Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day 1: 15th March 2008

Today we left home at 4.45 am and reached blr airport. We had to arrange for a taxi at night itself.

It had rained heavily the night before inspite of this the morning was slightly warm. The airport security was slightly tightened due to the alerts nationwide. We were asked to show photo ids. I had my work id card so I cleared security check and moved in. We took the Kingfisher Deccan flight to Kolkata. During the entire flight we just flew over clouds.

Blr airport and city view

Morning sky and the cloud cover

Inflight Food catered by Cafe Coffee Day the breakfast combo of Sub sandwich, choco chip muffin, oat meal cookies and coffee.

I don't know over which cities/ towns we flew neither did the pilot announce. It was a 2hr flight and as we lowered down on Kolkata we could view the delta region. It is always exciting to see new topography. The bright sunny Kolkata at 9.00 am and the smell of the sea endeared this Mumbai girl immediately. This has been my experience even when I visit Chennai.

We took a prepaid taxi to Simi International Guesthouse that Mala (KDC) booked for us. It was located in Salt lake city. This suburb is cean airy and less crowded. On our way we passed through the dusty, old and worn out areas. Kolkata gave the impression of a very dust laden city but it was too early to judge. We reached Simi by 10 am. The staff was warm and pampered us thoroughly. We were the only ones on the second floor so besides our double bed room we got the entire lounging area and dinning area for ourselves we were lucky. Each floor had such central areas surrounded by 4 bedrooms. It felt like my Alibag home and I became comfortable instantly. We were welcomed with glasses of refreshing Nimbu pani and after bath we had tea and cream crackers.

Nityanand the hospitality guy enquired with us about our plans for the two days and what we'd like for our lunch. Pat went the reply, "Ofcourse Bengali !" He made Masurir dal, Mix veg Poshto, Phool gobi matar jhol, hot phulkas, rice and Rosgula! We had arrived in Kolkata.

At 2 pm our car arrived, for 5 hrs he would drive us around Kolkata. The first was a visit to Victoria Memorial. We parked the car at Birla Planetarium and walked to the Victoria Memorial main gate. Victoria Memorial is just opposite Birla Planetarium. It is a regal building a gift of the colonial era with landscaped gardens and a water body that is a perfect calming place in the heart of a hustling bustling city. Walking around the place watching victorias (horse drawn carriages) pass by and horses gallop with happy children on their back is a sight that reminds us of the simple life ages ago.

This picture is taken from the left side of Victoria Memorial

In the museum the most enticing portrait was of Swami Vivekananda minus his turban, yet those eyes embodied divinity. We saw Tatya Tope's preserved achkan and lock of hair and it reminded us of our friend Dr. Appa Athavale who is the current owner of Tatya Tope's Wada in Pune city and thought how lucky he was. Most of Indian history is archived here in some form or other. I would have probably appreciated history more had I visited her when still in school.

Taken from the first floor balcony of Victoria Memorial that overlooks the lawns.

The central water body , calm and peaceful inspite of the throngs of visitors.
After this we went to Kalighat. Our chauffeur advised us not to talk to the Pandyas standing outside the temple, ready to pounce on people aka bakras. He took us from the backside and introduced to one of the Pandyas of the temple. We bought some offering from him and followed him into the mayhem that the temple was in. The temple is filthy. The Darshan is divine as always. I managed to touch the feet of Kalimata and rushed out after just a little more than a glimpse.

Some souvenirs from Kalighat, stone plate, bowl and glass, they are called Pathuri. The Conch shell bangles, kumkum and Durga Mata made from Rice husk.

We drove around the city a bit and ten went to the Radha Krishna temple at Ballygung built by the Birla's. As expected it is a beautiful marble monument like all Birla temples.

We drove back to the guesthouse and went of to bed after dinner. Nityanand had made Malpuas for desert. These were quite different in taste and shape from the Malpua I know. They were thick like a vada and had fennel seeds in it. I think they were a bengali version.


Voyager said...

gr8 detailing. In case I plan a travel that side, I will make sure I read through this post of yours again to reconfirm on what places I should visit and what I should definetely taste :-)

Anjali said...

Voyager my actual spend sheet will also be available to u. U 3 shud plan soon.

Anonymous said...

They(Malpuas) do have fennel seeds but are not thick as vadas, they are the same thickness like yours and dunked in sugar syrup for some time and then taken out and served warm

I have never visisted Kalighat, wasn't it very crowded ? I like the Dakshineshwar Temple and make it a point to visit that every time I am in Kolkata

sandeepa(Bong Mom's Cookbook)

Anjali said...


Oh then I think Nityanand was experimenting on us while he practised the malpuas ;).

It was suffocating to be at Kalighat but you must visit atleast once.