Dedicated to Lord Krishna, Birla Temple holds both architectural and religious importance to the people of Kolkata. Architectural because of its fine construction and religious because it is a Hindu temple dedicated to one of the supreme most deities of Indian mythology – Lord Krishna. Birla Temple is one of the most visited tourist spots of Kolkata.
The intriguing and fine carvings in and around the temple depict the genius craftsmanship which was put behind creating this remarkable edifice. It signifies a unique amalgamation of conventional and contemporary art form. During the festive months (mostly October and November), when the temple and its surroundings are decorated with thousands of bright and colorful lights and oil lamps, it becomes a breathtaking view.
The most suitable time to visit this enigmatic architecture is during the evening aarti (evening prayer ceremony) when the entire temple is lit, fragrances of flowers and incense sticks adorn the temples interiors, and hundreds of worshippers gathered there chanting or praying.
Construction of the temple began in 1970 and after 26 years of extensive planning and intensive labor, the temple was completed and opened to public in 1996. The temple has been constructed by the ‘Birla family’, one of the most prominent and affluent industrialists of the country. It was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh on 21st February, 1996. Dr. Singh, son of Maharaja Hari Singh, is a member of Indian Parliament’s Rajya Sabha (the Upper House), and a senior member of the Indian National Congress. At age of 83 years, he is believed to be the last remaining heir to the princely state of Jammu And Kashmir.
The main temple (middle section as seen on the photo) houses the idols of deities Krishna and Radha, whereas the left temple houses Goddess Durga and the right temple houses Lord Shiva in meditation mode. The interiors of the temples highlight slokas and pictorial illustrations from Bhagavad Gita – the Holy book of Hindus. The ceilings are illuminated with larger-than-life chandeliers and artificial diyas (oil-lamps). The entire building is almost 160 feet above ground and expands over 44 kathas of land. Mostly carved out of white marble, Birla Temple has its resemblance to Bhubaneswar’s renowned Lingaraj Temple.
Being one of the top 10 must-visit location in Kolkata – the City of Joy as it is commonly called, Birla Temples offers you a pleasant experience even if you are not religious. The artwork, the setting, and over two decades of craftsmanship which has been invested in making the temple what it is today, definitely deserves a place in the hearts and memories of its visitors.
Birla Mandir is located at a prime location in Kolkata and can be reached from anywhere in the city. You can take a taxi to the temple, a city bus, an AC bus, or shared autos. Ask your hotel staff and they will guide you.