Tarakeshwar is a village and renowned pilgrimage centre, located in Hooghly District in the state of West Bengal. The town of Hooghly is located 58 kilometres away from Kolkata. Every year a number of devotees come here to take the blessings of lord Shiva and other deities. The place is acknowledged as a pilgrimage of Shiva and most of the temples over here are devoted to Lord Shiva.
The famous Taraknath Temple in this village is one of the most visited temples in the town. The temple is dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva, ‘Taraknath’. The temple is believed to be built in 1729 AD by Raja Bharamalla.
There is a very famous legend about the origin of the lingam in the temple. A person called Vishnu Das and his brother came to Tarakeshwar from Ayodhya. Vishnu’s brother unearthed a Shivalingam in the forest after his brother proved his innocence by holding a red hot iron to the locals of the town, when they were suspected for a bad deed. He later revealed that he had a dream of Lord Shiva instructing him to construct a temple at that place.
The temple reflects the architecture of the local Bengali style, having an 'atchala' building structure with a 'natmandir' that is a place dedicated to offer prayers, in front. The temple has a sanctum and verandah with three open spires with railings.
The Tarakeshwar temple is a major Shivaite Pilgrim Centre, which comes under the twelve Jyotirlinga temples, and is dedicated to lord Shiva. The premise of the temple host shrines of Kali and Lakshmi-Narayan. The temple is most visited during the month of Shravan, which falls in the month of July or August.
Maha Shivratri is an important festivity celebrated in this town during the month of February-March. It is celebrated at the time of Lord Shiva’s birthday. During the celebration, fairs and shopping festivals become a major attraction of this town. Other festivals that attract tourists to come here is Bengali New Year or the Chaitra Sankranti festival.
The nearest airport to Tarakeshwar is Kolkata Airport, which is connected to all the important cities of India like Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. It is situated at a distance of 58 kilometres from Tarakeshwar. Tarakeshwar has its own railway station and is well connected to Howrah and other cities by rail. Tarakeshwar is connected with all the neighbouring cities of West Bengal by road.
The best time to visit Tarakeshwar is between October and March, as this time is ideal for sight seeing and religious visits to the temples.