The tradition is one of iconic crossings across the river Hooghly in the stretch of the river falling within the enlarged Kolkata metro area – Vivekananda Bridge (Bally Bridge), Rabindar Setu, (Howrah Bridge) and Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge). While the mighty river forms the backdrop of the development of the region over centuries, it had also posed a challenge as regards connection to the rest of the country. It is this challenge that the continuing tradition addresses, and addresses a new with a state-of-the art, recently opened and the newly christened Nivedita Bridge.
Although any point along the Ganga can serve as a pilgrimage site, a number of especially powerful thirthas (sacred crossings) along her banks allow pilgrims to cover multiple spiritual bases with a single visit. Banaras is the largest and most visited of these thirthas, presenting itself as Kashi (“the luminous”), an otherworldly abode that rests Shiva’s trident and grants instant liberation to all who die within its boundaries.