ramakrishna, and involves beautification of the gardens around the zone that gets its name from the cluster of trees called Panchabati. “We plan to take the locale around Panchabati as close as possible to the way it existed in the 19th Century,” said estate secretary Kushal Chowdhury. “The plans will revolve strictly around the evidence available from the Kathamrita and other contemporary texts, so that the place can regain its glory.”

Tradition, however, is not being passed over. The room where Ramakrishna stayed during the 1855-1871 period will be renovated and thrown open to the public. There are plans to set up of a Swami Vivekananda Yoga Centre as well.

Security at the temple, that draws around 50,000 visitors every day, is another vital aspect, with committee members having already met state home secretary Amit Kiran Deb, pleading for metal detectors and a police outpost. Also on the agenda is the repair of the one-kilometre embankment between the temple complex and the Hooghly.

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