Kali Mandir, located on the Bangla Sahib Marg is one of the oldest in the City, dating back 500 years. Back then, this little temple used to be on a small hill/tila and known more for the Shivling that had surfaced naturally from the ground. It was surrounded by Panchkuian Gaon, Kashyap Gaon, Raja ki Mandi and the Raisina Hills.
The second oldest temple after Kalka Mandir (near Nehru Place) this temple used to draw many sadhus here who came as much for worship, as they did to smoke a chillum - Lord Shiva’s preferred smoke!
Pandit Mahant Om Nath Sharma, the chief priest today says that, “Initially, the place had only the Shivling but later, when Rashtrapati Bhavan was being constructed, the labourers working on that site, put an idol of Goddess Kali made from red stone at this spot. Since then, it has been known as Kali Mandir.” Today, the temple also houses idols of Lord Hanuman, Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati.
“The temple has a special significance on Ram Navami, when thousands of devotees throng the place. We also offer liquor to Kali on occasions like Amavasya and Navami and on Holi and Diwali.”
The temple has been a favourite with politicians like the late Dr Rajendra Prasad, Indira Gandhi, L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, V P Singh. The current president Pranab Mukherjee is also a regular visitor to the temple. “We get many politicians who come to pay their obeisance. It is centrally located but more importantly the devotees throng here because of its history and the faith that this temple gives them ‘shakti’.”
He also mentions that the late Kundan Lal Saigal used to come and sing bhajans at the temple. Radio jockeys from All India Radio also used to frequent this temple and offered their first salary cheque to invoke the Goddess’ blessings.
The priest today aged 71 and who has travelled to over 16 countries to sing devotional songs, says, “I am also a writer and have written many songs which have been sung by Anuradha Paudwal, Suresh Wadkar and Mahendra Kapoor.” The temple sees nearly 2000 visitors everyday and also offers bhandaras quite regularly.