It was during last summer when I had been to the east of India. It was an amazing experience, travelling places at a stretch with my relatives.
The first spot we covered up was ‘The City of Joy’, named after the novel by Dominique Lapierre. It’s Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal located on the east bank of Hooghly river.
The main attractions of the capital are the Victoria Memorial, Kalighat Kali Temple, Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Eden Gardens, Birla Planetarium, Birla mandir and the list goes on…
Oh yes, New Market and Gariahat makes you wonder ‘Such things really does exist?’ and are an ultimate shoppers’ stop. Quite different from the trendy malls but one can’t afford to miss these.
If you get a good vehicle along, it’s possible to take a quick view of the city but mind it, right from sunrise till midnight it takes. Too hectic, but worth it. Early morning we visited Dakshineshwar temple. The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, contains a large courtyard surrounding the temple, with rooms along the boundary walls. There are twelve shrines dedicated to Shiva—Kali’s companion—along the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. ‘Nahavat-Khana‘, the chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples, is where Ramakrishna spent a considerable part of his life.
The positive energy circulating in and around the Temple is passed on to us, binding us to the spiritual world. (nothing superstitious)
Our second visit was to Victoria Memorial. It is a large marble building which was built between 1906 and 1921. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and is now a museum and tourist destination under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. The Memorial lies on the Maidan (grounds) by the bank of the Hooghly river, near Jawaharlal Nehru road.
You get into the centre of the hall and stare up— that makes you stand jaw-dropped! Cheers to the architecture: the dome looks lovely! (I was quite like this) Then, grabbing a view of the photos put up there swallows up a lot of time, but a quick glance would work (or else it’d take a whole day).
Then the engine pulls off. Capturing Eden Gardens (biggest cricket stadium of India), Writers’ building (secretariat of West Bengal) which has an AMAZING view, all the beautiful old streets of Kolkata, the age-old trams, Howrah Bridge ( it’s almost every Indian’s dream to travel on this) in our hearts and cameras, we head towards the Kalighat temple. With all the happiness we enter the temple for more of happiness but returning with a pint of disappointment that it has turned into a business hub; we sigh and get on the cars again. Kalighat has goddess Kali, having long protruded tongue made of gold. This is a different appearance from the other visualizations of goddess Kali.
By this time, it was evening when we headed forward to shop. The busy narrow lanes, lit up by the dim yellow lights— Gariahat is a superb place. Purses emptied and bags filled with stuff – ‘from useful material to fascinating crappy tit-bits’. Still not satisfied, we sigh as usual and say “Out of time, remaining shopping in the next visit”. (practically no space in our car left). After that exhausting walk, we set off to a famous chai-wala(tea vendor) who offers strong and flavoursome tea in a very small earthen pot and samosas to eat. Our minds now stay refreshed, filled bellies (I didn’t have tea though, I hate it)
On the way back, a halt at Birla Mandir (temple) was a visual treat. The marble building, the architecture, the majestic and exotic chandeliers, artsy sculptures of deities Krishna and Radha mesmerized us.
We bundled up heaps of peace from there and left, to our place.
We covered up almost everything. A day full of excitement and happiness! True that it’s ‘City of Joy’.
To be continued…