Year end travel of 2016 was combined with personal work. I was also thrilled about this travel as I was traveling to the eastern part of India during winters after many years. I remembered about the december days and wished to experience them. We started our journey on the 3rd week of December 2016. I had already booked the tickets on Yeshwantpur – Howrah AC express and avoided the dynamic pricing which was introduced. This train seems to be same as Duronto with similar colour and departs from Yeshwantpur at the same time at 11.15 AM. However, when I booked the ticket Duronto was not written. It takes 29 hours to complete the journey to Howrah if on right time. Arrival time at Howrah railway station is 4.15 PM. However, the train reached the platform at 4.30 PM. This train typically comes on the new section of Howrah station. From the platform hired a porter for Rs 100 who helped us reach the parking lot for private vehicles like Ola. Traveling from Howrah station we first saw the majestic Howrah bridge. Evening hours are normally pick hours and in older parts of Kolkata it is heavy traffic jam time. On the way also saw the flyover whose portion came down in the month of April 2016. The flyover is incomplete and work is suspended now. Driving under that flyover was little anxious. To reach our destination Rajarhat, it almost took about an hour. While traveling in the Ola cab, I noticed little change. Heritage light lamps has been installed on most roads and the lamp stand is decorated with blue & white led lights. On a flyover the railings were also decorated with blue & white led lights. From VIP road onwards the decorations increased 3 fold. Important junctions had been decorated with lights and santa dolls. It was a beautiful sight to view. The city of joy was on a festive mood. At around 7.30 PM we reached Rajarhat.
Next day morning we had went for some shopping to Priya Gopal Bishoyi at MG road. This is one of the best shop to buy sarees in Kolkata. Returned home in the afternoon and an authentic Bengali lunch was waiting. It was a feast in terms of food and sweets. Lunch and dinner consisted of fishes like prawn, Parshe, Bhetki, Tangra, biryani and a chilly chicken specially cooked by my uncle. In the evening went to City Center mall 2 at Rajarhat. There I purchased an ethnic canvas shoe at Khadims store. They have some good collection of formal and ethnic stuffs. Looks like they sell online as well now. Following this it was some munching time. Along with uncle, we headed to KFC. I advised uncle to have Nashville chicken and I went for Zinger burger with extra cheese. This time it was not that cold in Kolkata but do calls for a blanket for sleeping.
Next day it was about my search for Bandhgala. In the afternoon after lunch we headed to Gariahat. I used Ola cabs for most of our travels in Kolkata. I looked for Bandhgala there at Manyavar, Shahenshah, Adi Punjabi, Prapti etc but could not find the design I was looking for. At Prapti I liked a jute wash coat. After trying it looked little loose and the the shops offered to alter it. As I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day, I left the wash coat with the shop and they said they will send the product after alteration to their shop at City Center 2. Also, we looked for saree there at Gauranga Bastralaya, Kalamandir Saree Emporium, Dhakeshwari Bastralaya etc but could not choose one. From there we went to Lindsey street store of Manyavar. It is said to be their biggest store in Kolkata. But due to pipe designs alternations are not possible which was a deal breaker. It was a day before Christmas and there were huge crowd in Dharmatala / New Market area. We moved further and went to a Raymond store opposite New Market. First I checked out the ready made section but not to my likings. Finally thought of stitching one and wanted to gather more info. In decided to remain in the range of Rs 15k to 20k. I liked one material with some texture. I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day and for Bangalore on 28th morning so delivery was a concern. The salesman assured that he will take the measurement now and he will keep it ready. When I come back to Kolkata on 27th December, he will give me a trail and if required he will do the alterations on that day within a couple of hours. But poundered on little bit and decided not to pursue it as it looked to close. While coming back we took a tour inside New Market. My Uncle said earlier it was the largest market in Asia and there is hardly anything one cannot find here. He shown one cake shop offers various kind of cakes and some unique cakes. People stand in queue or book days in advance to buy from this shop. Outside also saw the oldest unit of Aminia.
Next day we booked a Scorpio for Rs 3000 and headed for Nabadwip after lunch. It was an amazing journey through rural and the paddy fields of Bengal. Four laning work on the road which I saw two years ago still shows no sign of completion. Overtaking on this two way road at times looks scary. After going to my maternal uncle’s house one of the first thing I did was going to shop in Hari Sabha para and buy Samosa, Gujia and sweet gur fry. Sweets of Nabadwip for very tasty and economical. We had lot of tasks to oversee and needed to be accomplished within our short duration of stay. Another thing which I absolutely love in nabadwip is the Red curd. This days it can be found from a store near Boral ghat. I bought around 2 kg for Rs 250. My mom wanted to take bath in river Ganga, so visited the ghat with her. It is always a pleasure to visit the ghat. While leaving Nabadwip we decided to take the local train. We planned to board the 3.30 PM Katwa – Howrah local. After we reached the Nabadwip dham station, we found it was packed with people. As per the ticket, the journey had to commence within 1 hour. I was expecting huge rush in the train and was thinking a hired vehicle would have been better. After boarding the train it was crowded for sometime but started to lighten up after few station. Around an hour later, we get seats. Then onwards it was fine. Ticket cost for two on local train is Rs 50 and a hired vehicle will be around Rs 2000. See the savings! On the local I heard songs being played. First I heard it is being played from a station. But I could still hear it when the train was moving. Then I realised that it was being played from the train itself and that it is a new service of the Indian Railways called Rail Radio.
After reaching Howrah station went to the pre-paid taxi counter but it had a long queue. So decided to book an Ola cab. I have noticed that Ola charges little higher than pre-paid taxis. On 27th evening I wanted to watch Dangal at Inox, City Center 2. But it was kind of late by the time we reached Rajarhat, so we decided to skip it that evening. That night my uncle had prepared chilly chicken which was so nicely prepared and garnished that I had asked why did you purchased it. Awesome taste! Next day morning we had our train Duronto scheduled to leave from Howrah station new section at 10.55 AM. In the morning we left home at 9 AM on a Ola cab and luckily reached Howrah station within 45 minutes. It was time to say Good bye Kolkata, see you again. On reaching Banglore, we alighted at KR puram railway station. Normally Duronto do not give stoppage at KR Puram station, it could have been a signal issue. Now Hello Bangalore! It always feels awesome to be back in Bangalore.
While traveling on a trip from Bangalore to Kolkata, it came to my mind – how about capturing the immediate areas preceding the Howrah railway station. Entering Kolkata on a train tries to show the life of people and scenes besides the rail tracks leading to Howrah railway station. The video was shot from the window of AC 3 tier.
Mayapur is located at the confluence of river Ganga (Hoogly locally known as Ganga) and Jalangi near Nabadwip in Indian state of West Bengal. It is the headquarters of ISKCON temples. Also, it is said to be the birthplace of sri Chaitanya mahaprabhu. Though some people debate it. To reach there one typically comes to Nabadwip which is around 130 KM from Kolkata. Here they typically do Mahaprabhu darshan and visit temple at Poramatala. From Nabadwip the shortest route to reach Mayapur is by a boat ride. Buy a ticket at the ghat entrance and then board the next available boat. The boat typically leaves after passenger fills. On the other side you can either walk a distance of around 1 km or take a rickshaw to reach ISKCON temple.
7 AM to 12.30 PM
4 PM to 8 PM
There is no entry fee to the temple. A lot of people visit here. During weekend and festivals, the crowd flow is even more. A board in the temple complex says no entry to the temple with camera, mobile, laptop, i-pod and other electronics goods, luggage. There is also a dress code as the temple forbids anyone entering the temple wearing half pant, bermuda, shorts, night dress, three quarter, lungi, unsocial dress ( not sure what is their definition of antisocial dress). Any form of intoxication is not allowed.
On one side of the temple there is field where one can see monks chanting hymns. There are shops side by where one can buy local stuffs. If you walk further than you can go to cowshed and the paddy field side. The complex has also lodging option for visitors. There is a separate quarter for monks or residents of the temple. One can also have prasad by paying a nominal fees.
The main temple requires one to climb some steps. This leads to a big hall with view of Radha Madhav, Krishna, Radha, Lalita and Vaishakhi. There is also idols of Pancha Tattva. There is also idol of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu ( an incarnation of Lord Krishna). Typically during everyday evening, dance and song procession Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is taken out in the temple complex.
Poramatala is one of the sacred religious center in Nabadwip. Hundreds of devotees offer prayer here. And on special occasions the number swells into thousands. This place is unlike any typical temples. A huge banyan tree covers this place like an umbrella. The idol of goddess Porama is located in the cavity of the banyan tree. It is said there is also a tunnel beneath the tree. There are other two temples of godddes Bhabotarini and lord Shiva. It looks like the roots of the banyan tree is holding the temple of goddess Bhabotarini and lord Shiva.
On the left hand side of ma Porama mandir, is the temple of Goddess Bhabotarini, an avatar of goddess Kali. The idol of goddess Bhabotarini is so beautiful though angry faced. For her even fish is offered. For her, prayer is offered only once a day.
On the right hand side is the temple of lord Shiva. The shiva linga here is one of the largest I have seen. The structure of the temple is typical Bishnupur (Bengal) style.
The temples are said to be very old one. One story goes that, once the banyan tree caught fire and ma Porama shown dream to one local priest that she is living in the tree and to arrange for prayer there. This place teems with activity from early morning till evening. Flower vendors, prasad (sweets etc) sellers, god’s cloth sellers, imitation ornament sellers all have shops here. The place around Poramatala is also the commercial center of Nabadwip.
I have been lucky to visit this place few times. But this time, I tried to notice this place closely. I would like to share an interesting incident which happened an early morning. I was there at 4.30 am. Around 5 am, the the pujari (monk) of the temple who is supposed to open the temple started cleaning the temple. One huge black Ox and a white color spotted cow entered the premises of the temple and headed to one of side of Ma Porama mandir where some hay and flower remained. Here in the hay remained slept 3 dogs who found warmth in the winter night of February. A while later I noticed that after cleaning the temple, the Pujari and people started throwing the used flowers there. So the Ox and the Cow knew about the time and what is up for grab. Looks like they are regular visitors here.
At very few places I have heard people calling god or goddess from the bottom of their heart. One can heard calls like Ma tomar joy hok – sab samay hok (Mother win shall be yours – all time yours). People call her mother like their own mother!
The marble palace is a beautiful white building located little away from the Jorasanko Thakur Bari. Built in 1853 by landlord Raja Rajendra Mullick still remains a private property and is used by his decedents.
46, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata 700007
Off Rabindra Sarani
Timings: 10 am to 4 pm
Monday and Thrusday Holiday Note: Permission need to be taken from West Bengal tourism department 24 hrs in advance
By the time we reached there it was almost dusk. The guard at the gate told you can cannot enter now. However, he gave some valuable insight into this place. He told the Marble palace zoo is the first zoo built in Kolkata and it was latter shifted to Alipore zoo. However, still large species of birds are here. As a private property photography is prohibited here. So I took two pictures from outside. Though I could not see it from inside, it looked to me an interesting place. It is said to house some famous art works.
City Center, Salk Lake is a shopping mall in Kolkata owned by Ambuja Realty. They also have another mall in New Town (Rajarhat). It was the first modern integrated shopping experience in Kolkata.
During my recent visit to Kolkata it was my evening hub. For my work I was staying in Salt Lake and my hotel (Ayash) was little more than 100 meters away. So most evening my mom and I used to go there. For an upscale township like Salt lake, it is strategically located. The hub is mostly thronged by young people with a good mix of shopping options, eateries and a multiplex (Inox). It also has an amphitheater for mini concerts and cultural functions. Lucky to see singer Anupam Roy performing. He was performing as part of Zee Bangla (TV Channel) love nite. He has some nice Bengali numbers and popular hits. By the way, Anupam has a Bangalore connection. He used to earlier work at Texas Instruments, Bangalore.
Kolkata is a shopper’s paradise. Even in malls, you will be able to find stuffs at better price than Bangalore. I know, I know, Bangalore is probably the costliest city in India and we should not be bragging about prices in Bangalore verses Kolkata. We bought few shoes and chappals for mom and myself at the Khadims. Roaming around the mall was good time pass. Found Momo center at one corner of the mall but it was nowhere near the tasty momos offered at Green Onion, Bangalore. Tried some ice cream at Kwality Walls. For dinner there were many options but decided to go for KFC.
Kolkata is photogenic in possibly every angle. And here too I got attracted to click around. Pleased to get some nice shots! Way back to the hotel was like nice night stroll.