Musings From The City Of Joy

I had a stop over of about four hours in Kolkata today, enroute to Chennai. I spent this time wandering through the city and taking pictures. You may have seen these pictures a million times. And I have nothing new to offer. Except - to me these pictures are reminders of a happy childhood spent in Kolkata, the City of Joy.

The first set of pictures are of the Victoria Memorial which have come to represent Kolkata as much as the Howrah Bridge. Wikipedia says the foundation was laid in 1906 by Lord Curzon. Here's an interesting tidbit. The funds for construction were not given by the British. Instead it was given by British Indian States and individuals who wanted to find favour with the British. So, apart from being a Memorial to Queen Victoria, it is also testimony to the sucking up and toadying done by Indians in the past.

The picture brings back a faint memory of when we had a picnic in the beautiful gardens around Victoria Memorial. I remember going into the museum with my father. I think there is a gown of the Queen on display. It was this delicate garment with some glittering embroidery or lacework on it. If being a Queen meant you got to wear grand gowns, then I wanted to be a Queen too!

Here's a picture of the sidewalk outside Victoria Memorial on the Fort William side. It was raining at the time that I took the photograph and the rain washed side walk with the greenery made for a pretty picture.

Here is a view of the Second Hooghly Bridge, also known as the Vidya Sagar Sethu. Taken from Fort William. It is beautiful no doubt. But somehow cannot compare to the majesty of the original Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu).

Walking down Park Street, I wandered past 19, Park Street. What is special about it? It is the address of the District Grand Lodge of Bengal of the Bengal Freemasons. It is tucked away between two large buildings and the lodge itself is not visible from the road. I didn't venture in. The signboard and interwoven letters on the gate intrigued me. Freemasonry is so secretive and Dan Brown has certainly added to its mystique.

Moving on to matters gastronomical - I had lunch at Flury's. Started in 1926, Flury's describes itself as a 'tearoom'. The website claims it to be the only tearoom in British India. Whatever the case, the food was good and the strawberry and cream sundae out of this world!

And finally, the drive to the airport in bumper to bumper traffic. Amidst the mounting stress of not knowing whether I would be able to make it in time to catch my flight, I took the time to be amused by the sight of traffic constables directing traffic while holding up umbrellas in the pouring rain. No pictures available of that though. You'll just have to take my word for it. It was a funny sight.

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5 Responses to Musings From The City Of Joy

  1. Mohan says:

    Hmm... I think almost all indian cities have something to do with name Victoria, thanks to British!
    Nice pics and a neat planner for a Joy visit to the city of joy :)

  2. sampavar says:

    Fours hours in Kolkata and you actually went out sight seeing. Not bad. Given that city's nightmare traffic conditions, one would have thought making a beeline for the airport would have been priority no. 1. anyway nice to see those pics. and looks like you had a grand time over there. bahut badiya.

  3. Sandhya says:

    We had visited Kolkata a couple of years back. It was difficult to find veg. restaurants! We saw the important tourist places, but not the places you have mentioned here! Somehow you select rare places to visit. I still remember your post about the Jewish settlements, shops, churches etc. in Kerala. I asked my niece to read your post and visit those places when she went to Kerala and she did.

    I enjoyed reading this post of yours, Deepa, thank you!

  4. Deepa says:

    Thank YOU Sandhya. You are always so encouraging. Were you ever a teacher? :)

    Don't know about visiting rare places. I just like to connect what I know to what I see and make it sound different! Like the tidbit about the Bengal Freemason Society.

    And you're so sweet to ask your niece to read my post on the Paradesi Synagogue. I hope your niece enjoyed her visit.

  5. "Moving on to matters gastronomical - I had lunch at Flury's."

    I wanna be in your shoes... and those were some nice musings from the City of Joy...