The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dakshineswar temple restoration finalised

The CMDA has finalised facelift plans for the 147-year-old Dakshineswar Kali temple, one of the major heritage spots of the country. The plan includes construction of a multi-complex plaza and eateries for tourists, wider roads, relocation of kiosks along the roads, and restoration of Kuthibari, where Sri Ramakrishna dwelt from 1855 to 1871. There are also plans to restore the two waterbodies, Dudhpukur and Hanspukur.

“The Dakshineswar Kalimandir and Debottar Estate requested us to draw up a plan for restoration of the temple complex and we did so,” Asok Bhattacharya, state urban development minister, told Metro.

“We have already sent the proposal to the Centre and a meeting will be held with Union tourism minister Jagmohan on April 10,” said Kushal Chowdhury, chairman of the estate. Sudhangshu Sil, CMDA board member, said the agency would provide all technical support to the estate in the restoration. “We have always cooperated with them and will continue to do so,” he said.

The plan, drawn up by Nikhilesh Mukherjee, former chief engineer of the CMDA and now adviser to the Centre for Implementation of Integrated Technology, proposes construction of three new buildings in the temple complex. On entering the complex, one building on the right will house transit devotees. “There will be accommodation for all classes of people at nominal rates. The accommodation will range from dormitories to luxury suites for international tourists,” a CMDA official said. Another building will come up on the banks of Dudhpukur.

“The area around Dudhpukur, all of 1.5 acres, will be renovated, along with the pond, which is now dirty, causing environmental pollution,” the CMDA official said. There are plans to set up kiosks and seating arrangements for devotees.

Every day, around 40,000 people visit the main temple and the figure touches lakhs during festivals, estate officials said. “We plan to utilise the area around Dudhpukur to accommodate the devotees. They can sit there and wait in comfort,” the CMDA official said, adding that a new entrance to the main complex from the Dudhpukur zone is being planned. Most of the kiosks will be those rehabilitated from the Panchavati area.

Kuthibari will be repaired, too. “We plan to convert it into a museum. The old throne, replaced recently, along with other historical items, will be preserved there,” sources said.

Officials said widening of roads and clearing them of the numerous stalls are also important aspects of the masterplan. The road approaching the temple from the railway station has several shops on either side. Within the complex through the Singha Duar (Vivekananda Toron), the shops mar the beauty of the temple. Dala shops on the banks of the Ganges, too, block the view of the temple. The plan proposes to shift these shops to the ground and first floors of the new buildings. A floor of one of the buildings will be used for cooking food for the kiosks. “This will help us to keep the complex clean,” an estate official said.

Once Calcutta Port Trust’s embankment project is completed, the dala arcades can be relocated on the river banks, the plan suggests. “We want to give the arcades the shape of the 12 temples of Lord Shiva and this will provide an excellent view from the train,” an official said.

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