West Bengal

Kolkata Chronicle

In August 2009 I visited Kolkata along with my parents. Our schedule was just full of meeting friends and relatives. We had just one day to do sightseeing around Kolkata. So here is an account of my trip.

Day 1 – 13th Aug 2009:- Mumbai Howrah Mail reaches Howrah at 5.50 am as per Indian Railways. But the moment it entered Howrah’s  nearby region, there was no line clearance and the train started moving at snail’s pace. We reached at 8.30 am!!

:evil: Then there was the long queue at the prepaid taxi booth. (If you don’t go by prepaid, the taxi drivers will fleece you).

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That is a view of the red building of Howrah Station and The Howrah Bridge

Day 2 and 3 were spent with relatives doing nothing fruitful. 🙂

# Day 4, 16th August 2009 :- At last Dad took me sightseeing around Kolkata..but due to rains we couldn’t stick to our time schedule. First we went to Science City.

Science City, the largest science centre in the sub-continent, under the National Council of Science Museums consists of two facilities, the Science Centre and the Convention Centre. The Science Centre complex comprises Space Odyssey, Dynamotion, Evolution Theme Park, Maritime Centre and a Science Park. The Space Odyssey houses India’s first Large Format Film Theatre, Time Machine, 3-D Vision Theatre, Mirror Magic and exhibits on space science, motion, electricity and virtual reality. The Dynamotion Hall has a Butterfly Corner, Aquaria, an exposition on giant robotic insects and host of interactive exhibits on science & technology for both education and entertainment of the visitors.

It was an awesome place for people interested in science. There was a small scientific show on dry ice where I got applauded for my correct answers. :D The Time Machine was cool too but my mom got very scared. A 70 mm documentary called “The Living Sea” was telecasted in the Space Theatre. It was simply awesome!! Though photography was prohibited people were taking pictures inside the theatre. I decided not to in the best interests of my camera. In the collage below you can see the science city building, mom walking on the musical piano, the “see your voice” equipment and “The Powers of Ten”.

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Due to rain, we were unable to visit rest of science city and take more snaps. :( Then we went to visit one of my Dad’s friends in South Kolkata and had lunch there. I was able to take a snap of the famous “Tram”. Kolkata is the only city in India to have a tram network. Kolkata tram is the oldest operating electric tram of Asia, running since 1902. Trams are under the administration of the Calcutta Tramways Company, popularly called CTC.

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From there we went to the Millennium Park located along the Strand Road. The most wonderful thing about this park is that its on the bank of river Hooghly. A nice place to sit and relax. But there are some bad areas of the park where one can see the pollution of the river. One can see both the Vidyasagar Setu and the Howrah Bridge from the park. Check out my photoblog for more photos of the park and its activities.

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It was already dusk by the time we reached the famous Victoria Memorial. So all the snaps did not come out that well as my camera is not suited for night photography.

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Dead tired after roaming about all day, we came back home.

# Day 5, 17th August 2009 :- Afternoon was spent in packing and we left for station by 6 pm, 2 hours before the train’s departure time. Kolkata traffic and roads are unpredictable!!

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Categories: Cities, West Bengal | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Digha Chronicle Part 2

Continued from here.

After lunch and a little afternoon shut-eye, we decided to go sightseeing around Digha. Our first destination was the Science Center established by the National Council of Science Museums at New Digha. The Centre offers a variety of mechanisms to make science an enjoyable learning experience. There is a biology section with few animals, a physics section, a planetarium which holds evening shows and a park. Had fun time exploring all the mechanisms.

As we had other places to see we did not stay to watch a show at the planetarium. From there we went to the Udaypur beach. One should bargain hard with the rickshaw pullers there as they over charge tourists. Rickshaw pullers don’t take passengers right to the beach. One has to walk a bit to get to the beach.

At Udaypur beach bikes are available for rent to go roaming around the beach and to Talsari beach at low tide. It had got dark by the time we left the beach to go to Old Digha. Old Digha is a bustling part of the town. It would be cheaper to stay at the hotels there but there would be no peace. There is a much bigger and cheaper market at Old Digha. Also ATMs are located at Old Digha only. We made our way to the beach. As expected it was very crowded, especially because the tide was high and only few people had ventured into the water. Spent the rest of the evening sitting on the stone tables there, sipping hot tea and chatting. Then we went back to New Digha. Did some window shopping, had dinner at the hotel restaurant and retired to our rooms.

11th Dec 2010: We were due to checkout in the afternoon. So all of us went souvenir shopping at the market after breakfast at an outlet at the market. Do not try Aaloo Paratha at Digha!!  Curios made of sea-shell, shell jewellery, moderate varieties of reputed Madur of Midnapore (hand-woven mat made of weeds) in colourful designs, cottage crafts of Digha and Midnapur are available. Rates are not that high and good bargaining skills can get you lesser rates.

This is the best curio shop of the market at New Digha


After lots of shopping, we returned to our hotel for lunch. Checked out from our rooms, kept the luggage at the hotel lobby and had lunch. Post lunch, all of us went to the beach for one last time. It was so wonderful to see the shimmering waters of the Bay of Bengal.

After spending some time on the beach and drinking coconut water, we came back to our hotel. Picked up our luggage and left for the station. Hope to visit Digha again with more time on my hands and to visit places like Shankarpur, Mandarmoni, Junput etc too.

Previous parts:

Part 1

Categories: Beaches, West Bengal | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digha Chronicle Part 1

As mentioned in my earlier post, we went on a 3 day trip to Digha beach. Digha is the most popular sea beach and tourist spot in West Bengal. It is known as “Brighton of the East”.

9th Dec 2010: It had got dark by the time we reached Digha station; all because we had missed the first train, took the next train to Digha and got delayed by three hours. Digha station looked quite new and clean. I guess to promote tourism, WBTDC has spruced up the place. Also there are 4-5 trains from Kolkata to Digha!

Nice carriage like rickshaws are available outside; something which I haven’t seen anywhere in Kolkata. Digha is divided into two areas – Old Digha and New Digha. We decided to stay at New Digha. There are many hotels,lodges and restaurants in Digha. We stayed at Hotel Sea Bird. Rates in Digha vary seasonally. Hotel Sea Bird is a good hotel located near the beach, with okay rates and an in-house restaurant on the ground floor with good service and tasty food.

After freshening up, all of us went for a stroll on the beach. The beaches of Digha are flat and wide. The sea looked ominous in the dark. The tide gets high at night so there are stone embankments to prevent the water from flooding the town. Due to high tide and chances of theft, it is advisable to not go to beach side after 9-9.30 pm. New Digha has a lively market which we planned to explore the next day as most of the shops had closed down by that time. We came back to our hotel, had tasty dinner and retired to our rooms.

10th Dec 2010: Woke up to overcast skies and lovely cool weather. Had breakfast and went out to beach with our cameras. Had fun roaming and photographing around the beach and the sea.


One strange thing about Digha is, unlike any coastal area, the vegetation doesn’t consist of coconut trees. There are sort of pine trees along the beach! There are hardly any coconut trees in the area!

Beaches of Digha are interconnected and if you can walk, you can explore from Old Digha to Talsari Beach on foot. But we just explored till the end of New Digha Beach. (Screenshot from wikimapia)

Due to weekend, the beach was crowded as lots of people had come over from Kolkata. There were pony and horse rides available. Also there were several green coconuts i.e. daab stalls on the beach with long benches for people to sit. The daabs were very tasty!!

Roamed around till late afternoon. Was feeling ravenous by then. Headed for the hotel restaurant for lunch. At Digha, there are several cheap eateries too which serve good quality Bengali food and all sorts of fish delicacies. It is difficult to find a pure veg restaurant at Digha. I don’t remember seeing any. After lunch we retired to our rooms.

To Be Continued.

 

Categories: Beaches, West Bengal | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dakshineswar – Aadyapeeth – Belur Math Chronicle

I and Hubby had gone to Kolkata in December 2010. During our stay there, we went on two trips – a one day trip in Kolkata only and a 3 day trip to Digha beach which is the most popular weekend destination for Calcuttans.

The one day trip in Kolkata was to Dakshineswar – Aadyapeeth – Belur Math; some of the holy places of West Bengal. we (In laws and us) left for Dakshineswar in the hired car in early morning. It is advisable to reach there as early as possible otherwise the queue just keeps getting longer and the “darshan” time shorter. Dakshineswar is famous for its Kali temple built on the bank of river Hooghly by Rani Rashmoni in 1855.

The temple compound, apart from the nine-spired main temple, has a large courtyard surrounding the temple, with rooms along the boundary walls. There are twelve shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva along the riverfront, a temple to Radha-Krishna, a bathing ghat on the river, a shrine dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. The chamber in the northwestern corner just beyond the last of the Shiva temples, is where Sri Ramakrishna spent a considerable part of his life.

There are shops selling garlands and other offerings for worship. Also there are shops selling various souvenirs and a paid place to keep shoes. We gave offerings of sweets,flowers, 5 types of fruits and a pair of “pola” along with sindoor.

From there we went to Adyapeeth which is near Dakshineswar.

Adyapeeth was founded by Sri Anand Thakur in 1915 after he had an unusual dream. Devoted to Adya Maa ( a form of Maa Kali) the statue of the deity was chipped out of a black stone.

One can not see the diety directly. There is a separate big hall right in front of the doors of the main temple and people can sit there to watch the “aarti”. But the problem with that place is the timing. The doors are open just for an hour or so during the day which is quite frustrating. (This whole concept of closing of temple doors and the gods/goddesses having sleeping/resting time etc is quite aggravating but I will save that for some other time some other post)

Then we went to Belur Math. One can go to Belur Math via ferry across the river Hooghly from Dakshineswar Ghat. It takes only 20-30 mins that way. Since we were in car we had to go via Nivedita Setu.

We managed to reach Belur Math in time before it closed for the afternoon. The cleanliness and the serenity of the place was wonderful. One can sit on the grounds adjoining the bank of river Hooghly and enjoy the breeze while watching boats go by. There is a museum too in the premises containing articles and artifacts connected to Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

Belūr Maṭh is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. It is one of the significant institutions in Calcutta. The temple is notable for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs as a symbol of unity of all religions. A full size statue of Sri Ramakrishna is seated on a hundred petalled lotus over a “damaru” shaped marble pedestal wherein the sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna are preserved.

After spending some time relaxing at Belur Math, we ended our “Holy Day” trip and headed to few relatives’ places on our way back home. One more very important holy place of Kolkata is the Kalighat Temple. But that is like on one end (south) and all these places on other (north) of Kolkata. So maybe next time!!!

Categories: Cities, Religious, West Bengal | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
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