Kolkata is one of the first urban setups of British India. No wonder it will have oodles of heritage. The headquarters of Maha Bodhi Society of India has been located here since the early 1900s. This is a hidden gem of Kolkata, trust us. We visited the Buddhist Temple here and can say, it is a must-do in Kolkata for folks interested in art, history, philosophy or sheer photography.
Maha Bodhi Society of India
The Maha Bodhi Society is a South Asian Buddhist society that was established to revive Buddhism in this part of Asia. Anagarika Dharmapala from Sri Lanka chose Kolkata, then Calcutta, as the head-quarter of Maha Bodhi Society. Operations started here since the year 1920. Maha Bodhi Society is now one of the prime Buddhist organizations of the country.
Buddha Temple – Maha Bodhi Society of India, Kolkata
Between the two of us, Bedabrata has been born and raised in Kolkata. He was aware of Maha Bodhi Society since long. Yet, he had never visited this place. That afternoon too, we were headed to Central Calcutta, College Street area. College Street oozes centuries of heritage. The University of Calcutta, the first western-style educational institution of Asia established in the year 1857 is also located here. It is also one of the oldest rare book markets in Asia. Also, Indian Coffee House, that oozes years of heritage, is located here. This café was our destination. Once done with Coffee House, we went for a walk around and chanced upon the Maha Bodhi Society board. The façade looked very impressive with colonial stucco work and we were kind of drawn into the building.
The first floor was a hall where a private function was taking place. We walked up the stairs and on the first floor was a temple dedicated to Lord Buddha.
Once we entered the shrine, we were awestruck by the amazing paintings decorating the walls and the ceiling. Stories from the pre-births of Buddha as a Bodhhisattwa, or the seeker of enlightenment, and life of Buddha were depicted here. The hall reminded us of the painted Ajanta Caves that also are all about Buddhist iconography. Notwithstanding the bright colours, there was a sense of serenity and meditative peace. That’s when we decided we needed to bring these visuals to you by way of a post and a vlog.
How to reach Maha Bodhi Society, Kolkata
Maha Bodhi Society is located in the heart of Kolkata and is easily approachable via bus or the famous yellow taxi in the city. You can also hail a radio taxi or take the metro. The nearest metro station is College Street and you can walk from here. Sealdah Railway Station is also in the vicinity and you can walk it from here. Once you reach here, in case you seek directions, ask anyone where is Coffee House, one of the most famous landmarks on College Street. Maha Bodhi Society is a few steps away from Coffee House.
Maha Bodhi Society may not feature in the regular to-do list of Kolkata. But if you are interested in art or philosophy, Maha Bodhi Society is a hidden gem of Kolkata that you shouldn’t miss.