City of Joy – P Goes Ekla

Now that you’ve read about my Day Two in Kolkata, you can read a detailed account of my 3rd day.

What a generous breakfast spread at Kava, the Fairfield restaurant! It set me up for a walking & sightseeing day ahead. First up was the Howrah Bridge. My nemesis, the rain, had begun to fall again in a milder format; that emboldened me to walk the length of the Bridge & feel history exude from its every joint!

Apart from the Victoria Memorial, I’d been quite eager to see the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Tagore. My eagerness was fully satiated at this typical Bengali mansion of the older days with its striking green & red color, & the countless galleries holding invaluable information about the Nobel Laureate.

Some more family time followed with lunch with SD & her parents, my uncle & aunt. I wanted to visit the Science City but the rain had finally dampened my spirit. I wasn’t in a mood for more knowledge – gathering.

I made a brief halt at the Birla Mandir in Ballygunge. I was lucky to be there at the time of the evening aarti.

The rest of the evening was spent at Vertex, the lounge at Fairfield, listening to Pratham Kar, & then at Kava munching on a special Bengali dinner. Wraps on Day 3!

Howrah Bridge

The Howrah Bridge, also called Rabindra Setu, connects Howrah & Kolkata. I don’t think any bridge is as famous in India as this one is! And why should it not be? Apart from carrying 1L+ vehicles & 1.5L+ pedestrians on a daily basis, it also weathers the Bay of Bengal region storms. And that’s not a small feat!

Trivia – The steel to be used for the construction of the Howrah Bridge had to be imported from the United Kingdom but because of World War II breaking out, UK’s steel was diverted there.

Then, Tata Steel stepped in, developed the steel quality needed, & ensured the supply happened on time! Tatas, never letting the nation down!

I crossed the Howrah Bridge first in the cab & went till the Howrah Station. The Station too looked quite spectacular with its red facade. We returned to the Bridge but this time, I decided to get down & walk.

Howrah Station

We’d crossed about 1/4th of the Howrah Bridge when I got down. But there was no provision for me to enter the pedestrian path from the vehicular road. So, I walked back towards the end of the Bridge, crossed over to the pedestrian side & then began walking, enjoying this cantilever bridge as well as the Hooghly flowing below me.

So many, many people were walking on the Howrah Bridge. My cabbie had told me that the footfall was less that day because of it being a Sunday. I can’t even! I seemed to be the only one without anywhere to go!

All the while, old Hindi music kept popping into my head.

Traversing the Howrah Bridge

I do have to admit though that the pedestrian path was a little dirty. It may have been due to the rain.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari

Isn’t the name itself so romantic & evokes a sense of nostalgia? Sigh! Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral house of the Tagore family. It was here that Rabindranath Tagore was born, lived & died.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari is a priceless heritage remnant. It’s constructed in the typical Bengali style. I fell in love with the bright green & red facade the moment I saw it! The Museum within, commemorating the life of Rabindranath Tagore, is called the Rabindra Bharati Museum.

Apart from the entry ticket (INR 10), there is an INR 50 ticket to use mobile cameras within the premises but do note – photography inside the Rabindra Bharati Museum is prohibited.

The Museum comprises galleries related to Rabindranath Tagore & to the Tagore family. In the galleries related to Tagore, you’ll find his possessions, photographs, sequence of events leading to his illness & last days, his relations with countries like China, Hungary, Japan & the USA.

In the galleries related to the Tagore family, you’ll find family ancestry & photographs, Bengal School paintings, & Tagore house portraits. You can do justice to the Rabindra Bharati Museum only if you’re ready to invest at least three hours.

I love history & the Museum made me more aware of the nationalist movement in Bengal. I’d to tear myself away only when I began to feel a little faint & remembered that I’d to join my relatives for lunch!

As you tour the Museum, there are security guards who guide you on the right path & ensure there’s no noise/ unruliness. My only peeve here was that a couple of galleries had captions only in Bengali, making it difficult for me to understand.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick

I visited two outlets of Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick to buy the famous Bengali sweets. The Ballygunge outlet was quite large & had a sitting section on the first floor. It was clean & well-organized. I can say the same about the Mishti Hub outlet.

I bought Sandesh & Baked Rasgulla. Sandesh was tempting but the Baked Rasgulla was finger-licking! I now know what to ask for myself if someone goes to KOL!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Sharee Kuthi

My cabbie recommended seeing Sharee Kuthi if I was interested in buying saris. How can I say no to saris? So off I went to this store in Ballygunge to hunt for graceful tant saris.

Tant saris originated from the eastern side of undivided Bengal. During the Mughal rule, they flourished in their Jamdani & Muslin avtars. Sharee Kuthi has been manufacturing & selling Tant sarees since the late 1970s.

The shop was mid-sized but every conceivable kind of sari could be found there. I was only looking for tant; so, the friendly salesman displayed many beautiful saris for me.

I’m a quick shopper; I chose my purchases in a matter of minutes but I must admit that the temptation to buy more was there, owing to the wide & glorious variety available.

The salesman was a little pushy but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from N, it’s to brush off pesky salespeople!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Birla Mandir

This was an unscheduled halt. I’d asked Alam bhai if there was anything on the way to the hotel that I could see. Coincidentally, we were right in front of the Birla Mandir then.

An Evening at the Birla Mandir

I was also fortunate to visit at the time of the evening aarti. The Birla Mandir was opened to the public in 1996. It’s built in a contemporary style & has three impressive shikhars.

Shlokas & pictorial depictions from the Bhagavad Gita are engraved on the marble walls. I could imagine sitting & contemplating in its courtyard. All the idols inside – Radha Krishna, Shiv, Durga, Shakti, Hanuman, Ganesh, Dashavtars – are bewitching!

I was immensely contented with being able to participate in the aarti. Serendipity!

Note – Photography is prohibited inside. Cell phones have to be switched off. The shoe counter is located at the bottom of the stairs. The Birla Mandir was the only place in Kolkata where wearing a mask was mandatory.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Vertex – The Liquid Restaurant

I like the term ‘liquid restaurant’. It sounds so much better than ‘restobar’! It was my last night in KOL & I wanted to unwind. Vertex has both indoor & outdoor seating. The outdoor seating, of course, has a handsome view of the Biswa Bangla Gate.

I chose to sit indoors, thanks to the rain. The lighting was dim – quite a club kind of ambience. I caught a corner table at Vertex. Vertex has quite a range of beers, cocktails & wines.

I got myself a Paan Sour & sat back to enjoy my drink & the live music. The Paan Sour was a heady mix of Beefeater, gulkand, rose syrup, & freshly squeezed lime juice. To me, it tasted a lot like Paan Pasand, the candy I used to eat in my childhood. Yum!

Vertex – The Liquid Restaurant

Performing that night was Pratham Kar. He sang a medley of Bollywood songs & his energy was infectious! I spoke to him & came to know that he’s a software engineer by profession but sings as a side hustle.

He took down my requests & ensured he ended the night with my favorites! He’d built such an ambience at Vetex that a few of us were on our feet & grooving to his music. More power to you Pratham!

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Pratham Kar Live

Rating for Pratham Kar – 10 stars!

Exhausting but thoroughly soothing – that was my Day 3. Back with Day 4 soon!

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