Ambika Kalna or basically Kalna is a town, a region and home office of Kalna subdivision in Bardhaman District in the Indian province of West Bengal. It is situated on the western bank of the Bhāgirathi. The town is more popularly known as Ambika Kalna, named after famous god, Goddess Kali, Maa Ambika. It has various historical landmarks, for example, the Rajbari (the royal residence) and the 108 Shiva temples. The town of Kalna, is 60 kilometres from Bardhaman, the district headquarters. Located only 82km from kolkata. Kalna can be a perfect journey on any Sunday and as an excursion back in time and once more into the pages of history.
We planned to visit there with my group friends and left for Kalna by Katwa Local, which leaves Sealdah station at 7.57 a.m. the Katwa local took about 2 hours 45 minutes to reach Kalna. we hired a van rickshaw (instead of cycle rickshaw from the station) for Rs 150 (but it is subject to heavy bargain) just outside the station. Once flourished as a prosperous port town. It reached its pinnacle of glory during the late 18th century under the patronage of the Maharajas of Bardhaman, who built several magnificent temples with intricate terracotta ornamentation. The maritime trade has long stopped and Kalna has lost the status of a flourishing port city. But the temples are still there, reminding one of Kalna’s glorious past. Apart from the temples, Kalna has several religious structures dedicated to Sree Chaitanya one of the greatest social reformers of Bengal. Though their roots were in Punjab, the royal family of Burdwan contributed immensely to the glory of ancient Bengal. The royals were keen patrons of the arts and several temples of burnt clay – terracotta were constructed during their reign.
Set of 108 Shiva temples, the van rickshaw first took us to the most eye-catching of the Kalna landmarks – a set of 108 Shiva temples within a single complex. Maharaja Teja-chandra sponsored the temples, completed in 1809. The project celebrated the transfer of ownership of the Bishnupur royal estate.
The temples are divided into 2 rows. The first row has 64 temples, out of which 32 have white and 32 black Shiva lingas. The other row consists of the rest of the 44 temples, of which two are empty. All the constructions are in the typical aatchala style Pratapeshwar Temple
On the opposite side of the street lies a walled complex, containing the most differentiated type of Bengal’s temple architecture. The star fascination of the complex is the Pratapeshwar Temple – the principle fascination of Kalna. The temple was constructed in his memory in 1849 by his first wife Priya Kumari., with its exquisite shape and rich terracotta ornamentation. It is Designed by Ramhori Mistry, the temple is outstanding amongst other terracotta temple in Bengal.
The close-by (30 meters away) Ananta-Basudev Mandir is another interesting terracotta temple, yet unfortunately just a couple of the remaining have survived the trial of time. Raja Tilokchand’s pet project was worked in 1754 in the two-fold aatchala style. The temple was redesigned by the Birlas in 1964. Kalna turns out to be a one of a kind journey as well as a door to the superb days of Bengal’s temple design.
Getting there: Howrah – Katwa local (Howrah departure 07:53, Ambika Kalna arrival 09:48) Sealdah – Katwa local (Sealdah departure 07:57, Ambika Kalna arrival 10:30)
Getting around: Rickshaws are the only alternative. It takes 2 ½ to 3 hours for the entire trip. Charges are about Rs75-100 per rickshaw for the entire trip, but it is subject to heavy bargain.
Places to eat: The temples & pilgrimages of Kalna can be covered in a day. There are several places to eat at reasonable prices. Getting back: Katwa – Howrah local leaves Kalna at 16:20. Katwa – Sealdah local leaves Kalna at 17:20.