Agni Mandir is the Parsee place for worship and offering prayers. The Parsees are the followers of Zorathrushtra. They worship the ‘fire’ as sacrosanct. Their origin is in Persia. In the 7th century A.D., the Muslims had evicted the Samaniya regal family from Persia. Henceforth, a chunk of the Parsees abandoned their mother-land and came to Gujarat in India. At present, they have mingled with the Indians and have spread sporadically all over India including Kolkata.The Parsees have two ‘Agni Mandirs’ in Kolkata. One is situated at Ezra Street and another lies in Metcalfe Lane. The one at Ezra Street is older. Rustamji Kawasaji, an opulent ship merchant donated generously to construct this temple which came into existence on 16th September, 1839.The temple premises are paved with exquisite marble stones. A stair-case leads to the verandah. Inside the temple, there is a triangular hall. The room where the devoted Parsees worship is known as ‘holy of holys’. From the roof of this room hangs an iron chain with a bell tied to it. A perennial flame of fire is burning on a silver tray which is inexhaustible. Sandal wood is used as the only fuel to ignite this fire. But this place is reserved. None other than the priest and his attendants are allowed to enter here. The admittance of any person save the Parsees is strictly forbidden.The Agni Mandir at Ezra Street is closed at present. But the one at Metcalfe Lane is open to all. It was established on 12th October, 1912. It has a spacious hall in the ground floor. Many religious festivals are celebrated here with pomp and dignity. On the top floor burns the ‘sacred’ fire of the Persians. Admittance is strictly forbidden there. However, there is a picture of this holy fire in the first floor from which one can apprehend about the original one.
Getting there and Around
By Air –
Kolkata is well connected by air to all major countries in the world, as well as to Indian cities. The air carriers that have flights to and from the city include Aeroflot, Air France, Air India, Biman Bangladesh, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Nepal Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.
By Rail –
Trains are available from all parts of the country to Calcutta. Most inward bound trains stop at Howrah, which is also the station from which major trains to other cities depart. Most trains heading to areas such as New Jalpaiguri and other provinces in the north-east stop at the other station, Sealdah. Local trains to nearby towns are available from both stations, depending on which part of West Bengal you want to go to. Since Howrah and Sealdah are not exactly a hop, skip and jump away from each other, do remember to check which station you need you board your train from, when you buy your ticket!
By Road –
A few buses ply from Orissa and Bihar to Calcutta. However, these are highly uncomfortable and best avoided. Buses are also available to nearby towns, especially if you wish to visit Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri on your trip to Calcutta. Depending on which direction you’re heading in, buses could depart from the end of the Maidan near Chowringhee Road, or the bus stand at Babu Ghat near Fort William. A few tour operators have their own private bus stands, so do make inquiries.
Accommodation is not a problem in Kolkata as there are thousands of Hotels Ranging from Luxurious to Budget hotels,Lodges ,Guest houses and Resting beds per hour are also available.
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