Ramakrishna Paramhansa, known as the Prophet of Modern Age and his wife and spiritual counterpart, Ma Sarada are known to bring renaissance to the religious life of the common men. With their simplistic lifestyle and preaching in lucid language, these nineteenth century mystics rule the hearts of masses till date. Ramakrishna Mission runs on the preaching of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada and is engaged in various social services.
A pilgrimage to Kamarpukur
Kamarpukur is the birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna, located at the Hooghly district of West Bengal. Besides regular bus service, you can also reach the place via car.
As you approach the birthplace of the saint, you will come across several schools, guest houses and dispensaries constructed by Ramakrishna Mission for the upliftment of the locals. The guest houses are affordable, offering simple food and lodging. The best time to visit this place is during the ‘Kalpataru Utsav,’ which takes place every year during the first week of January; it is the celebration of the divine transformation of the Lord into a Kalpataru (magical tree) which has the power to grant all your good wishes.
The birthplace of Lord Ramakrishna is located within a complex, maintained by the Mission. The whole place is enveloped with peace and serenity; attain the evening aarti which is accompanied with melodious chants to rejuvenate your heart and soul. Among the other must visits are the ‘Haldar Pukur,’ the bathing ghat of the Lord and his family; the pond is also known as the ‘Choto Ganga,’ meaning the small Ganges.
Visit the ‘Pathshala,’ the village school where Ramakrishna Dev used to study. Just opposite the small school lies the Durga Temple of the Laha family, the then zamindars of Kamarpukur. The nearby Vishnu Mandir was the seat of Ramakrishna, (known as Gadadhar that time) for painting pictures of Goddess Kali, escaping from his school. The guides accompany you to these places narrating the remarkable incidents of Ramakrishna Dev that took place at Kamarpukur.
A blissful journey to Jairambati
Located just 6 kms from Kamarpukur is Jairambati, the birthplace of Sarada Devi. Jairambati is located at Kotulpur region of Bankura district. You can also be at Jairambati first and then at Kamarpukur, as there are lots of vans available at Jairambati which take you to Kamarpukur. Both these spots have safe parking facilities.
As you reach Jairambati, you get a glimpse of rustic village life of West Bengal. The thatched huts, the small ponds and the easy lifestyle of the locals enhance the beauty of your journey. Here also the birthplace and the house of Sarada Devi (which is a mud house with thatched roof) is looked after by the Mission. Prayers automatically come out of heart as you sit in front of the large serene statue of Ma Sarada. The whole complex is not only stunningly clean instead of having so many visitors day in and day out but is also impressive with bright, aromatic flowers.
Devotees do not miss to have ‘bhog’ here, a simple but delicious lunch of rice, vegetable curry, sweets and fruits. You have lot of souvenirs to buy here; be it the idols of Goddess Kali or rare photographs of Lord Ramakrishna and Ma Sarada. Do sip the steaming hot tea and savory sweets to get the real taste of Bengal.
Last but not the least; the visiting hours are stringent:
April to September:
6 am to 12.00 pm & 4 pm to 9 pm
October to March:
6.30 am to 11.30 am & 3.30 pm to 8.30 pm
Best Time to Visit: First Week of January which is the time for Kalpataru Utsav.
Hence enjoy a weekend where a different facet of spirituality evolved; be at Kamarpukur and Jairambati.