Offering prayers in a city steeped in history can be an experience in itself. Kolkata, the City of Joy, is home to some of the most fascinating temples, churches, mosques, and synagogues that display excellent craftsmanship in terms of architecture. Domes, minarets, spires, cut-glasses, chandeliers, engravings and paintings adorn these places of worship and will fill you up with a sense of wonder. The Kalighat Kali Temple, Birla Mandir, Nakhoda Masjid, Armenian Church—all these are amongst the most prominent places to visit in Kolkata.
ARMENIAN CHURCH OF THE HOLY NAZARETH
Often referred to as the Mother Church of Indian Armenians, the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth is the oldest church in Kolkata. It was built by Agha Nazer in 1724 after the original existing structure was destroyed in a fire in 1688. The Holy Nazareth is one of the three existing Armenian churches in the city along with Saint Gregory the Illuminator and Saint Mary’s Church.
The largest mosque in Kolkata, the Nakhoda Masjid is one of the major tourist attractions of the city. It was built by Abdur Rahim Osman in 1926. He hailed from the region of Kutch in Gujarat and belonged to the Sunni Muslim community. Built on the lines of Akbar’s Tomb at Sikandra, the architecture of the mosque is a grand example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The entrance of the mosque has a striking resemblance to that of the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri.
Located in Ballygaunge, South Kolkata, the Birla Mandir is an exemplary work of art. The temple happens to be the city’s major crowd puller. The grand monument was built by the Birla Family and took roughly 26 years to complete. It was opened to the public in 1996. One of the architectural grandeur of the city, the craftsmanship of the temple is a hallmark of its magnificence.
MAGEN DAVID SYNAGOGUE
One of the two operational synagogues in the City of Joy, the Magen David Synagogue, is a prominent place of worship in Kolkata. While the synagogue does not pull a lot of tourists, the architecture definitely calls for appreciation. Constructed in the Italian Renaissance style with a red brick finish, there is a tall spire that rises above the structure like a beacon.
One of the more popular places of worship in Kolkata, the foundation of the Thanthania Kalibari dates back to 1803. It is believed to have been built by a wealthy local resident named Shankar Ghosh. While the temple is more than two centuries old, the deity is said to be older than that.
DAKSHINESHWAR KALI TEMPLE
Located on the banks of the Hooghly River, the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is one of the most popular places of worship not only in Kolkata but all across eastern India. The temple was founded by Rani Rashmoni in 1855, a philanthropist and an ardent devotee of goddess Kali.
KALIGHAT KALI TEMPLE
One of the 51 Shakti Peeths, the Kalighat Kali temple is one of the most well-known places of worship in Kolkata. The present temple dates back to the 19th century, however, it finds a reference in certain bhakti literature of Bengal dating back to the 15th and 17th centuries. This is evidence enough for the antiquity of the location.
ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
Streaks of European architecture are more than apparent at the St Paul’s Cathedral which is one of the finest examples of Indo-Gothic fusion with its large stained-glass windows and Florentine frescos. Functioning as a regular cathedral, this one is a popular tourist attraction in Kolkata, primarily of its stunning architectural design.
Belur Math is the headquarters of the International Ramakrishna Order and was established in 1897 by Sri Ramakrishna’s most prominent disciple, Swami Vivekananda. This breath-taking place is scattered with numerous shrines with manicured lawns that line the riverbank.