The Kalka Mandir popularly known as Kalkaji Temple is one of the well known ancient temples dating some 3,000 year ago that is situated atop a small hill in Delhi near Okhla and the famous Baha'i Lotus Temple. It lies just a kilometre away from Nehru Place which is a famous commercial centre and known as the electronics hub of Delhi. This location also allows tourist to visit an ancient nearby edict of Asoka that dates back to the 3rd Century BC and hence is easily accessible via local transport.
The Kalkaji Temple is dedicated to the famous Goddess Kali Maa and because of its ancient existence; the nearby locality also adopted the name 'Kalkaji'. Constructed around 1764 AD, the Kalkaji Temple is one of the oldest surviving temples in Delhi that homes the ancient and sacred shrine of Goddess Kali who was probably worshipped by the legendary Pandavas and Kauravas of the Mahabharata fame.
Unfortunately, only one portion of this ancient Kalkaji Temple exist today on the top most part of the hill while the rest was renovated during the mid 19th Century AD by Raja Kedarnath who was a renowned treasurer in the courts of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The recreated portion of the temple is seen in the shape of a 12-sided structure made completely of marble and black pumice stone. The architecture was left untouched as it was before while the only addition are a number of Dharamshala or Inns constructed around the temple to provide shelter to travellers and devotees visiting the temple travelling from far places and neighbouring states.
The Kalkaji Mandir is also equipped with good lighting and cool atmosphere which allow all devotees to mediate within the temple premises up till long hours and even throughout the night. The temple is generally filled with more women than men who are ardent worshippers of Goddess Kali. One can also witness the spectacular Tantric Aarti which is held within the temple at 1900 hours or 07:00 PM every evening. The temple is a must visit during the Navratra Pujas which last for nine whole days accompanied by singing of devotional hymns, a fair filled with visitors and sellers and colourful decorations.
Apart from the festival celebrations, the Kalkaji temple performs a regular ritual of bathing the Idol of Goddess Kali with milk also known as 'Mata Snanam' where 'Mata' means 'Mother' and 'Snanam' means 'Bathing'. After the bathing ritual, an Aarti is performed at 0600 hours and 1930 hours every day followed by a recital of a devotional hymn. These Pujas are specially performed by the temple priests who are descendents of four major clans of 'Thulas' known as the 'Brahmin Priests' and one clan of 'Jogis' or 'Mahants' who were Hindu religious Leaders or Heads of the Temple.
The Kalkaji Temple offers an airy and spiritual ambience to all visitors and it is open on all days from early mornings to late at night. Visitors and tourists can also enjoy the folktales that surrounds this spectacular ancient temple due to its ancient existence and get transformed into a world of a bygone era that once was known as the Holy city or the first city of Delhi named 'Indraprastha' ruled by the great legendary Pandav Brothers.