Sprawling over forty acres of land on the west bank of the Hooghly River the Belur Math Shrine in Kolkata is a place of pilgrimage. It is also the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. The Math campus includes temples that are dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. The foundation stone of the Math was laid on 16th May 1935, and the structure was built under Swami Vivekananda's guidance, incorporating the features and symbols of all religions across the world, into a single structure. This is something unique to the organisation.
Having returned from Colombo with a small group of western disciples in the January of 1897, Swami Vivekananda founded two monasteries, one at Belur, which went on to become the headquarters of Ramakrishna mission and the second monastery was founded at Mayavati in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. The sole purpose of building the monasteries was to train young monks-in-making of the monastic philosophies and way of life and then being ordained into the Ramakrishna order.
Architecture of Belur Math
The design of the Belur Math was envisaged by Swami Vivekananda, and the responsibility of the architecture was laid in his hands. The architecture and design of the temple 'celebrate the diversity of Indian Religions'. The incorporation of architectural styles from different religions conveys the universal faith in which the movement believes in. The architectural style of this monument has been inspired by the diversity of all Indian religions as well as from ancient styles of temples and Buddhist stupas.
Structure of Belur Math Shrine
The temple is built of chunar stone and concrete, with a height of 112.5 feet spread across 32,900 square feet. The architectural style of the temple is based around the vision of one universal faith, which was ideated by Swami Vivekananda. The main architect of the temple was Swami Vijnanananda who was a direct monastic disciple of Ramakrishnan.
The designs on high entrance of the temple are heavily influenced by motifs on the entrances at Sanchi Stupa and Gopurams of South Indian temples. The shrine comprises the three umbrellas like domes on the top of the thatched roofs that houses in Kamarpukur village, which is the birthplace of Sri Ramakrishna. The exterior walls of the temples are adorned with lattice sculptures of Navagraha figurines.
The architectural design of the central dome is a perfect example of the European renaissance. The architectural styles of windows and hanging balconies are a perfect blend of Mughal and Rajasthani style. The Natmandir or the assembly hall is connected to the main temple building and the hall is lined by Greek and Doric style pillars whereas the intricate designs on the beam above and brackets are mirrored with the ones at Meenakshi temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Places to see inside the campus of Belur Math are Sri Ramakrishna Temple or The Main Monastery, Swami Vivekananda Temple, Swami Vivekananda Room, Holy Mother Temple or Temple of Sri Sarada Devi, Swami Brahmananda Temple, Samadhi Enclosure and Ramakrishnan Museum
How to Reach Belur Math
Belur Math is about 4 km from Howrah Railway Station. All the modes of transport are available from the Howrah railway station and bus stand to reach Belur. One can use a bus, local train or ferry services to reach Belur Math from the railway station.
From Howrah Bus Station, Bus numbers 51, 54 and 56 will drop you at the math. From Garia/EM Bypass/Science City/Airport/Dakshineshwar/Bally take Bus number AC 50. Minibuses also ply from Esplanade and Howrah Station for the Belur math on a daily basis. You can hire a private cab for a hassle-free travelling within the city and enjoy all the sightseeing tour of Kolkata. There are frequent trains between Howrah and Belur as well as Belur Math stations.
The tourists can catch a ferry and enjoy the ride to reach the Belur Math. The ferry services run at half an hour interval from Dakshineswar to Belur Math and also, from Kuntighat to Belur Math.
Places to visit near Belur Math Shrine
Dakshineswar Kali Temple: This temple is dedicated to goddess Kali and was built during the 19th century. The Dakshineswar Kali Temple is being thrived by the devotees from all over the world. It is of great religious importance for the people in West Bengal. The temple also has a cluster of 12 shrines in their individual temples within the premises.
Howrah Bridge: It is iconic to West Bengal. It is the sixth-largest and the busiest cantilever (a type of mechanical structure) bridge in the world.
Victoria Memorial: It is a large marble stone building in Kolkata, built in the memory of Queen Victoria. It is a museum and art gallery. You can also find exhibitions at the place. So, it is a good place for shopping as well.
Best time to visit Belur Math
The best time to visit Belur Math Kolkata is during winters from November to October. During the summer months, April to September, outdoor locations the weather gets too hot and humid. Winter season is a great time to explore the shrine as the weather remains comfortable for the excursion.
Belur Math Timings
- April to September: 6:00 a.m to 11:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m
- October to March: 6:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m to 8:00 p.m
- The hours are extended on special days.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and closed on Mondays and selected public holidays. The timings are April to September: 8:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m and 4:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m
October to March: 8:30 a.m to 11:30 a.m and 3:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m
Belur Math Entry Fee: Nil
Note - Photography is strictly prohibited inside all temples and museum in Belur Math