When the name of Kolkata falls around, a plethora of sudden imaginary worlds automatically hit our mind. And this is because, what you have heard and seen with a wonder, is something that must be existed colorfully more than it.
The very first thing comes in my mind when I think of Kolkata is Rosogolla, Yellow taxi and Tram. As the growing children, we all used to have one imaginary scene of Kolkata. This very same scene is well-preserved from British time to present time. I am talking about that quintessential rich historical touch which is all evident in Kolkata’s food, culture, architecture and lifestyle at a recent day.
Kolkata is like a fair of daily festival celebrated by a human life, possessing different kind of stories. But it’s all about the cacophony of city that makes it more alive unlike other cities. It is the unseen kind of street symbiosis, where a labourer with mere clothes on body or a sweaty man pulling hand-rickshaw is generally seen walking happily along with an affluent Bengali woman, who is wearing a white silk-sari with a typical red Bindi on forehead.
Kolkata is perfect yet silent blending of two worlds, Indian and Britain. It was a capital of our country during British time before it had been moved to Delhi in 1911. Being one of the most active ports of East India Company, a lot of important things were instilled in the veins of this city of joy. And it is also called “The Cultural Capital of India” for a reason. Not only cultural, but it has been emerging out as an Artistic Capital as well. My recent visit to Kolkata has evoked a lot of things from inside. I want to say it is really a kind of place that can awaken real you!
Affordable Cost Of Living!
Now after exploring Kolkata, I usually question myself most of the time. What is not there in this third most populous metropolitan city of India to live the happy-healthy-abreast-celebrating life? It’s extremely tough to answer this simple question. One of the best things about Kolkata is – it has possessed westernization in one hand while preserving the history and culture on another one.
Kolkata has the least cost of living among all metropolitan Indian cities. This is because it harbours most of the workers community from surrounded areas. Kolkata is not only abode to affluent artists, even it has most of the population from middle or lower economic class. However they are the real heroes. They are like engine of cities as art in every field is the precious requirement to create a new world with persistent joy around.
You can easily find food worth complete belly-therapy in a few bucks. But again, it’s like Kolkata is miniature form of vivid world. From a dish costing 20 bucks to a dish of 20K, you can find anything here. This is because Kolkata is the only place where restaurant and cafes from British time are still running in a full-fledge. It simply means you are investing money for a lifetime experience of food. Taking an example, Flurys is one of the finest places for dining in Kolkata. It was established in early 1927. But still it is providing the same taste of confectionaries and main course of British blend with other international items.
Food And Sweets!
So talking about food and sweets, I don’t need to mention that Kolkata is serving as one of the best destination for gourmets. From a routine local item to any international cuisine of any country, everything is available here. And how come as an Indian you can take a name of sweets without remembering Bengal!
Rosogolla, Sandesh and Mishti doi are the most famous and loved sweets. Kolkata is also the root source of “rolling food” in our country. You can find a lot of variety of rolls from simple veg to sublime non-veg at every little stall. And how can we forget about Biryani of Kolkata! Kolkata has always been talk of the country for its war of dispute with Odiya and Hydrabadi people. A dispute is of Rosogolla with Odiya people regarding where does it originally belong and for Biryani with Hyderabadi people regarding which one is best! Actually every Indian city has its own version of biryani. But it is Bengali people only, who put aloo in biryani. And surprisingly it’s scrumptious beyond imagination.
Puchka – the Bengali version of Pani-puri is another thing, which adds beauty to the vibrant streets of Kolkata. Puchka has comparatively more spiced added to its stuff. That is the reason giving completely different savour to our taste buds. Kullad chai is another identity of Kolkata. It is simple tea. But it is given in coloured-clay Kullad cup that adds colour to our ephemeral moment. This is not the end, as there are countless items of food present around. But for exploring it, if you take yourself to the old streets of Kolkata. Radha-vallabhi,Aloo and Mango-chop, Chat-papri, Jhal-muri, and Bengali khichdi are serving as the best amigos for the street wanderers.
The Best Transportation Chain
I am simply in love with the transportation chain of Kolkata. Whatever you have seen in your life as a mode of transport, Kolkata has all of it. After getting down at the most busiest Indian railway station – Howrah, you will find a new world of transportation on road. Starting from the fastest mode in form of the oldest Metro of our country to the slowest mode as a Hand-pulled rickshaw, you will find a lot of options vary from countless colourful buses, local train, tuktuk, tram car to famous yellow taxis, auto-rickshaw, and cycle rickshaw! And we can’t forget about boat ride and ferry system too. Although to your surprise, it’s the cheapest you can’t find anywhere else.
Moreover every way is thrilling in their own ways. Like buses will give you a kind of presenting thrill, where conductor has its own style to fold up collected notes amazingly between his fingers. It is as the same time giving you a unique and different kind of slit like paper ticket. Electric tram running in the mid of road is also one kit of rarity. It is only present in Kolkata in India and it’s the oldest of entire Asia. Another simple rarity is – “hand pulled rickshaw”. Now this all are the reasons, why streets of Kolkata look vibrant and alive! Imagine all of these magnificent scenes on a single way. You will surely end up getting one amazing picture. But I have many of such pictures!
History And Culture
Kolkata is a historical-cosmopolitan city from the beginning. It’s well-known for its history and culture. People generally say that at the end, history says it all. So it this sentence is believed, Kolkata says a lot. Not to forget, Bengali people had very strong hand in independence movement of our country though Kolkata was British Capital earlier. Khudiram Bose is that strong name comes to our mind which can not be forgotten by anyone!
We are well-known to Swami Vivekananda and Netaji-Subhash Chandra Bose. Their lives were closely related with this city from the beginning of their time. The Cultural-Indian Renaissance also took place here due to prominent personalities. Main faces behind this drastic change are – Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who opposed the Sati practise(burning of widows) system, Ishwar Chandra Vidhyasagar who implemented legalization of widow-remarriage and Savitri Bai phule who opened the school for untouchable and women. They all went against Indian culture for social reforming and this is why a lot of changed afterwards. Their culture is well maintained, meticulously enriched and free of absurd dogmas. The best thing above all is I visited Kolkata during Durga-Puja. Only after that I got to know how tremendously this festival is being celebrated. I will write a separate blog for Durga Puja only.
A Journey To Architectural Grandeur
Kolkata is planned and well-built city from British time. So the architectural presence is undoubtedly enchanting. Old Kolkata is still like a history book. You only can read it if you walk across those very tiny streets surrounded by old-ancient buildings with amazing artwork of house body. Either you can have a look of that typical-meticulous wooden art work around the spacious balcony with painted walls, or can hear a melodious voice of Kumar Sanu coming from typical of radio from the house. The door of house studded with sophisticated name-plate is enough to give you an insight of old Kolkata’s world.
BBD Bagh, which was previously known as Dalhousie square is a prefect gateway to explore old architectural world of British time. Apart from this, many famous colonial buildings like St. Paul’s Cathedral, Marble Palace, Kolkata Court, Victoria Memorial and many other, that gives lustre to the identity and name of Kolkata itself. A true wanderer can spend all the time roaming around the enigmatic presence of city.
ART And Kolkata
I have always have been fascinated by the fact that how come most of all Bengalis are used to be creative and utterly talented in the most of the fields. But when I witnessed their lifestyle, I got to know one thing. They have been lucky since very long time as they are provided that airy environment from childhood. One of the most important thing related with Kolkata and Bengal is ART. The more I interacted with people, I got to know that half of Bengali people take “Art” stream for their graduation. This fact reflects the fascination and prevalence of artistic presence around Kolkata. Rabindranath Tagore(the first Asian to get Nobel Prize in literature) has actually been the inspiration for many. So in literature, Bengali people always have been dominating our country with their surreal presence since long time. Either be it publishing world or journalism.
The Spiritual World Of Kolkata
The Hooghly and it’s tributaries run through the heart of city. They actually provide a lifeline to many people living at the bank and involved in related activities. This is the reason why blossoming of a new natural and spiritual world happened here. Howrah bridge built over this river is very potent identity and known pride of Kolkata. Every one of us probably has seen that bridge in movies many times. The area of main river bank serves as a home for many ghats, where idol immersion and other spiritual activities take place. Taking a ferry ride to go across a river at evening is another priceless experience to witness grandeur of Kolkata’s unseen life.
Swami Vivekananda’s guru – Ramakrishna Paramhans had established Belur Math at river side in old-time. It’s the destination where you can find ultimate reaching of spiritual activities with a peace. Apart from this, Kolkata is a deedland of Mother Teresa. It’s the same place where Mother Teresa was buried. This great soul known for spreading a peace had very strong association with the city of joy. You can visit her home too. Also there are a lot of missionaries where you can go, volunteer, donate and explore your spiritual side.
Park Street And Sudder Street
Park street is the most happening place of Kolkata where you can partying, shopping, having best food of any international cuisine and witnessing live music from such eminent bands. This place offers everything. But all you need to have is the tight pocket. Another place is “Sudder Street” which is famous as a backpacker’s heaven. It is the place where all foreign hippies used to flock when they started travelling to East Himalayas in early 1960-1970.
Terracotta and Markets Of Kolkata
Terracotta, Idol art and craft in little things with meticulous touch are permanent residents of Kolkata’s streets. It will make you realize how this city is actually running on the art for every class’s people. If you go to Kumartuli area of before Durga Puja, you will find a different world of making idols from clay. Kolkata is also believed to be the best destination for shopping. Bara Bazaar in Central Kolkata serves as the biggest market scattered in large territory where you can buy any kind of stuff from household need to local food to clothes. And you can easily bargain everywhere with much ease.
Road side market near Esplanade also provides things in very less price. It is actually an extension of newly made Hog market. I also walked through the biggest vegetable market – “Koley market” which is nearby Sealdah railway station. Now you need not to go to Bangkok or Srinagar for shopping from the floating market as now it’s present in Patuli area of Kolkata. This market provides all kind of stuff from Puchka to clothes to fish from the stalls installed in floating boats. Territy market is another different world, providing authentic wide range of Chinese food.
What Is Left?
Take any field of human life and then think about Kolkata or Bengal. You can’t separate them as Kolkata is strongly related with every field. If we talk about cinema, the greatest filmmaker of all time – Satyajit Ray was born here. He was the legend who won all time Oscar award in 1922 for his contribution to this field. Kolkata is the place where country’s best play and dramas take place. One of the best theatres of country is in Kolkata at Academy Of Fine Arts, where people say even MIC it not needed to spread the words. It’s the only place where you can find government cinema halls like Nandan for ultimate experience of Cinema. This is all because government knows the thing and thus it provided such productive flows for citizens.
If you talk about sports, the oldest football club-Mohan Began is from Kolkata. Also this city is believed to be the origin of Indian football Renaissance. And how can you forget about world-famous and the biggest stadium of country -Eden Gardens even or Sourav Ganguly aka Dada!
If you talk about science, don’t forget Jagadish Chandra Bose and CV Raman.
If you talk about economy, don’t forget about Amartya Sen.
If you talk about music, aren’t you aware of the most melodious voice of old-time and recent time-Kumar Sanu and Shreya ghoshal?
If you talk about Education, country’s best educational institutions are here. Lie Calcutta Medical College is one of the oldest medical colleges and IIM Kolkata is also the oldest IIM of India with the best prestigious presence for work.
If you talk about Literature, the greatest name of Indian literature like Rabindranath Tagore or Amitav Ghosh are from here. India’s biggest library is also present here Kolkata. College street of Kolkata also has country’s biggest book-market in a row. What else do you need?
Highest number of Nobel Prize winners are from Kolkata too, precisely Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen, CV Raman and Mother Teresa.
So this is all about Kolkata. People are kind of celebrating. They are living the best life with open and enriched culture . It’s called in Bengali “baro mase tero purbon”, means twelve moths and thirteen festivals. When it comes to celebration, no one can defeat Bengalis. And this is why they celebrate all festivals belonging to any part of country with sheer joy.
This is not even enough for me to express my love for Kolkata. But at the end, I want to say one thing to this city, “KOLKATA Ami tumai Bhalobashi .”