Every city has a story to tell, and Kolkata will charm you with a story of her own. On a recent trip to Kolkata, I got an opportunity to explore the city with a fresh new perspective. A one-week trip to Kolkata was seasoned with a myriad of emotions and experiences that may be overwhelming to pen it all down, but I shall try.
It started off with a family reunion after 38 years. What made it special, was that family members from across the globe and the country flew down to be a part of this special event. A retelling of childhood memories was interspersed with warm hugs and tears of joy and melancholy. The last time we met, many of us were children and today when we attended the reunion, we were accompanied by offsprings of our own. Time truly is enigmatic; it heals, it gives you no option but to move ahead and shows how far we’ve come. The catalyst to this reunion was a cousin who was keen on a traditional Bengali wedding in Kolkata. Thank you to the newlyweds who flew down from Canada and the US and brought us all together, once again.
The December trip to Kolkata also included visiting some of the most iconic historical monuments, digging into street food, shopping at New Market and Dakshinapan, visiting the Bawali Rajbari and of course, a wedding to remember! Yes, sometimes, when time is short, you better keep pace, as there’s no time to lose.
If you’re visiting Kolkata for the first time or have visited earlier, sharing with you some ideas for an itinerary to include in your travel plans.
The holiday began with a luncheon at 6 Ballygunge Place, don’t miss their delectable spreads of Gondhoraj Chicken and Maacher Paanturi. We love their food so much that we had our family reunion here.
If you’re traveling with children (great idea), or alone, a trip to the Indian Museum is a must. I was truly impressed with what’s in store for us. It’s a crash course in history, science and culture which will leave you awestruck as to what our country and this world have witnessed so far.
How can we forget a walk into the manicured gardens of Victoria Memorial? The iconic white marble monument stands tall and proud, welcoming us to the city. A must visit with your children. History teaches a lot about what our country has endured and makes us humbler that in spite of all odds, we’re going strong as one of the largest democracies in the world.
Next was a trip to the Jain Temple, nestled cosily between manicured lawns and adorned with shining and colourful mirror work and glass; allow yourself some time walking and just let the beauty and the calm of the temple embrace you.
And if you think it doesn’t get any more romantic, how about a Hoogly River Cruise where you can witness the beauty of the river against the backdrop of the setting sun. As the boat takes you on an unforgettable journey, you are made to witness one of Kolkata’s historic landmarks – the Howrah Bridge that allows the sea of humanity to travel across the city and stay connected. It’s gigantic size and structure is bound to leave you awestruck.
With a halt at Belur Math, take a walk to the temple for a moment of spiritual pause. Do yourself a little favour, gift yourself a few moments to meditate and allow your mind to uncrowd itself.
A trip to Kolkata would be incomplete without a visit to New Market. Whether it’s patali gur which is date palm jaggery only available during winters in Bengal, or shoe shopping at Sree Leathers or cake and puffs at Nahoum’s, New Market is a landmark with a historical identity of its own. Stop by for curio and street shopping to feel the pulse of the city. On this very trip, I came across Mignonette, a high-end boutique just for kids (it is a part of the BK Birla Group Initiative) that’s worth checking out. Caution, you can’t pick up one, the handmade clothes for little boys and girls are way too adorable!
If you’re at Dakshinapan, don’t miss Silence, a self-help store with a unique collection of handmade gifts and curios to take back home. Whenever I visit Kolkata, Silence is always on my list to take back some curios for friends and family.
Finally, the icing on the cake, a grand yet elegant destination wedding at the Rajbari Bawali. About an hour and a half drive from Kolkata (depending on the traffic), we witnessed the beauty, serenity and charm of this heritage resort set against the backdrop of the Bengal countryside. Beautiful spacious rooms and the ambience, befitting the zamindars of Bengal; reminded me of my ancestral home back in Bandel. Take a digital detox and sink into a leisurely pace with a book and treat yourself to a snippet of luxury.
From heritage tours to the Hoogly river cruise, a destination wedding and a family reunion, I signed off 2019 on a happy mellow note. Until we meet again, Kolkata, may you keep charming and welcoming people with your beauty.
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