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Let’s start on a different note this time. Remember Twilight saga? Remember how Jacob imprinted on Renesmee?

Imprinting on someone is like when you see her, everything changes. All of a sudden it's not gravity holding you the planet, it's her. Nothing else matters. You would do anything, be anything for her.

This is what one is bound to feel while standing on the roads of Shovabazar or Sutanuti of Kolkata. The bygone era of the history comes whooping in imprinting on your mind. The best place for the street photography, be it the narrow lanes through the century old buildings, the hand pulled rickshaw or the ramshackle trams, North Kolkata is Bengali’s own way of connecting to the past it had risen from. Here enlisted five such wonders of North Kolkata (besides the above mentioned ones) that one must not miss while on first visit.


My routemap

Kumartuli

Situated on the banks of River Hooghly, Kumartuli or Coomartolly is where the present day artistry of Idol-making perseveres.  Started off from Ahiritola Ghat, towards the lair of the proficient artistes, to witness the making of Bengal's largest festival of Durga Puja.  However Kumartuli remains  busy shaping the clay idols all through the year but the month of September is swirled with huge idols for the coming October's Puja. The onlookers are left awestruck at how adeptly the artists shapes the figures in such a restricted space available to them. Each and every long stretches of shaded space is packed with the clay figurines of Devi Durga on her lion with Mahisasura at her feet and her children (Lakshmi, Saraswati, Karthik and Ganesh). The "Mrit Shilpi"s sculpting the figures out from mere bunch of straws and painting it to give a lively look is a month long process and indeed a sight to see and is a delight to the photographers' lens. 

The clay idol-making

The moulding of hands through the touching of hands

The Lion of Devi Durga


Best time to visit:  From mid August to last of September depending on the Durga Puja timing;  Cost:  The photographers need to get a ticket of ₹50 for camera which is valid for six months and an entry ticket of ₹50 for the group. 

Although originally a saat-mahala house the most intact of the remaining spaces is the courtyard with the thakurdalan. A saat khilan thakurdalan with multi-foliate arches supported on pairs of squared pilasters. Pairs of columns with plain shafts rise up between the arches to support the entablature above [Courtesy: Wikipedia]


The board narrating the historical background
Best Time to Visit:  During Durga Puja, on other times a prior permission may be needed;  Timing: Closed on Sundays. On other days 10 am to 4 pm with prior permission;  Cost:  Free
Where to Eat: Arsalan; Address- Shyampukur Street, 138, Bidhan Sarani, Hati Bagan, Shyam Bazar, Kolkata, West Bengal 700004
Thakurbari, the house of the Tagore's, it is the place where the Bard of Bengal was born and breathed his last. The red-green building typical of North Kolkata is situated amidst a verdant spreading lawn.  Going straight through the door gets you in the Thakur Dalan or an open-roofed corridor encircled by the rooms of the main building.  

The frontal view of Thakurbari

The sign saying "the main doorway"

The main building is now turned into a museum with the artefacts of the progenies of Maharshi Dwarkanath Thakur. The first room at the entrance depicted the then “Baithakkhana” with an attached kitchen.   The next room was of Rabindranath himself and it was here he breathed his last.  Through his room, the inner corridor and other rooms (Andar Mahal) are accessible.  

The Thakur Dalan

The rear portion of Thakurdalan

The other rooms on first floor are dedicated to Rabindranath Thakur’s various visits all over the world.  Rabindranath himself was no less a traveller in his times.  He visited 36 countries.  The halls are dedicated to his visit to Japan, China, USA and Hungary.  The hall of China is turned to a miniature Chinese monastery with similar ambiance- with hanging Chinese lanterns and Chinese paintings on the wall,  a miniature Buddha in the adjacent hall,  followed by a seating hall with scriptures and porcelains from China,  giving way to the last hall with Chinese books.  The entrance to the hall is itself a lookalike of a monastery entrance.  The stairs to the second floor led to the Hall of USA and Hungary with features depicting the places.  The hall of USA has a mini Statue of Liberty, one would also find the famous frame shared by Einstein and Rabindranath here.  These are all situated in the Andar Mahal and the trail through the house is made comfortable by air conditioning, the trail through the inside veranda is shaded by typical the then matted curtains (madur-parda). 

Back to the outer corridor, towards the right of the entrance is the Vichitra Bhavan showcasing the artefacts used by Abanindranath Thakur,  to the right of the hall there is a smaller room showcasing Mrinmayi Devi's (wife to Rabi Thakur) things.  The stair to the top leads to the roof and the second floor rooms of Maharshi Dwarkanath Thakur.  

Angled view of the Thakurbari

Best time to Visit:  In March during Basanta Utsav, or during May, especially on Rabindranath Thakur's (9th may) birthday.  However it is opened all through the year;  Timing:  10 am to 4 pm;  Cost:  Students: ₹10.  Indians: ₹20.  Foreigners: ₹100.  Cost for carrying camera: ₹50. Camera is only allowed in outer premises.  Not allowed in the museum 

The not-so-known grandeur of Kolkata is situated right in open sight.  From Rabindra Sarani it’s at a stones throw distance. Surprisingly all through the way the place is comprised of Marble shops. One would wonder at the significance of the name right from the streets itself.  On reaching the destination one would awe at its sheer presence there.  The palace is placed right in between the green lawns which is again decorated with white Marble lions.  The palace has its own zoo which is not maintained now, however has species of peacocks, storks and monkeys.  In between the trees there are round Marble seating shaded by the scrubs and bushes.  

The Marble Palace

The entrance to the palace has two large deer-head mounts.  Entering into the palace will literally connote the name of the place.  The palace is flooded with marble effigies and indeed a paradise for the art lovers.  The reception hall has billiards boards and a notable Japanese bronze vase of about 4 ft.  Walking on, the guide took us to a dark room which when lighted displayed the 6 ft high Mahogany statue of Queen Victoria. Other statues included the Greek Goddesses; the ceiling of the room too was decorated with wooden motifs.  The “hakur dalan” has a marble fountain like structure in the centre, with the marble floor designed in floral patterns.  The central worshipping pedestal too is of Marble with the figurines of Rama and Sita made on the walls behind it.  The arched roof above the pedestal section too has cupids and floral designs plasterd on the edges. The corridors had caged macaws of different types and cockatoos.  

The first floor was availed through the wooden stairs with the wall paintings overlooking the visitors.  The first floor itself is another grandeur with frequent black marbled statues of birds (ravens mostly).  Worth mentioning is the dancing hall with the ceiling long wall mirror of Belgian  glass on both sides of the room, that my friend is going to etch it’s place on your memory. Throughout the hall was other statuettes personifying the Greek deities four seasons- Spring Autumn, Summer and Winter, the statue of Commerce and Agriculture. The other hall had the oil paintings of the linage of the Mullick family. Other paintings are – the “Marine View” by Dutch painter Jan Van Goyen, “Madonna with Child” by Italian painter Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, “The Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine” by Rubens and “The Martyrdom of St. Sebastian” by Piero del Pollaiolo, as also some paintings by famous Indian artist Raja Ravi Varna and The Last Supper. The first ever piano, the grandfather’s clock and the ivory tusk are the notable mentions. Other statues worth mentioning are the greek Goddesses of Venus holding cupid, Apollo, Moses etc.  

Best time to visit: Anytime;  Timing:  10 am to 4 pm. Closed on Mondays and Thursdays;  Cost:  Free entry, however you may tip the guide on your wish. You might need a prior permission from the tourism board.  Nevertheless, if you don't have any, a government identity card would do. 

One of the grandest structure of Kolkata. The architecture of the mosque resembles the Indo-Saracenic Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra. The entrance of the mosque is said to be built after the Buland Darwaza of Fatehpur Sikri. At the heart of the mosque, the purification pool is a sight to mention.

Courtesy: West Bengal Tourism

Best time to visit:  Anytime;  Timing:  All days of the week. 6 am to 8 pm. Cost: Free


2 comments:

  1. passportofawanderwoman@gmail.com23 September 2018 at 11:11

    There is so much architectural beauty in Kolkata. My friend who is a an architecture designer who visited to study these beautiful designs if buildings in Kolkata. I would love to visit one day too. Especially during Durga puja if possible.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved it! Excellent! You have portrayed the vivid descriptions of Kolkata icons so well! Only one comment: I would have loved to see Rabindranath Tagore's own room that you have mentioned, unless the photography is forbidden.

    ReplyDelete

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