Saturday, 23 July 2011

Kolkotta, cultural capital of India

I’m still on holiday... so another post on India!! *smiles* We went to Kolkota in July 2009 for a wedding and stayed there for all of four days… which clearly isn’t enough to explore the city. But here is a glimpse of what I saw… and what I thought. Calcutta as I like to call it… is a vibrant city on the move, volatile and unpredictable. The people warm, intelligent with great love for sport and the language extremely beautiful. The streets, structures & suburbs of Calcutta has clear imprints of the Victorian era. Even the Howrah bridge looks like a legend!!
I found it fascinating and a bit strange to see the rickshaws pulled by another person on his foot. But to the people there… it was obviously a way of life. I refused to sit on one of those… I’d rather walk and be lost!! The underground railway is definitely worth visiting, just to see how clean and orderly Calcutta can be!!! As the trains zoom past clean platforms, you feel far away from the chaos that reigns overhead. Shopping is a must. New Market (formerly known as Hogg Market), Gariahat, Dakshinapan, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, brassware shops along Kalighat Road, near the Kali temple, shops and auction houses on Park Street, Russel Street, Little Russel Street and Free School Street, and the Bengal Home Industries showroom to name a few. Oh and when in Calcutta, don’t forget to visit the College Street Book market where with a little patience, you can discover many books at minimal costs. When you are there stop by at the College St Coffee Shop, and sit down for people watching and coffee. Royal Botanic Garden has a huge collection of beautiful orchids, palm trees, bamboos, and about 1700 plant species. The main attraction of the botanical gardens is the giant size banyan tree that has a huge…. Really huge canopy. Victoria Memorial is more palatial than a memorial really!!! It echoes inside… The echoes I cannot describe. Many of India’s old rulers are represented here in stone. The Queen still lives here in stone & paint.
Calcutta, also famous as the "City of Joy" is well known for Mother Teresa and her charity works. Although she is no more, but helping the poor still continues in Calcutta’s heart. Other places to visit in Calcutta are St. Paul's Cathedral, the Second Hooghly Bridge casts a mystic spell over the city centre, the buildings of North Calcutta, the Marble Palace (the oldest zoo), The National Musuem preserve the heritage that the city has been flaunting for centuries, the Nakhoda Mosque (the largest mosque in Calcutta) and Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Tagore Family heritage).
What upset me the most about Calcutta was my visit to the Kali Mandir. I had heard so much about it, that the whole reason for planning on attending the wedding was because it was in Calcutta and I could go to this Mandir. But when I was there… it was a different story altogether. The street vendors did not stop hoarding you to leave your shoes in their stall. As though that was not enough, there were a few men following us to the temple… continuously telling us that our shoes will get stolen if not left in their stalls. I’m not normally this heartless, but to add to these men following me… there were a few beggars as well. They assumed that rubbing their dirty hands against tourists clean arm would in some way help them to get money. Well… I was not ready to give in. I kept yelling ‘No’, ‘Nahi’… but no one would listen. I braved it all the way to the temple… when I removed my flip-flops… one of the guys was ready to walk away with them. That was it… I took my flip-flops and walked straight back to my car. Sorry Kali Ma… probably some other time!! This incident hugely upset me!! The city of Calcutta is a city of baffling paradoxes, fascinating, bewitching & bewildering, a city that leaves its stamp on your mind forever!! It is well worth a visit!

12 comments:

  1. I envy you!!!! have never been to calcutta yet! shall be waiting to read about your trip

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  2. One of my favorite places, for I did my college there. Even in those days visiting Kali temple was big pain, I think I must have visited it once, and felt nothing great, probably because I am not a very temple kind of person especially the crowded ones. Enjoyed the trip with you. Have a great time in India.

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  3. U forgot to mention about the street food nd rasagulla nd mishti doi

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  4. When went there I was down with fever soi couldn't visit by places :( luved ur write up

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  5. Patty I am so glad that you did a post my city....KOLKATA.
    Even tho married I have set up my home in Delhi and eventually now in the USA , but a huge chunk of my heart is still and always will be in Kolkata.you have very nicely taken us to a tour of my city.even I have not visited so many places there!!:) kalighat is one I did not go yet..but there ar many more beautiful Kali temples in Kolkata...on the northern part....1)Dakkhineswar Kali Bari ,2) Belur mat.3)Addapith...these are places you should def touch on your next visit.very disciplined and organized.you will love it.I always try going to these places.hundreds of yrs old and calm and meditative....all by the shores of the Ganges.
    I too never like taking rickshaw pulled by human...one I feel sad secondly trust me very dangerous...my mom got tumbled off ..feet up in the air along with the R-puller.she is not even heavy:)after which poor soul never rides those rickshaws ever...
    Thanks a bunch for sharing...made me sooo nostalgic.I'll be visiting soon..plans are on for next month!!:)

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  6. Patty, enjoyed the tour of kolkata...enjoy ur trip...

    Hey, just a suggestion as u wanted to end a weekend wrapup(difficult to post on monday), I was thinking may be you can do some kind of open house/hang out house party where everybody decor,garden,diy, food blgs etc..can post and you can do this any day at week and we all would have place to look in to everyone's world.

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  7. Patty, hope you are having a great vacation:) Enjoyed that trip to Calcutta. I have never visited, so it was fun to take that visual journey, sounds absolutely fascinating...thank you:):)

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  8. Your post brought back memories of my short trip to the city of joy many years ago :)

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  9. Thanks a bunch for your lovely post on my city...Kolkata!
    Next time, please, try to visit Dakhhineshwar Kali Bari and Belur Math...which are much more organized,disciplined and beautiful...and you will LOVE it for sure:)

    S.

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  10. Hey you in Calcutta..I grew up there..spent my precious 14 yrs of life in the hustle bustle of this city...love my virtual tour with you!! THank you for posting..have a lovely trip!

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  11. Loved to read about KOLKATA as it is called now....I've done my college here....The National Library and the Planetarium,too are good....and yes,the variety of mishtis!The 'phuchkas' or golgappas,the rolls,all to die for!Recently I visited the city....It has changed a lot....but the spirit still remains the same!And I love that!

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