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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Do I really need a holiday...?

As a child I always had a lot of question in my mind, Why the grass is green? why not blue? why the water is wet why not dry? I had a million question to ask god I wished to turn the earth into a sheet of paper & all the oceans into ink and write a letter to god, now I laugh at this very thought of mine. As I grew up, the mysteries of nature have been unfolded partly. I always craved to be close to nature because we lived in the city.



                               I love to watch the village life

My Father was keen on taking us for a holiday every year during our summer vacation. We usually visited the country side, it was rich with greenery, fresh air, cuckoos, hills, the river and the paddy fields, it still lingers in my mind, my favourite sport was plucking mangoes with the country kids. My father always said Vacations force us to exercise because we walk greater distances, swim, chase the kids around and play sports. Regular movement during the day also boosts our circulation and gets our blood pumping which ups our heart rate and immune system. .
 
                The earth thy bed the sky thy blanket.......

 Have you ever slept on the green grass and watched the sky for hours? have you ever walked by the sea on a moonlight night? Have you ever rolled yourself on the sand by the sea? If you have done all this then I don’t have to tell you how it feels. I would say we all have the right to bestow a vacation to ourselves. You need to wipe out some space from your busy, stressful life, a holiday is not a luxury it is a vital necessity for a healthy body and peaceful mind, paying the hotel bills is much better than paying the hospital bills.
 
                               
 The ocean rock the moon to sleep every night and the garish  sun wakes to kiss the beach.


We all need a break from the stress of work we are glued to. According to me every country should give maximum mandatory holidays for its citizens for a healthy nation. The government spends huge amounts of money on the health organizations unnecessarily. Its time for you to dig out and dust your old suitcase. Forget everything behind and zoom for a trek or camping in the forest.

Last month my friends from Bangalore called me to ask for the best place for Trekking in India, well, I suggested them to go trekking to Sikkim, it is located in the East Himalayas. It is the  capital and only town is Gangtok. Sikkim has borders with Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and the Indian state of West Bengal. Sikkim is a place where your mind starts meditating unconsciously and your soul is mesmirised. Sikkim is entirely hilly with elevations ranging between 300m and 8583m. The highest elevation is Mt. Kanchendzonga,the summit of the kanchendzonga is the higest point which falls on the border between Sikkim and Nepal,the third highest peak in the world, which is worshipped as the guardian deity of the state. 

                                                                  Yumthang, Sikkim

My last visit to Sikkim was in the month of  February 2010, the best thing about this place is the scenic beauty and the warm hospitality of the locals.My husband and myself enjoyed exploring the hills, we started with Gangtok, here we strolled around the M.G. Market did some shopping (bargaining is highly recommended).

                                                        Parvez at M.G.Market, Gangtok
The weather coaxed me to wrap myself with a thermal wear, two tops, a pull over and a pair of jeans, how can I forget my cap? If you are planning for a Trip to Sikkim then do carry all of the above stuff and also a pair of warm gloves, I couldn't manage without them, I still loved the weather. You can gulp in a few glasses of liquor(its damn cheap) before moving out of your hotel, this will help you keep warm.

                                                         1700 ft above sea level
People having high blood pressure and heart trouble should take precautionary measure or avoid these sites as they are located at a very high altitude of 1700 ft height.



Can you see the frozen Changu Lake behind me, this lake is situated at an altitude of 12,000 ft on the Gangtok Nathu La highway. It falls in the restricted area and hence an inner line permit is required by Indians to visit this place. Foreign nationals are not permitted to visit this lake without special permission. The lake is about 1 km. Long, oval in shape, 15 meters deep and is considered sacred by the local people. It is also a home of brahminy ducks. It's cool, placid water harmonizes with the scenic beauty around. A small temple of lord Siva is constructed on the lakeside . This placid lake remains frozen during the winter months up to mid-May. At the lake I parted with 50 bucks for a Yak ride and posed for the picture above. we enjoyed the trip to Changu lake, baba mandir and Nathula, here I  felt that nature had banged the door hard on the city: cars and buses honking loud & sprawling,  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and found my self again. A vacation can really gift yourself to you. 

one of my favourite travel quotes....
                  "If I were a medical man, I should prescribe a holiday to any patient who considered his work important."
-- Bertrand Russell 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bestow a holiday....

As a child I always had a lot of question on my mind, Why the grass is green? why not blue? why the water is wet why not dry? I had a million question to ask god I wished to turn the earth into a sheet of paper & all the oceans into ink and write a letter to god, now I laugh at this very thought of mine. As I grew up, the mysteries of nature have been unfolded partly. I always craved to be close to nature because we lived in the city. My Father was keen on taking us for a holiday every year during our summer vacation. We usually visited the country side, it was rich with greenery, fresh air, cuckoos, hills, the river and the paddy fields, it still lingers in my mind. My father always said Vacations force us to exercise because we walk greater distances, swim, chase the kids around and play sports. Regular movement during the day also boosts our circulation and gets our blood pumping which ups our heart rate and immune system. 

. You can go off the path, and make mistakes; but you'll pay o Have you ever slept on the green grass and watched the sky for hours? have you ever walked by the sea on a moonlight night? Have you ever rolled yourself on the sand by the sea? If you have done all this then I don’t have to tell you how it feels. I would say we all have the right to bestow a vacation to ourselves. You need to wipe out some space from your busy, stressful life, a holiday is not a luxury it is a vital necessity for a healthy body and peaceful mind, paying the hotel bills is much better than paying the hospital bills. We all need a break from the stress of work we are glued to. According to me every country should give maximum mandatory holidays for its citizens for a healthy nation. The government spends huge amounts of money on the health organizations unnecessarily. Its time for you to dig out and dust your old suitcase. Forget everything behind and zoom for a trek or camping in the forest.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bygone era of Calcutta(Kolkata): The more I explore Calcutta the deeper it dwells i...

Bygone era of Calcutta(Kolkata): The more I explore Calcutta the deeper it dwells i...: " E..."

The more I explore Calcutta the deeper it dwells in my Heart

                                                                  
                                                                       Explorer Indu


I (explorer Indu) hail from the Southern part of India however I spent most of my life in West Bengal, for the past ten years I am staying in "the City of Joy" Calcutta which is renamed as Kolkata. I prefer to call it Calcutta like most of my friends do. After going through the history of this City, my love for this city grows deeper and deeper. "I love Calcutta" it is a very human city, its not like a city but more like a town, one needs to stay here to know this city, though this city is immense and sprawling with every single inch occupied by something or someone and most of it is in advance state of decay. here people are warm and helpful, benevolant and human. Dominique Lapierre, a French Author born in La Rochelle, France stayed in Calcutta and observed the people and named this city as "The City of joy", the hospitality of this City is beyond imagination.

                                                          St. Paul's Cathedral
              

Calcutta is a place which can be best understood by walking and exploring each one of its corners, a place whose joys and agonies cannot be fathomed by a mere visit. It is the only metropolitan today with trams and man- powered rickshaws still running on its roads. Kolkata has so many hidden 'gems' of architecural and historic value, like the Victoria memorial, the Howrah bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. John's church, the Armenian Church, writers building, Jain temple, the Kali temple at Kali ghat, the Shovabazar Raj Bari, marble palace etc.
                                                  The Great Eastern Hotel 1910


                                                     The Great Eastern Hotel 2010
                                             I started exploring Dalhousie from The Great Eastern Hotel:  This 165 years old hotel now stands like a an old lamenting widow, all her charms withered with time, those were the glorious days when it was called “the nucleus of high society”, the burra sahibs and English men were her daily patrons and vacationers. She had beautiful European bar maids, cabaret dancer and her bar chock-a-block with people. By 1883, the entire premises of the hotel were electrified. It was probably the first hotel in the country to be illuminated by electric lights. So exalted was its reputation, that for a while, it was even referred to as the `Jewel of the East'.The Japanese and Koreans were its frequenters therefore it was also called “The Japanese hotel” this Wilson hotel was renowned for its euphoria and elegance. It had the privilege of English policemen patrolling its premises to shove the bullocarts into the by-lanes out of the way of burra sahibs. It has played host to lords, barons and foreign dignitaries, as also to Rajahs and Nawabs during the British Raj. Queen Elizabeth’s retinue also stayed here in 1961. It has changed hand many a time, now once again it is entering a new phase and into the hands of private owners. This classic heritage hotel has now been handed over to the Bharat Hotels Group. When re-opened, This Hotel will feature 244 rooms and suites, an all day dining outlet, two specialty restaurants, a 6000 sq. ft. Ballroom, 5 hi-tech Conference Rooms, a state-of-the-art Health Spa, Swimming Pool, two level Car Parking, from here I proceeded towards "The Dead Letter Office"  it is a place where the letters  which had no correct information necessary to get them delivered, or the person to whom the letter was addressed  was already dead and the letter had nowhere to go were collected at this office.
                                                    The Dead Letter Office at Dalhousie.

My next move was towards "The Writers Building" 
It is one of the very well preserved colonial era buildings in Kolkata. It is situated at the BBD Bag area (Dalhousie). The construction began at the late part of 17th century but it was mainly built between 1776 AD and 1780 AD by the british. It was to be the office of the junior writers of the East India Company. It was also their place of living. The building is very well preserved and is an imposing building in the area. At present it houses the administration of West Bengal Government and all important documents and records of the West Bengal Govt are preserved here. Photography is strictly prohibited here, so make sure that you don't take any picture of the Writers Building or else you will be in serious trouble. I enjoyed walking around this building, now i reached the Great Tank called the "Lal Dighi"

                                                      The Lal Dighi at Dalhousie

Around this Tank the East India Company established their factories, forts and business houses. This Tank was dug by a wealthy Bengali merchant, Lal Mohan Seth where the Setths used to hold the Holi Festival (the festival of colours) with great pomp and show, two temporary stages would be raised, one at the north for the deity Radha and the other at the south for the deity Sri Krishna, an ad hoc market, called Radha Bazar, would come into existence every year where Abir (powdered colours) were sold. During the Holi festival this Tank's waters would turn red with the colours hence this tank was named Lal (Red)Dighi(Tank). 
As I had started my walk early in the morning, there was less traffic on the road, I could smell the fresh air, as I reached the G.P.O(general post office), I stood at the middle of the road and took some pictures of the G.P.O, here is one of them...
                                                                              The G.P.O
The General Post Office is located opposite BBD Bgh and is the central post office in Calcutta and the chief post office of West Bengal. The building stands on the site of the original Fort William and is where the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta occured in 1756. The building was designed by Walter B Grenville and was built in 1864. It is notable for its imposing high domed roof (rising to over 220 feet) and for its tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars. It is also a home to the Postal Museum which was unveiled in 1884. I was walking through the white town(of the British era.) which once occupied the whole area of Dalhousie (renamed B.B.D Bag) and I was trying to imagine how the Beautiful English women walked in their stiff-bodiced mantua and long gowns in the White Town. I looked down, at the ground and wished it could speak. Next to the G.P.O is the Royal Insurance Building.
                                                          The Royal Insurance Building 
I walked further down and reached the Life insurance company building of the British Raj and took some pictures..
                                                           The Life Isurance building
Now the streets were becoming crowded because of the office hours, I walked pass the Governor House, once the house of  Lord Curzon, the Govern of Bengal.during the British reign.
                                                         The Governor House

                                                     Lord Curzon's House (during the British Era)

After spending a few minutes here I set off  for St. John's Church: 
St. John's Church is located on the Council House Street. The carpet of the church is done with stones obtained from different places. Its architecture represents Greek designing. The Church contains an impressive organ (perhaps the largest in India), and an original Zoffany painting. It also houses the famous round table on which the Charter of Calcutta was signed (When Robert Clive took Calcutta back from the Bengali nawab after the famous Battle of Plassey in 1757). The graveyard contains the tombs of important colonists, most significantly, that of Job Charnock himself (the founder of Calcutta) and his daughter.


                                          The mausoleum of Job Charnok at St. John's Church.


                                                            Inside St. John's Church
  


I sat on a bench outside the church and relaxed for a while and enjoyed the placid breeze and the serene atmosphere, here I ended my Walk for the day.

If you are planning to explore Calcutta then please feel free to contact me, I would love to join you for a walk to know more about me and my company visit www.letsmeetuptours.com or  mail us at tours@letsmeetuptours.com
                                           

The more I explore Calcutta the deeper it dwells in my heart.

I hail hail from the Southern part of India however i spent most of my life in West Bengal, for the past ten years I am staying in the City of Joy: Calcutta which is renamed as Kolkata. I prefer to call it Calcutta like most of my friends do. After going through the history of this City, my love for this city grows deeper and deeper. This City is crowded, loud and
Kolkata is a place which can be best understood by walking and exploring each one of its corners, a place whose joys and agonies cannot be fathomed by a phony visit. It is the only metropolitan today with trams and man- powered rickshaws still running on its roads. Kolkata has so many hidden 'gems' of architecural and historic value. One has to look beyond the grimy shop fronts in the crowded narrow lanes in order to suddenly spot a beautiful archway, or graceful latticed marble balcony. The city was known as 'The City of Palaces' because of its palatial homes.

European Calcutta

Like other cities Calcutta has its legend.

In 1530, the Portuguese sailors began to open up trade in Bengal. The river Hoogly was easily navigable. The ships anchored at Garden Reach and Betor the opposite banks of the Hoogly river. Whenever the ships arrived from Goa, incalculable thatched houses were erected; commercials and markets were flaunted at the bank of the river. The place looked like a village fair. Silk, muslin, lac, sugar, rice were filled in the budgreows  from Baranagar, Dakineshwar, and Aagarpara which were carried to the Big ships waiting at the Hoogly. The ships were encumbered with cargo and set off to Goa, the temporary and ad hoc houses of bamboo and straw were burnt by the Portuguese to leave no trace of their arrival. During that time there were no Taverns in India therefore the Portuguese took shelter in their ships. Later  in 1835, the first tavern of India was built at Dalhousie “ The Great Eastern Hotel” called the Auckland Hotel by David Wilson. It was also know as the Wilson Hotel.
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After the Portuguese the French arrived in Bengal, they built a French colony at Chandanagar in 1673, they had taken permission from the Nawab  Ibram Khan to set up a permanent trading centre in 1688 at the bank of the river Hoogly.
In 1756, Colonial Robert Clive of East India Company and Admiral Watson of British Navy attacked the French and captured Chandanagar .

After the French, the Armenians arrived as traders from Armenia(east of Turkey) they established their permanent settlement at Chinsura, later they moved to Calcutta and made contributions in developing Calcutta. The Armenian church at Dalhousie(B.B.D BAG)  still stands as one of the evidence. At the same time the Dutch came to Bengal they set up their factories and trading centers at Chinsura.  The Dutch built their second colony at Baranagore, near Calcutta, which was mainly a port and loading dock for Dutch ships.  
Job Charnok an employee of the East India Company, he was born in Lancashire, England. He came to India in 1655. He was posted in Patna(Bihar). On 24th August 1690 he arrived at Sutanuti in Bengal, there were three villages on the eastern bank of the river hoogly- Kalikata, Sutanuti and Gobinda pore with approximately a population of three hundred inhabitants. It is said that the fourth village was Chitpore from which a long road lead to Kalighat in the south, the path lead through a tiger infected jungle, later this jungle was cleared by the British hence maidan came into existence here it was used as a landing ground for the helicopters. A hermit named Chowranghi built a Shiva temple on the way , now the temple has been replaced by the Asiatic Society at Park Street. The road is still called the Chowranghi road.
Job Charnok is believed to be the founder of Calcutta however some believe the Seths to be the one who found Calcutta. The East India Company commenced by attempting merely to establish factories for their agents, and places of deposit for their goods. In order to protect them they erected several forts in India. Fort William was built at Dalhousie in the White Town. At the commencement of the East India Company’s operations, under the reign of Elizabeth, the Company was permitted for the purpose of profitably carrying on its trade with India, to export an annual value of £30,000 in silver, gold, and foreign coins.