Kali Mandir History

Bengali settlement in Delhi down the timeline

The first wave of Bengali settlers came when Calcutta and Delhi were first connected by train in 1864. With the shifting of capital to New Delhi in 1911, the shifting to government employees migrated to Delhi. Initially employees of central government departments like Post and Telegraph, Government of India Press, Accountant General of Central Revenues (AGCR) and Railways settled in Timarpur; thereafter in 1924, another phase of government housing came up near Gole Market for employees of the Secretariat. Overtime many employees after retirement settled in Karol bagh and WEA, and later in South Delhi.

Fallout of Partition of Bengal in 1947

In 1954, an association was formed for the refugees from the then East Bengal who were displaced from their homes during the Partition of India and the associated Partition of Bengal (1947). A large group of government officers hailing from the erstwhile East Pakisthan migrated to Delhi and lobbied for a residential colony. Leading roles were taken by Chandra Kumar Mukherjee, Subodh Gopal Basumallik, Bimal Bhusan Chakraborty, and the then Chief Election Commissioner, Shyamaprasanna Senverma. In the 1967, 218 acre land was assigned in a barren rocky area now known as Chittaranjan Park. Applicants were required to provide some documentation of their refugee status, and were required to be “already residing and gainfully employed in the capital”; based on this, 2147 people were given plots of land, initially on lease for 99 years, but subsequently converted into a freehold ownership. The EPDP (‘East Pakisthan Displaced Persons’ Association) registered in 1960 had key role in handling allotment and welfare of the habitation. It continues to be the Apex RWA in CR Park today.

The original layout had the two-thousand odd plots, divided into eleven blocks A-K, along with a number of markets and cultural spaces. However, in the 1990s, 714 displaced families were accommodated among those who had not been able to meet the earlier deadline. This resulted in new blocks, called M, N, O, K-1, K-2, Pocket 40 (referred to as Navapalli), Pocket 52 (referred to as Dakhinpalli ) and Pocket-K. The main thoroughfare of the colony is Bipin Chandra Pal Marg. Notable Institutions which grew up over the years are- a branch of the Raisina Bengali School, Kali Mandir (also called the Shiv Mandir), Bangiya Samaj, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Memorial, Bipin Chandra Pal Memorial Trust, Purbashree Mahila Samity,Aparajita Mahila samity, Shri Shri lokenath Ashram.

The colony was founded with plots going exclusively to migrants from East Bengal; but over time, the demographics has become a little more pan-Indian, though it continues to attract other Bengalis in general. Most of the residents are eminent ex-government servants, scholars, professors, teachers and other professionals With an estimated 2000 Bengali families , it has emerged as ‘mini Kolkata ‘ in the capital. The explosive growth of South Delhi property prices and the aging of the original land allottees is resulting in an ongoing demographic diversification.

Down the Timeline…

  • 21 January,1973:
    resolution to build a temple was taken in a meeting of resident at I-1614
  • 25 February:
    public notice inviting plot holders to assemble on 4th March was published in Statesman and Indian Express.
  • 4 March,1973:
    Allottees of plots met at the zonal park opposite to plot 1647. A steering committee was formed. “Chittaranjan Park Kali mandir Society” was born.