I found it fascinating and a bit strange to see the rickshaws pulled by another person on his foot. But to the people there… it was obviously a way of life. I refused to sit on one of those… I’d rather walk and be lost!! The underground railway is definitely worth visiting, just to see how clean and orderly Calcutta can be!!! As the trains zoom past clean platforms, you feel far away from the chaos that reigns overhead. Shopping is a must. New Market (formerly known as Hogg Market), Gariahat, Dakshinapan, Central Cottage Industries Emporium, brassware shops along Kalighat Road, near the Kali temple, shops and auction houses on Park Street, Russel Street, Little Russel Street and Free School Street, and the Bengal Home Industries showroom to name a few. Oh and when in Calcutta, don’t forget to visit the College Street Book market where with a little patience, you can discover many books at minimal costs. When you are there stop by at the College St Coffee Shop, and sit down for people watching and coffee. Royal Botanic Garden has a huge collection of beautiful orchids, palm trees, bamboos, and about 1700 plant species. The main attraction of the botanical gardens is the giant size banyan tree that has a huge…. Really huge canopy. Victoria Memorial is more palatial than a memorial really!!! It echoes inside… The echoes I cannot describe. Many of India’s old rulers are represented here in stone. The Queen still lives here in stone & paint.
Calcutta, also famous as the "City of Joy" is well known for Mother Teresa and her charity works. Although she is no more, but helping the poor still continues in Calcutta’s heart. Other places to visit in Calcutta are St. Paul's Cathedral, the Second Hooghly Bridge casts a mystic spell over the city centre, the buildings of North Calcutta, the Marble Palace (the oldest zoo), The National Musuem preserve the heritage that the city has been flaunting for centuries, the Nakhoda Mosque (the largest mosque in Calcutta) and Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Tagore Family heritage).
What upset me the most about Calcutta was my visit to the Kali Mandir. I had heard so much about it, that the whole reason for planning on attending the wedding was because it was in Calcutta and I could go to this Mandir. But when I was there… it was a different story altogether. The street vendors did not stop hoarding you to leave your shoes in their stall. As though that was not enough, there were a few men following us to the temple… continuously telling us that our shoes will get stolen if not left in their stalls. I’m not normally this heartless, but to add to these men following me… there were a few beggars as well. They assumed that rubbing their dirty hands against tourists clean arm would in some way help them to get money. Well… I was not ready to give in. I kept yelling ‘No’, ‘Nahi’… but no one would listen. I braved it all the way to the temple… when I removed my flip-flops… one of the guys was ready to walk away with them. That was it… I took my flip-flops and walked straight back to my car. Sorry Kali Ma… probably some other time!! This incident hugely upset me!! The city of Calcutta is a city of baffling paradoxes, fascinating, bewitching & bewildering, a city that leaves its stamp on your mind forever!! It is well worth a visit!