Floating over Hooghly - A ferry ride between Belur and Dakshnineshwar

On that foggy January morning, River Hooghly looked quite calm. I was on the ferry station near the Belur Math   waiting for the ferry that service between Belur and Dakshineswar Kali temple. Belur math in Kolkata is a monastery and head quarters of Ramakrishna mission.

The ferry between Belur Math and Dakshineswar Kali temple - Kolkata
The ferry between Belur Math and Dakshineswar Kali temple - Kolkata 


I had a serene morning at the Belur Math(Belur Mutt). It was quite an enlightening experience to be in the place where great men like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekanada once lived and taught. Premises of Belur Math and the temples are beautifully maintained and has a spiritual air about them. However, I can never meditate in a temple! So I enjoyed the architecture, the well maintained gardens, and above all the calmness of Belur Math.

Belur Math 

Swami Vivekananda memorial at Belur Math - Kolkata
Swami Vivekananda memorial at Belur Math - Kolkata 


The  ferry station is located at a walkable distance from the Belur Math. It was chilly in the early morning, however my soul felt quite warm as I was about to fulfill one of my long term dreams. My parents visited Kolkata(then it was Culcutta) when they were about my age. It is one of my childhood memories listening to my father talking  about River Hooghly and  Howrah bridge. However, I had to wait 30 years to finally see Hooghly.

A morning ferry ride over Hooghly river 

From the moment I reached Kolkata, I never failed to notice how commodities are very cheap there. One of my breakfast - Poori Subji and a sweet - costed me just 12 Indian rupees. Being from Bangalore, it was a cultural shock for me! Even the ferry ride between Belur Math and Dakshineswar Kali temple costed me only 10 rupees. Now I clearly understand why my Bengali friends get really pissed off when they go shopping in Bangalore. The ferry arrived after 10 minutes of waiting. As the ferry started moving slowly, I saw the fishermen expectantly starting the day's work.

Fishermen at work in River Hooghly

I have always felt River Hooghly has a mysterious air about her. She has quietly witnessed thousands of years of history happening on her banks. Be it the medieval legends of human sacrifice in Kalighat, the plush lives in Havelis, philosophical, political and artistic renaissance, freedom struggle and the the communal violence of the past. I have always felt Hooghly would tell a thousand stories if she could talk.


An old temple by the banks of Hooghly river 

As the journey progressed I was looking at some of the Kolkata sights which can only be offered by a ferry ride on Hooghly. I spotted an ancient temple which I couldn't quite recognize. However I was quite drawn to the  antiquity of this temple. I wondered about the architectural variance of these temples from those in South India. It is difficult to even believe that both belong to the same country.

An old temple by the banks of Hooghly river 


I passed through many Ghats , some were well maintained and others looked like they still stuck in some older century. I saw some of the old homes in ruin, whose algae induced  color matched with that of the water. I sensed the smell of alluvial soil and fish.

An old building by the banks of Hooghly River 


The ferry was slowly approaching the Dakshineswar Kali temple. I had visited the crowded temple on the evening before. As it was swarming with devotees I couldn't quite  appreciate its beauty then. However the temple looks quite stunning from the Hooghly river. My ferry ride between Belur Math and Dakshnishwar Kali temple was coming to a close. Also it was one of the rides I would always cherish in my memories.

Dakshineshwar Kali temple - A view from the Hooghly Eiver


I don't know if I am being romantic, or the River has its own charm. I felt that the ferry ride on the chilly morning a spiritual experience. Spiritual not in the sense of finding God, but spiritual in the sense of calmness. A feeling of ease that comes with not needing to run anywhere to finish anything. I would rather call it a pocket of stillness in the otherwise busy life.


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