Maa Annapurna Mandir of Barrackpore, built by Jagdamba Devi the youngest daughter of Rani Rashmoni and her husband Mathura Mohan Biswas can be called the exact replica of the famous Dakshineswar Mandir of Kolkata. It is said that around Rs 3 lakhs were spent to build this temple. The famous look-alike temple of Dakshineswar is situated in the Titagarh area of Barrackpore in North 24 Paraganas and stands by the bank of river Hoogly on the Rani Rashmoni Ghat.
Every year Maa Annapurna Puja is celebrated during the month of April when devotees throng in from everywhere to offer their prayers. It is said that Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa was present during the inauguration of this temple which took place on 12th April 1875 (2oth Chaitra 1281 of the Bengali Calendar)
Maa Annapurna Mandir has a great resemblance to the Dakshineswar temple. At a single glance, it would be difficult to differentiate between the two. Just that the deities worshipped in both temples are different. It is said that both the Dakshineswar Mandir and Maa Annapurna Mandir of Barrackpore were built by the same artisans.
Inside the main temple sanctum, you can see Lord Shiva and Maa Annapurna idols. The idol of Lord Shiva is made of silver and of Maa Annapurna is made of asthadhatu (astha means eight and dhatu means metal) which is an alloy of eight metals.
The morning arti begins at 5;30 am and the evening at 7 pm every day. Maa Annapurna is offered anna bhog comprising rice, bhaji, vegetables, dal, and sweets. The temple remains open in summer from 5:30 am to 12:30 pm and 4 pm to 8 pm. And in Winter from 6 am to 1 pm and 3:30 pm to 8 pm.
Brief information about Maa Annapurna in Hindu mythology
Annapurna where “Anna means food or grains” and “purna means full of”. We know that Maa Annapurna who is the manifestation of Goddess Parvati is worshipped as the food and nourishment giver of the world.
In various mythological scriptures, it is believed that the vessel that Maa Annapurna holds in her hand never goes out of food. She provides food and nourishment to all her devotees.
According to this ancient belief, you can see the deity inside the temple holding a pot in her hand to her right side Lord Shiva is seen standing, holding his trident and begging bowl and begging for alms from the Goddess.
It was quite a hot and humid day in the month of July when I visited the temple. I was accompanied by a young friend who stays in Kolkata and has in-depth knowledge about the numerous historical places of the city.
The temple premise which covers around 55 bighas of land was almost empty and I was the sole visitor. But I was lucky enough to offer my prayers as the main door of the temple was open with just the shutter gate closed.
The main temple is on a raised platform and consisted of aath chala roof (eight roof) and there was also a beautiful naat mandir on the right side. There are steps on the southern, eastern, and northern sides to get on to the main temple entrance for darshan.
There are many stories surrounding this temple that was built by Rani Rashmoni’s youngest daughter Jagdamba as I have mentioned right at the beginning. It is said that Jagdamba saw in her dreams that she isn’t supposed to go beyond the glory of her mother. So instead of 12 Shiva temples, as we can see in Dakshineswar Kalibari, there are only 6 aath chala Shiva temples surrounding the main temple built by Jagdamba.
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Another quite historical fact that goes with the Maa Annapurna Mandir is its main gate. On the top of the main gate, there is the statue of a lion which is said to protect the temple from all impending dangers. But it is said that during that time the British Government who were ruling over Bengal and other parts of the country were quite displeased at the presence of the lion statue.
They ordered to get it removed since the lion was the symbol of British authority and dominance so the temple had no right to use it. A long legal battle was fought after that the court gave its verdict in favor of the temple quoting, ” Art is art, let the art prevail”. Thus even to date, you can see the lion statues on top of the main gate.
How to reach Maa Annapurna Mandir of Barrackpore
The nearest train station is Barrackpore and the nearest metro station is the Baranagar metro station. From there you can take an auto to reach the temple. You can also board any bus from Shyambazar and get down at the Talpukur stoppage. From there you can walk or take an auto. The temple is very famous in the neighborhood and you can ask anyone for directions on the way.
This part of North 24 Parganas in Kolkata has quite a lot of beautiful temples with great historical references. The authorities do need to put a lot of attention to their maintenance and preservation of them.
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