The Belur Math is regarded as ‘A Symphony in Architecture’. This temple is one of the architectural wonders of India that represents the idea of Universal Faith. The temple was conceptualized by none other than Swami Vivekananda, the renowned disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who took Hindu religion to the Western world. His idea and vision has inspired millions and today The Ramakrishna Mission stands as an exemplary work of the great Monk and his brother disciples who pledged to serve the humanity selflessly.
Located on the banks of the serene Ganges, the 40 acre campus includes temples dedicated to the great Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. The campus also has a museum containing artifacts related to the history of Ramakrishna Mission, the samadhi mandir of Swami Vivekananda and his brother disciples and the house facing the Ganges where Swami Ji spent his last few days. Adjoining the Math there are many educational Institutions affiliated with Ramakrishna Mission. The place is a prime center of pilgrimage and a heritage site of national importance.
Location of Belur Math near Kolkata
It is situated in Howrah on the banks of Ganges River.
History of Belur Math near Kolkata
The visionary idea of Swami Vivekananda and his brother disciples to carry forward the teachings of their Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa resulted in the establishment of the Belur Math. The temple is designed to celebrate the diversity of all religions. Before the establishment of Belur temple, Swami Ji spent many days as a parivrajaka (wandering monk) with his fellow brother monks travelling far ends of the country to serve the poor, sick and destitute. It was during this tour that he gathered idea of building an institution inspired from different architectural monuments and ancient temples of India. Soon after, he left for the West to attend the historic conference in the World Parliament of Religion that took him across various European architectural styles of buildings. After enthralling the West with his inspirational speech on Universal Brotherhood of all religion, he returned to India to start work on his mission. The first task was to establish this beautiful monastery.
The foundation stone was laid on 16th May, 1935 by Swami Shivananda. The temple was built with Swami Ji’s idea of incorporating the symbolism of all religions of the world into a unique architectural structure that will speak of Universalism of Faith. The temple was designed by his brother disciple Swami Vijnanananda, a civil engineer in his pre-monastic life. The massive construction was done by Martin Burn & Company.
Architectural Design Of the Belur Math Temple
The architecture of the temple is an amalgamation inspired from the architectural design of different religious faiths. The main gateway of the temple is modeled on the high temple entrances of South India with a hint of Buddhist style. The main temple’s central dome is a replica of European architecture from the Renaissance period while the floor is made in shape of the Holy Cross of Christians. The other three umbrella shaped domes are inspired by the thatched roof styles of Kamarpukur village of Bengal. The exterior walls are adorned in Ajanta styled architecture with different figurines of celestial beings. The windows and balconies remind one of the Rajput and Mughal period. The temple is mainly built of chunar stone and cement. The height of the temple is 112.5 feet (34.3 m) and covers a total area of 32,900 sq ft (3,060 m2). There is a Natmandir or congregation hall attached to the main temple building with Greek styled pillars on both side and embellished with decorations inspired from the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. There is a beautiful pathway for doing parikrama or circular rounds around the main sanctum sanctorum that is built like the Buddhist chatiyas. There is a Golden kalasha placed on the top of the central dome underneath a full-bloomed lotus.
- The Belur Math conducts many humanitarian and social activities all over India and abroad. Their work mainly includes medical services, educational institutions, welfare of women and uplift of the laboring and backward classes, relief works and spiritual and cultural activities.
- The annual celebrations of Durga Puja and Kumari Puja are one of the main attractions. The tradition of Kumari Puja was started by Swami Vivekananda in 1901. The Math also celebrates annual birthdays of Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda along with other eminent monastic disciples.
- The Belur Math not only celebrates traditional Hindu festivals but it also celebrates Christmas Eve and Buddha Jayanti with great fervor. The Christmas Eve celebration with the singing of Carols and reading from the Bible is very impressive.
- Evening ‘Aratis’ after sunset is delightful to watch. Just minutes before the evening arati starts, a bell is rung to indicate visitors to join the evening prayers inside the Sri Ramakrishna Temple. Loitering on the math Ground is prohibited at that time.