Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Kolkata The City Of Joy


Kolkata, this legendary city known for its history,  monuments, trams, food and of course the land that gave some iconic personalities to the Nation- Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, Saurav Ganguly and many more.


A trip to Kolkata is not complete with out a visit to Victoria memorial hall and museum. Maybe that's why destiny planned a perfect trip as we were unable to visit this monument the last time due to the fact that it was under renovation. This grand monument dedicated to Queen Victoria houses an excellent museum that has a lot of interesting exhibits ranging from exquisite chair and tea-poy made of ivory, extensive collection of guns and swords studded with precious stones and gold, beautifully preserved age old Buddhist manuscripts written in gold, excellent marble sculptures of the British elite and the very first and grand piano on which Queen Victoria learned how to play.



The show stopper are the 12 paintings surrounding the massive central dome depicting important evens from Victoria's life. The best part about the oil paintings are they are naturally lit by day light. Even after several years these paintings are in excellent condition. A very talented artist had gone great lengths to give life to these paintings. We stood there with our jaws dropped admiring the colossal dome and paintings. The beautifully trimmed green lawns around the monument are too inviting and we sat there for hours admiring this beautiful white marble monument. The reflection of the monument in the water body and the sun setting behind was a moment to behold. Gallery is open on all days from 10 AM to 5 PM except on Monday and national holidays.


Of course, the iconic Howrah Bridge can not be left far behind. This bridge over the Hooghly River is one of the busiest bridges. And we rode our bike too over the iconic Howrah bridge.

Visiting the Indian Museum by shelling out as little as Rs.10 will get you a sight of a 4000 year old Mummy. The other huge galleries too are worth a visit. The museum is pretty well maintained.



We headed to pay our respect to Mother Teresa's home that houses her tomb. Right next to the tomb is a small museum showcasing books and articles that belonged to Mother. One can even visit the humble room that Mother used to live in. It did not even have a ceiling fan just a small table fan.


Kolkata could be famous for Eden gardens, Victoria memorial, Howrah bridge and many more but it was AJC Bose Botanical garden that earned Kolkata a spot in the Guinness Book Of World Records. All thanks to a hulk size Banyan tree that spreads across an area of 1.6 hectare. The tallest branch reaches 24 meters and has over 3600 prop roots (confirm from pics.) This one massive tree qualifies to be a jungle all by itself. The tree survived two massive cyclones and even though the main trunk of the tree was felled in 1925 it still survives. Thus earning the name "Walking Tree" and ____ (PIC.)


It is more than 250 year old tree and was in existence even before the establishment of the park. We had to walk over 100 meters to catch a glimpse of the panoramic view of this mammoth tree. The serene park is also home to exotic plants from over 5 continents. The botanical garden has wetlands that attracts a lot of birds and is surprising that  right in the middle of this chaotic city lies a haven for birds. We were lucky enough to witness a dogfight between an eagle and crow. Keep in mind that the entry to the park closes at 4 PM.



Kolkata has a very able local transportation network. We took the iconic taxi ride, these guys literally paint the city yellow. Also, we hopped on to the iconic tram. It is the only operating Tram Network in India and the oldest electric operating tram in Asia.



However, major parts of the city still seem to be stuck in the British Raj era and have not seen any phenomenal cosmetic change. In our experience, the city is not very traveler friendly as there are no signage and people do not seem to be helpful in our limited experience.


A book lovers delight at park street would be oxford book store. They have massive collection of books across all genres and a few in foreign languages too. Plus an exclusive section dedicated to Bengali literature. There is also a pretty decent cafe on the first floor of the book store.