Friday, April 12, 2013

Oh Calcutta!

Calcutta through my lens - Photo Blog!

We landed at Calcutta airport on a transit flight to Bagdogra.  With a good 3 hours to kill, my cousins and I walked in and around the airport photographing the delightfully cute yellow taxis (as opposed to yellow top taxis in Mumbai!), enjoying a cup of coffee at the nearby CCD and chasing squirrels!

Thereafter, we stayed in Calcutta for two nights while returning to Mumbai from Sikkim.  While we were still recovering from Sikkim hangover, we got to know the City of Joy a little better.

We were staying in Hastings in Calcutta.  Fortunately for us, the place was on the banks of River Hoogly and a 15-minute drive from the famed Howrah suspension bridge and/ or Vivekanana setu (new bridge).  We began our day tour on a hazy Calcutta morning which did got in the way of our photography.  However, we did manage to spend a good half hour at the ghat photographing Vivekananda Setu from where we could see the faint outline of Howrah Bridge at a distance.

Our day tours also included driving around Fort William, where we spent a good 1 hour at the Eastern Command Military museum, Dalhousie square (Writer’s building, High Court, GPO) and a two-hour or more halt at Victoria Memorial which is a must see (it is a picnic spot for families, an adobe for couples and visited by many tourist not only for the architecture but also for the museum it hosts).   All the architectural sights in Calcutta were well maintained and the locals take pride in sharing insights about them.  

But what stood out about Calcutta was the predominant blue colour everywhere (lampposts, fences, etc) -  thanks to Mamata Banerjee’s decision to paint the city sky blue in line with the motto of the government ie 'the sky is the limit'!  I do hope she would spare the yellow taxis!

Apart from sightseeing, we also shopped for Kantha sarees at Gariahat (Adi Dhakeshwari), leather products at New Market (Shree leathers), ate street food (pani puri, moodi, rolls, kulfi and loads of Bengali sweets) at several places, enjoyed some baked delicacies at Flurry’s, Park Street (a bit over-rated) and ate a Bengali buffet at 6 Ballygung place.

Overall, Calcutta surprised me – the traffic was organized (most roads are one-ways, the roads were quite clean, I felt safe there and the people were warm and seemed to be content.  I admit I did not get an opportunity/ time to visit old Calcutta area - which may change some of my first impressions - but for now I’m basking in the joy that Calcutta gave me. 

Needless to say, I do hope I get to plan a dedicated visit to Calcutta sometime soon.

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