Set very attractively amid palms and manicured lawns, this large religious centre is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, inspired by 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who preached the unity of all religions. Its centrepiece is the 1938 Ramakrishna Mandir which somehow manages to look like a cathedral, Indian palace and Istanbul’s Aya Sofya all at the same time. Several smaller shrines near the Hooghly riverbank include the Sri Sarada Devi Temple , entombing the guru’s wife.
Accessed from the car park, the beautifully presented dual-level museum charts Ramakrishna’s life and the travels of his great disciple Swami Vivekananda, with mock-ups of buildings in which the latter stayed from Rajasthan to New York.
From the main road outside Belur Math, minibus 11 and bus 54 run to Esplanade, bus 56 to Howrah. The stop-start traffic is miserable. Six daily suburban trains run from Belur Math to Howrah (₹4, 25 minutes)