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Access to Darshan at Dakshineswar Kali temple becomes faster

Skywalk designed by Design Forum International is the heart way to the Goddesses

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The Dakshineswar Temple, located on the banks of the Ganges river, is a highly revered place of worship for Hindus.It draws a large number of devotees, which in turn lead to the appearance of several shops and kiosks; the approach road to the temple, as a result, has become increasingly congested.
Kolkata city is home to some of the most revered places of worship of Hinduism. The seat of divine female power, Shakti, the Dakshineswar Kali temple draws huge numbers of devotees all around the year and is one of the most visited places of worship in this famous and popular temple in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal. Located on the banks of Ganges at the northern tip of the metropolis, this place of worship was originally built by Rani Rashmoni.The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali and is associated with Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly river, alongside the Vivekananda Bridge, north of Kolkata. It is about 20 kms from the famous BBD Bagh of Kolkata.

The main deity of the temple is Kali Devi. There are numerous other shrines in the temple compound. The temple is 12 spires and very huge. There are 12 small shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kali’s companion. There is a temple dedicated to Radha-Krishna. One more shrine for Rani Rashmoni, a bookshop and a bathing ghat on the river. In the north-west corner of the temple, there is the room of Sri Ramakrishna where he spent a considerable part of his life.

The nearest international airport is Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport. The nearest railway station is Howrah junction and the suburban station is Dakshineshwar. The nearest metro station is Dum Dum. The temple is well connected to other parts of the state through roadways. Very easy to visit once reached Kolkata, however accessing temple for darshan is a long process due to man-made obstruction arising through encroachments gives a tedious and time-consuming moment.

In the earlier days, visiting by boat was one of the most preferred ways to reach the temple, and by road being the second. The approach road to the temple, that was once predominantly pedestrian, now caters to growing vehicular traffic of private cars, taxis, two-wheelers and goods vehicles. Increased footfalls over the years have brought in a lot of shops and kiosks catering to the visitors. Finding no other space to occupy, these shops have filled the footpath, pushing pedestrians to the road jostling for space with rickshaws, cars and goods vehicles. Further, the approach road is extremely slow moving and congested during regular days and a logistics nightmare on festive days.

The temple is accessed through a single 10.5 meters wide road, almost 400 meters in length. There is no scope for expansion laterally since either side is occupied by Railway staff quarters. The street originates at a traffic roundabout, leading to Vivekanand Setu in the western direction and Ramkrishna Paramhans Dev Road leading north. This roundabout is also the entrance point for the Dakshineswar temple Railway Station and the bus stop. The convergence of buses, cars, slow-moving traffic like rickshaws, railway commuters and goods vehicles cause massive pile-up at the rotary.

Therefore, this roundabout is the first point of focus for an intervention, followed by the approach road to the temple. Collating the design brief from the West Bengal Government and KMDA for resolving this situation, Design Forum International conceptualized 380 meters long and 10.5 meters wide Skywalk. This state-of-the-art Skywalk creates a connection between the roundabout and the entrance gates of the temple compound with a provision of 12 escalators, 4 elevators and 8 staircases to allow devotees and users to embark and disembark from the Skywalk. The Skywalk also relocates over 200 shops that are currently operating on the Rani Rashmoni Road; it integrates the walking con-course, shops, escalators and elevators with a provision to connect it to the Railways footbridge as well, with separate lanes for motorized and non-motorized.

There are also plans for connecting the railway footbridge to the Skywalk allowing for devotees using the Dakshineswar railway station directly from the railway platform level. There are further embarking and disembarking points at the other intersecting streets allowing for convenience of the local residents and shoppers. The temple gates end of the Skywalk has a set of 1 escalator, 1 elevator and 1 staircase on both the disembarkation and embarkation ends. All access points are treated as all-weather glass enclosures with adequate safety measures.

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This 380 M long and 10.5 M wide Skywalk designed by Design Forum International is the heart way to Goddesses, Dakshineswar Skywalk, Kolkata - Design Forum International Modernizing Metropolis
Access to the Skywalk: The points of embarkment are on the PWD road, at the railway station and the Ramakrishna Paramhans Dev road. Escalators, elevator and staircases service each of these points. The escalators flank a middle staircase for people reluctant to use those, elevators allow for the convenience of movement for the old and the infirm as well as handicapped access. There are also plans for connecting the railway footbridge to the skywalk allowing for devotees using the Dakshineswar railway station directly from the railway platform level. There are further embarkment and disembarkment points at the other intersecting streets allowing for convenience of the local residents and shoppers. The temple gates end of the Skywalk has a set of 1 escalator, 1 elevator and 1 staircase on both the disembarkation and embarkation ends. All access points are treated as all-weather glass enclosures with adequate safety measures taken at the design level.

The Skywalk as a concept is rooted in modernity, a contemporary response to the problems generated over the years. The modernity of the concept found its reflection in the dynamism of its form, a never-ending stream of the faithful finding its reflection in the pulsating waveform, the adaptability to context found its reflection in the fluidity of its form.Furthermore, the project is proposed to be linked to the neighbouring railway station, allowing users to travel to the temple directly.

The temple has a remarkable history. It was constructed by Rani Rashmoni in 1847. She was a wealthy widow who prepared to go on a long pilgrimage to Kashi. She express her devotions to the Divine mother and on the night before the pilgrimage, Rashmoni had a vision of Divine mother in her dream. Goddess Kali ordered her to install her deity in a beautiful temple on the banks of Ganga and arrange for her worship, instead of going to pilgrimage. The Divine mother promised her that She will manifest herself in the image and accept worship at that place. Rashmoni was profoundly affected by the dream and came to this spot and constructed this beautiful temple. The temple was built between 1847 and 1855.

Sri Ramakrishna: Spiritual giant Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa served as temple’s head priest for several years. There is so much literature on how Sri Ramakrishna served the Divine Mother. He was filled with a rare form of love for the Mother which is called Maha-Bhava. He was often seen immersed in a spiritual trance and lost consciousness of the external world. He was a rare person who realized the all-inclusive nature of the divine.

If you visit Kolkata, Dakshineshwar is a must-see place. The temple remains open from 6 AM to 12 20 PM and 3 00 PM to 8 30 or 9 00 PM.

This New Delhi-based Design Forum International has recently executed plans for the Dakshineswar Sky Walk, an urban intervention designed to improve traffic and movement leading to the Dakshineswar Kali temple. A company started in the year 1995, by three young architecture graduates from IIT Kharagpur started an architectural practice called Tevatia, Chauhan & Sharma Architects (TCS). In 2003, the practice was rechristened as Design Forum International (DFI) headed by three partners Anand Sharma, Anoj Tevatia, and Goonmeet Chauhan, with a clear intent to foster an egalitarian organizational ethos where distinctive architectural talent finds self-expression and can contribute in a democratic and collaborative work environment. The practice has since grown from strength to strength pursuing a distinctive value-based architectural spirit that DFI imbues with a portfolio covering a large array of work in the domain of architecture.

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