Fodor's Expert Review Belur Math Shrine
This is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, a reform movement inspired by the mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who died in 1886. Having forsaken his privileged Brahmin heritage, Ramakrishna preached the unity of religious faiths and an adherence to altruistic values for all people. His disciple, Swami Vivekananda, established the mission in 1898. The serene Belur Math Shrine, on the banks of the Hooghly, resembles a church, a temple, or a mosque, depending on where you're standing. Somber aarti (chants and hymns) are sung in the immense prayer hall every evening; visitors are more than welcome. Simple vegetarian meals, offered at the shrine, are then served to visitors who make a nominal donation.