Kali Temple (Kalighat), built in 1809, is Kolkata’s (Calcutta) holiest Hindu site and a major pilgrimage site for Hindu devotees from around the country; with over 20,000 people visiting each day. The name of the city is said to have been derived from the temple’s name.
Kali Temple, a complex devoted to Kali, the patron goddess of Kolkata, is steeped in history and legend as violent and grisly as the goddess herself. According to myth, as the Lord Shiva was performing a dance of destruction with the corpse of Kali on his shoulders, her body was sliced into several pieces and scattered across the land. The Kali Temple is said to have been built where a toe of her right foot landed.
Human sacrifices were supposedly performed in Kali’s name on the grounds of the temple during the nineteenth century, and if you visit today, vestiges of this ancient practice remain in a daily goat sacrifice in the enclosure just to the south of the temple. Non-Hindus may not enter the inner sanctum of the temple, but you can still explore the surrounding courtyards and flower markets.