Chandannagar, a former French colony, is just 35 kilometres from Kolkata can be reached by both rail and road. Chandannagar is now a subdivision of Hooghly district of West Bengal. When we speak of Chandannagar, the first thing that comes to our mind is Jagadhatri Puja which is celebrated here for five days with great pomp and granduer just like Durga Puja. A number of temples are there in Chandannagar of which Nilkantheshwari Temple of Gondalpara deserves mention.
A beautiful pancha ratna (five pinnacled) temple at Rabindra Nath Road, Chandannagar built by Late Sibnath Mukhopadhyay and her wife Saratkumari Debi on 10th July, 1913 (26 Ashar, 1320 Bangabda, Sukla Saptami tithi) belong to Debi Nilkantheshwari.
The lower part of the temple has got a fresh coat of yellow colour while the ratnas at the top of the temple still bears the original colour. The temple stands on a raised platform and a flight of stairs will lead you to the temple. The stairs also got a fresh coat of paint. Located close to the Ganges, this temple is south facing. The temple is situated within an enclosed courtyard and there are number of rooms on two sides. The temple can be spotted from outside by seeing the ratnas or pinnacles. The temple also houses a Shivalinga named Baneswar. Inside the temple sanctum there is a throne in which Debi Nilkantheshwari is standing. Nilkantheshwari is Goddess Kali made from kasthi pathar (touch stone). When I enter inside a temple at around two in the afternoon, I found the temple open and I got an unique chance to look at the temple and the goddess. Normally the temple does not remain open during the afternoon.
Sibnath Mukhopadhyay and her wife Saratkumari Debi had no issues and they pray to the goddess so that they had a child. It was said that on one late night the goddess came in a dream and instructed them to built an idol from a stone lying under swetchampak tree on the western corner of the garden. Accordingly the idol was carved out of that touchstone by a sculptor. Some say that it was made by an Italian sculptor; while others are of the opinion that it was made by a scultpor from Jaipur.
The temple took nearly three to four years to complete and an amount of ninety thousand rupees was spent for that. The remaining part of the temple was built by Prakash Chandra Bandopadhyay who is the eldest son of Anadi Nath Bandopadhyay. Prakash Chandra was termed as the temple’s nabarupakar. Anadi Nath Bandopadhyay is the nephew of Sibnath Mukhopadyay.
Daily worship is performed here and apart from Kali puja the main festival takes place every year on the foundation day of the temple which is on July.
I am grateful to Smt. Shampa Banerjee who helped me in providing information about the temple.
Date of posting: 21st November, 2018.