Belur Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, founded in 1898 by Swami Vivekananda. It features architectural elements borrowed from Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism, a nod to the mission’s beliefs in interfaith unity. Depending on your vantage point, Belur Math can resemble a church, mosque, or temple.
Spread across 40 acres (16 hectares) of beautifully manicured grounds on the banks of the Hooghly River, the Belur Math grounds are home to a number of temples and shrines along with a 2-story museum dedicated to Ramakrishna and the Ramakrishna movement. While many people come to pay their respects at the shrines or just admire the architecture, Belur Math’s lovely grounds also make it a popular spot for picnickers.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Belur Math is a must-visit for those with an interest in spirituality or architecture.
- You’ll be expected to remove your shoes before entering the shrines and temples here.
- Note that photography is only allowed in certain parts of the campus; look for signs, or ask if you are uncertain.
When to Get There
Belur Math is open April through September, daily from 6am to 11:30 am and 4pm to 7pm. From October to March, opening hours are 6:30am to 11:30am and 3:30pm to 6pm. Aartis (religious ceremonies with flame offerings and chanting) are held every evening just before sunset. Belur Math is at its most crowded around the birth anniversaries of Vivekananda (January 12) and Ramakrishna (February 18) and during the Durga Puja celebrations (usually in October).
How to Get There
Belur Math is located on the western banks of the Hooghly River, right off the Grand Trunk Road. It's a good half-hour drive from the Maidan/Park Avenue area, where many of the city's tourist attractions are located, and is easiest accessed by taxi. Alternatively, the INOX R.D. Mall railway station is a 5-minute drive or 15-minute walk away.
The Ramakrishna Mission is named for Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda’s guru, who inspired the movement with his teachings on the unity of faith among all religions. Ramakrishna believed in the sanctity of all living things and encouraged social welfare, as reflected by the mission's strong focus on providing health care and education to the needy.