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India: Kolkata

Tale of my brief, awe inspiring visit of the giant, bustling, jovial, contrasting and cultured capital of West Bengal

sunny 32 °C
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Kolkata (Calcutta)

Arrival

Took the leisurely early flight from Port Blair to Kolkata.
As soon as the taxi ventured from the airport, it was total chaos; different kind to Delhi and Mumbai. Kolkata makes those cities seem spacious, clean, and sweetly aromatic.
Having said that, once you delve into this city, you realise it's a truly amazing, friendly, vibrant, artistic, jovial and colourful place!

Plush Lodgings

I treated myself to 'Chrome', touted as a boutique 4 star hotel (AUD$80 per night). I would say the service is better than 5* hotels that I have been to. Nothing was too much trouble for the young hip staff.
This hotel has won several design awards and I can see why - gorgeous, cool and ultra functional. The shower hits you vertically and horizontally!!

It felt super luxurious to have a proper hot shower, watch back to back movies, have a super comfy bed with quality linen, order proper western room service, have 0 noise pollution, and check out after 10am!

Exploring Kolkata

Yes, OK, the poverty in Kolkata is right in your face. More so than any other city I have seen, ever.
Like all Indian cities, the duality of rich and poor is staggering - but Kolkata is on a completely different scale.
Heavily guarded Rolex and Gucci stores, with young mothers and street kids sitting outside. This kind of thing was everywhere.

However, I barely came across any begging and everyone street-side was busy - making food (or joyously consuming), selling wares, washing cloths, carting stuff around, hawking, etc.
Kolkata is all hustle and bustle and I met nice folks everywhere I went. Shop assistants to internet cafe attendants were all keen for a chat.

I ventured to Park St first. Nice restaurants, plenty of book stores, etc and walked around.

Busy Park St, full of those indestructible Ambassador cabs:
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I then walked around relatively aimlessly for two hours, in relative awe.
I like museums and temples, but only in small doses. When I travel, the most interesting thing to me is walking around and experiencing the day to day. Kolkata is the most fascinating city in India for that!

I caught up with my buddy Ryan who was on his way to Nepal.
We went to the super busy New Market area in search of some Thai food (to no avail), and then to Victoria Memorial. This St Paul's like building is set within a gorgeous park, reminiscent of a mini Regent's Park (London).

Spiderman watches over New Market:
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There was some kind of festival happening that we couldn't really figure out.
On stage, a wonderful group of musicians played traditional Indian music with soaring vocals and intricate tablas. These performances were interspersed with long lectures (I think in Bengali), presumably on spirituality.
Surrounding stage and seating, were different and interesting stalls - one bookshop selling only communist works (mostly Chinese and Cuban), whilst some sold religious texts, etc.

Thanks Kolkata, it was a pleasure!

It was a short, fun, interesting and eye opening visit to Kolkata.
I was initially deterred from visiting West Bengal's capital, but so glad I did.

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Off to Darjeeling now for some mountain ramblin', whoohooo!

You can see all my photos from Kolkata here

Posted by SkinnyFists 01:48 Archived in India Tagged india kolkata

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