Setting for Dominique
Lapierre’s "The City of Joy" - Calcutta, a m<![if !vml]><![endif]>ere
village in the 17th century, is today the commercial hub of eastern
India. It has a fascinating legacy of colonial architecture, which
gives the city its distinctly British mould. Visit the most potent
symbol of British supremacy in India, The Victoria Memorial built
by Sir William Emerson, president of the Royal Institute of British
Architects. In the centre of the pathway leading to the entrance
is a statue of Queen Victoria by Sir George Frampton with excellent
art Nouveau details. Note the British Lion beneath the Imperial
sun on the reverse of the bronze throne. The rooms and galleries
house a fine collection of paintings, artifacts, sculptures, books
Calcutta, The largest metropolis in India, Calcutta is a vibrant <![if !vml]><![endif]>city on the move, volatile and unpredictable. The Gateway to India,
till 1912, and the capital of the Raj in India, it still bears the
Victorian imprint on its streets and structures. A city just about
ready to burst at the seams, Calcutta is home to more than 10 million
people. It is the commercial nerve-centre of the East, with major
industrial plants, textile mills and corporate units. Regal edifices,
grubby alleys, bustling bazaars, elegant hotels, people from all
walks of life - Calcutta has it all.
Access by Air:
Kolkata is well connected to the main Indian cities. It has regular
flights to all the major Indian cities. The international Netaji
Subhash Airport (Dum Dum Airport) is 20 kms from the city. Most
of the domestic airlines have direct services to and from Kolkata-Kolkata
to other important cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai,
Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, Bangalore.
Access by Rail:
Regular train services connect Kolkata to all the major cities
in India such as to Mumbai in Western India, New Delhi in North
India, Cochin in South India, Chennai in South East India etc.
Access by Road:
Kolkata's National Highway connects it to the major cities of
India. The National Highway connecting Kolkata is superbly made
with long driving and motels in between kept while upgrading the
highway for the welfare of the drivers in mind.
Location Map of Kolkata:
Sightseeing places in and around
Howrah Bridge, across the Hooghly river, a huge
cantilever<![if !vml]><![endif]> structure, supported by two 270 feet high piers, greets
the eye. Forming the green heart of the city is the great stretch
of lawns called the Maidan, fringed on one side by the river, and
on the other by an elegant boulevard, the Chowringhee.
Botanical Gardens, Located 8 kms from Calcutta
on the west bank of Ganga . The highlight of the Gardens is the
200 year old banyan tree, said to be the largest in the world. The
tree is 26 meters high with a circumference of approximately 900
feet. With prior permission one can also visit Mother Teresa’s
home for the destitute and dying called Nirmal Hriday.
Excursion to Kali Temple (Dakshineshvara) & Belurmath
: The famous Kali Temple is the holiest temple in the city
and it is here tha<![if !vml]><![endif]>t the animal sacrifices associated with the worship
of Kali take place. The building is of plastered brickwork; the
roof has curved cornices in two tiers in the indigenous Bengal manner.
On the Right Bank of the Hooghly River, about five kilometres from
the city centre lies the Ramakrishna Matha also known as Belurmath.
The temple is revivalist in style, blending traditional Bengal features
such as curved cornices and multiple dome-like towers and turrets,
with Mughal columns, arches and balconies.
Serampore : Serampore, situated 21 kilometers
north of Calcutta, was a former Danish settlement of Fredricksnagar.
Serampore became renowned for the work of the three-Baptist missionaries
– William Carey, William Ward and Joshua Marshman –
who resided in the Danish port to avoid the hostility of the English
authorities in India. Visit the Government house that retains a
fine entrance gateway (1814). It was once enriched with the monogram
of Fredrik VI, set in a triangular pediment carried on paired Ionic
pilasters, but much of the baroque details have been eroded. Also,
visit the famous and beautiful Roman Catholic Church.
Victoria Memorial, an imposing white marble edifice,
a museum housing the relics of the British Empire . The Memorial
which took 15 years to build, also has an Art Gallery within.
Shanti Niketan : The Shanti Niketan or the abode
of peace is the name chosen by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore
for the site of the Vishwa Bharati University - a university conceived
as a place where the whole world meets. Founded on idealism it has
a distinct atmosphere and classes conducted under the shade of trees.
There are facilities for the study of comparative religions, philosophy,
Chinese and Indian classics and the fine art. There is a museum
and art Gallery within the complex where Tagore lived. The university
is open to visitors in the afternoon (on Tuesdays it can be visited
only in the morning and on Wednesdays it is completely closed)
Bishnupur : This interesting town of terracotta
temple is a famous cultural centre. It flourished as a capital of
Malla kings from the 16th to early 19th centuries. The Mallas were
great patrons of the art which is reflected here. Since there is
no stone in the area, the traditional building material for important
buildings was brick. The facades of few of the temples here cover
the ornate terracotta tiles depicting lively scenes from the Hindu
epic. This town is famous for its pottery and silk.