Part1: Calcutta Diaries…
Calcutta(now known as Kolkata)-the City of Joy is a fabulous city to live in, love at first sight you see. I was there for a mere 4 days which was not at all enough to see the uniqueness and intricacies of walking in the city with a perfect mixture of modern and heritage buildings,reminiscing about the yesteryear India. But I tried my very best to visit most of the places in my spare time and this blog post is entirely based on my experiences with the city and not influenced by anything else.
Calcutta has always fascinated me since I was a kid because of its rich history(served as the capital of India under the British Raj),sporting culture(Bengalis love their football and cricket),art forms whether its literature or cinema(Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray are in itself an institution) and above all Bengali sweet(Anyone here who don’t like RossoGulla?? Handful isn’t it?). I wanted to visit Calcutta at some point of time and having couple of Bengali friends did help my cause.One of my close friends decided to marry and thus I planned to visit the city and above all know more about Bengali culture especially their unique style of marriage which is quite different from marriages seen in Southern India.
Before we get the ball rolling with our city tour,let’s start our day with a cup of tea and a newspaper.
Our first pit stop would be a visit to Dakshineswar temple in Barrackpore.
Dakshineswar is a Kali temple built between 1847 and 1855 by Rani Rashmoni. Along with the Kali temple, we have 12 Shiva temples(lingas) and a RadhaKrishna temple situated along the Vivekananda Setu(Bridge) on the East bank of Hooghly River.The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning, ‘She who liberates Her devotees from the ocean of existence’.
Ramakrishna Paramahasamha, the saint of 19th century, regarded as incarnation of God, set his base here in Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna formed a group of spiritual aspirants which later paved the way for the formation of Ramakrishna Mission. Interestingly,before this temple was built, Nawabs of Chitpur used to hunt tigers in Dakshineswar.
Now that we have seen the beautiful Dakshineswar, let’s head to Belur Math on the other side i.e. west banks of Hooghly river. It is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission founded by his disciple Swami Vivekananda. This site was carefully chosen by Vivekananda on the banks of holy Ganges(Hooghly) such that a clear view of Dakshineswar and Cossipore- the two important places related to Sri Ramakrishna could be seen which add to its sanctity.
Belur Math is known for its splendid architecture and devotees want to develop inner appreciation of thought through this unique and beautiful architecture. On the day of my visit, it was 180th birthday celebration of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahasamha and visitors, devotees,media were sprawling from all corners of the world.
Self note:Visit this place when there is less crowd and more peace.
It seems like I am hungry now, so let’s have an early meal. And here in Calcutta, no meals is complete without fish. So let’s try the Bhetki fish from a Bengali food chain.
Now lets stroll to St. Paul’s Cathedral-The Mother Church of the diocese of Calcutta in the church of North India.Let’s gulp some RossoGollas as we get there and a bakery of N C Das- Creator of the iconic Bengali sweetmeat is the place to be. The RossoGolla(highly nutritious,easily digestible and truly a drooling affair) was born in 1868 in a moment of sublime inspiration.
Self note: Get some stock of this sweet rhapsody before leaving to Bengaluru.
As we enter the church and get to admire this magnificent architecture with all its past glory we have come to an end of this journey for today.Excited and curious as ever to visit Kumortuli-potters’ colony in North Calcutta where they create artistic clay idols especially for Durga Pujo, Eden Garden’s Mecca of Cricket in India,Jorasanko Thakur Bari-Ancestral home of Tagore family, ever so magnificent Victoria Memorial,Calcutta’s very own tram and metro ride,Prinsep Ghat-one of the oldest recreational spots of Calcutta.
It has been a great time in Calcutta so far. Hope you enjoyed it too.
Lets meet again soon. Until then, Keep Smiling 🙂
P.S: Day started with darshan of Goddess Kali in Dakshineswar followed by Belur Math on the other side of Ganges. Bought some books on Swami Vivekananda and a book on architecture of Belur Math. Then a sumptuous lunch in Bedouin-Sher-E-Bengal in Gariahat.Some saree(Dhakai Jaamdani-traditional Bengali saari) shopping for mom and then a visit to St Paul’s Cathedral, Academy of Fine Arts and Nandan-West Bengal Film Centre.
Looking forward for more….
P.P.S: Here in this post, Calcutta(old name of the city) is used instead of Kolkata as someone rightly said “Kolkata is a city whereas Calcutta is a emotion”.