Thursday, October 2, 2014
Umapathy Street in West Mambalam is so narrow that two cars have to slow down to a crawl to get past each other without scraping paint. And if a vehicle comes in from a side street - say, J.P. Street - in a little bit of a hurry, it would cause a gridlock that would make Kolkata proud. And it should, too, for this is where a teeny-weeny bit of Kolkata pops its head up in Chennai.
The Madras Kali Bari Temple was inaugurated on February 3, 1981. It does not have the gopurams typical of Tamil Nadu temples, but is a nine-spired tower, in the Navaratna style of Bengali temple architecture. All nine spires are on a single tower, spread over two levels - or three, if you consider the tallest, single spire as a separate level. The other two levels are kind of concentric squares, with a spire at each corner. In that design, the Madras Kali Bari takes inspiration from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple near Kolkata. A magnet for Bengalis of Chennai, the temple is especially crowded during the Durga Puja season, giving the area an additional layer of traffic, and an enhanced Kolkata touch.
Inside, the meditation hall in front of the sanctum has been converted into a puja pandal. On ashtami day today, the pandal was full. There were enough locals in the crowd - but there was very little to be heard of any language other than Bengali. And though there was a separate area housing the Golu, the focus was on Ma Durga!