Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 2: 16th March 2008

Thank you Sandeepa for including this post in RCI Bengal. Read about the event here.

The Dakhineshwar Temple

We slept well at night and woke up around 5.00 am. The sun had risen and the sky was bright. We were in the east of India we realized. I went back to bed and woke up at 7 am. The car would arrive at 8.00 am. I had a leisurely shower and went down for breakfast. Right from yesterday the smart Nityanand had tempted us by saying I will serve you hot food straight off the stove instead of eating from the hot pots if you come down to dinning table near the kitchen. Wasn't that tempting an offer?

As I entered the dinning area he rattled off all the dishes he can make for us, poori bhaaji, paratha, satoo etc. but we stuck to our cornflakes and milk, toast with butter and orange marmalade and wonderful cups of lightly spiced tea.

Kolkata's signature yellow cabs

We first drove to Belur Math. Today there were some celebration going on every where and we saw procession carrying the pictures of Ramkrishna Paramhansa. That prepared us mentally for the crowd we would meet at the math.

Belur Math

We went over the Bally bridge that spans over the Ganga (known as Hoogly in Bengal) and passed through dusty roads, everything looked old and dilapidated. It depressed me to see the reminiscence of a golden era gone by. The new IT revolution has not changed much here. Then I thought may be we are at the end of the summer, soon the monsoons will wash the "City of Joy". and prove the title endowed on it to be true. The thought of rain soothed my mind too.

The Belur Math area is beautiful, situated parallel to the Hooghly and is in the midst of orchards. I need to go there on quieter days. To be able to sit in front of Swami Ramkrishna Paramhansa's statue and be still in the mind. On this the day the main sanctum that houses Pramhansa's idol was closed due to the celebrations. This main building was conceptualised by Swami Vivekanand himself. It is a beautiful sandstone building with a design very Indian yet minimalistic.

In a nearby Pandal kirtans were being delivered and Rabindra Sangeet lilted in the air. Click here to listen to this genre of music. The Ramkrishna Mutts all over India have a certain serenity, discipline and cleanliness that most temples in India lack. In spite of the rush we managed a few moments of solitude on the river bank.

The Hoogly at Belur Math

We paid our respects at the temples that housed the relics of Sharada Mata, Swami Vivekanand and Brahmanand swami.

The Hoogly flowed slowly here almost reflecting the teachings of Ramkrishna Paramhansa of submitting oneself to God. The Ganga that starts its journey at Gangotri in the himalayas gushing through the mountain ranges and plains completes it here and unites with its lover, the sea in an embrace that's calm and peaceful.

We bought some books on the lives of Swami Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekanand. I was a little upset that the main shrine was closed and we did not get Darshan. Dad had pacified me by saying that may be it would be a reason to visit again. I spotted a large picture of the shrine in one of the stalls and felt calmed almost instantly.

Our second stop was at Dakhineshwar across the Hooghly where Paramhansa had been a practicing priest at the Kali temple. This temple is diagonally opposite the Belur Math across the river and we could have taken a boat ride but since we had not informed our driver so we decide to cross the bridge over to Dakinshewar. That also was a learning always ask for the driver's cell # so you can reach him when you need to just is case you change plans or get lost in some area.

Again as it was a Sunday here too there was a huge line for Darshan. We did not realize that it would take a good one hour for us. Dad was exhausted in the harsh March sun by the time we got to Kalimata's shrine, he refused to go around to the smaller shrines and wanted to get out of the place. Yes but he did insist that we go and wash our feet in the Ganga at the ghat. There were many people having bath there. The water deep and flowing smoothly it was cooling when we had a quick wash even though it wasn't clean. We wet our eyes and on the head at the Brahmarandhra in the action of becoming Suchirbhut. I overheard a young girl exclaimed, "Oh this is the Ganga from where people collect holy water for Pujo at home!" Yes it is just the faith that has kept this tradition going.

While were were driving from airport to the city we had spotted the "Haldiram Food City". It was now 12.30pm and we were tired and hungry, we decided to check it out. Read more about the Food City and this meal that we enjoyed.

After a good two hours at Food city we drove to Science city.

The Science City has the usual things to showcase nothing new but both Dad and me enjoyed all the three shows. We could not get the tickets for Time Machine show as all were full till 6.15 pm and it meant it would be too late for us. So we bought tickets for the documentary, 'Forces of Nature' that was playing in the Space theatre, 3D show and The Evolution tour.

The space theatre is a dome theatre where the seats collapse and you watch the movie in the sleeping position. The multimedia impact was so good that I enjoyed it but Dad was attending such a show after ages and he felt giddy. So I just told him to close the eyes and lay back till the end of the show.

The 3D show had adults and all screaming like kids though it was meant for juvenile audience.

The Evolution tour was a walk through a tunnel exhibiting the evolution of dinosaurs. When we were inside the power went off for 10 mins and people got agitated but maintained discipline, thank GOD!

Oh yeah forgot to mention we enjoyed the 10 min ride on the cable car from the entrance into the Science City. Finally wound up our day there at 6.00pm and returned to the guesthouse.

The unusual shaped buildings in science city

The mural that dominates the skies of Science City.


Sandeepa said...

Thanks Anjali. That Haldiram is good isn't it, though I haven't sat down for a meal there. Did you try any other eateries ?

Anjali said...

Sandeepa I was in Kolkata for a short while so many more eateries to try in the future.