Sunday, August 4, 2013

A different India: Tamed Kolkata

A year ago from 3rd week of September to October, I went on a solo travel to India for my birthday. Some say I was crazy. It was crazy! But unforgettable for sure. From Delhi, then last stop to Kolkata. First impression was that it was more modern and much more organized. Maybe it was because of the buildings, maybe drivers were following traffic lights. On my second day, I was asking myself, "Where are the cows?" I got so used to seeing them roaming anywhere, pooping anywhere. There were also lesser vendors on the streets, totally lesser touts, and lesser people, just some boys taking a bath on the sidewalks and brushing their teeth. Hehe. My Indian seatmate on the plane asked me "Do you like Kolkata?" I said yes. It's a good breather after visiting the normally chaotic cities, although I kinda missed the action of Delhi and Varanasi.

By its physical structures, Kolkata is oneA man looking for a passenger in front of the Gates of Victoria Memorial

A much more organized traffic, with interesting looking vehicles.
From Varanasi , you need to take a 21-hour train ride to Kolkata. I arrived late in the afternoon at the Bengal Buddhist Association where I stayed in their dormitory. It's a quiet place (of course), my room was quite large with AC, but my bed was terrible. It looked like the bedbugs would really bite!

A morning scene
Pigeons attack!

DAY 1 Mother Teresa's Motherhouse and Victoria Memorial
The Mother Teresa House continues to take in people who are in need. They have been moving around the city to perform charity works. Visitors are welcome to join them and volunteer. 

One of the rooms was turned into a humble museum dedicated to Mother Teresa. A division of the room showed her biography with numerous pictures of her social work, and the other dedicated to everyday objects she used like sandals, books, clothes, dinnerware. Parallel to that museum was the room where her tomb is. What struck me in the Motherhouse is her actual room where she worked and slept. They have kept it as it was before--a testimony of how humbly she lived, having so little necessities. Her room was small with only a single bed, a wooden desk and a chair, and a small bookshelf containing documents of the charities. It was not allowed to go inside, and take pictures of her room. 

Mother Teresa's Tomb
Some words of wisdom from the Mother
Victoria Memorial
It is currently the finest architectural structure and museum in Kolkata. A British named Lord Curzon was the one who developed this in memory of Queen Victoria. The British developed Kolkata into a city of commerce, flourishing on trade. Lord Curzon wanted him and his fellow British people who pioneered and helped in building Kolkata to be remembered, hence the memorial. It houses paintings, sculptures and photos of these important British and their cooperation with the Hindu, and a gallery of Kolkata's colonial-era history. It was not allowed to take photographs inside.

Victoria Memorial view from the vast pond.

Lord Curzon's Statue

 DAY TWO:  Howrah Bridge and New Market

Howrah Bridge
It is 702m long, built during WWII.
The Howrah bridge and Mr. Bean cabs--two of the popular British influence that are still evident in Kolkata. 

The Clock Tower
This red brick clock tower is located in the Hogg Market. 

...and just by walking around, I saw some amazing mural artworks!
This is one of their Metro stations. I love that they've turned a simple structure into something really special! Tile mosaic.
Bengal art is famous for their terracotta sculptures. This station was turned into terracotta relief sculpture inspired art.
Inside a cab. Notice that the driver didn't use the meter. All of them don't...

Overall, I can say if you want to prepare yourself for the "action" first, Kolkata is a good way to start your adventure :)

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