Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kolkata - The city of population, poverty, sweets, art, culture and a shopper's paradise

I have been to Kolkata last summer and it was one mixed experience. To start with, I was depressed by the poverty there. Many parts of India have always been below poverty line but this city which is called a Metro beats every other city and town in that matter. Problem is that people from extreme north-east India come to this city for employment and thus the population is high there. Not to forget the immigrants from Bangladesh. What struck me first, even before i went there, was the use of Paisa ( coins ) in the markets there. You can still buy vegetables for 25 paisa and 50 paisa. My in-laws were there for almost a year and half and whenever my Mother-in-law was here, she would collect all the coins and take them with her. There aren't good medical facilities available to everyone, infact most of the people there and those from the lower class families ( which is the general population there usually, infact most of the populaiton there ) depend on old Indian methods to get rid of their diseases.

One end of the city is with narrow lanes and people sleeping on pavements and toiling to earn their daily bread where on the other end there are skyscapers, security gurads at the main gates of multi-storied apartment buildings.

One of the best things of the city is the culture and art. The Begalis are full of art, be it in any form. The nation today has many singers and dancers from there participating in reality shows. Not to forget the painters and poets and film makers. The architecture can not just be described in words. You need to visit the place to see what I'm trying to put in here.
I havebeen to Vivekananda Museum which is called Belur Mutt Museum. The whole experience was just awesome. There are rooms which have been modelled in the way they have been kept by Swamy Vivekananda and his desciples. The Belur Mutt is by the river and to reach there we took a boat from Kali ghat. Kali temple at Kali ghat is the temple of Goddess Durga ( Kali ) as she is called. The pictures I have included in this post have been taken on a bost from Kali Ghat to Belur Mutt.
There is one more Kali temple in the city called CulCutta Kali which is very famous.
This is one of the abandoned temples, as was told to us, found on the ghats between Kali Ghat and Belur Mutt.

Another best thing about the city is shopping. I meant it when i said Kolkata is shopper's paradise. You should be good at bargaining to get the stuff at very low rates. The place is famous for Bengal cotton sarees which keep getting softer and softer as you wash them. I also bought jute bags and some jewellery on the road side. All in all a very mixed experience. It is a must visit place for everyone.

Oh by the way, I forgot to mention the climate there. It is very humid, being on the sea side. Summers a very hot and muggy and winters are very cold, chilly infact. I would still suggest going there in winters than in summers.


  1. Hey.. Sampoorna.. I spent two days in Kolkotta.. and love the place.. But just before we left.. we visited the Mother Theresa's home.. and we went to the orphanage.. i saw the kids and the women.. and that kid of stayed with me forever!!! I wish I could give back just a little to the society I live in!! If only!! Thanks for this lovely post... it brought back memories.

  2. My pleasure Patricia,I haven't been to Mother Theresa's home there as I couldn't find time, what a pity !!!!!! But next I go there, I'll make sure to visit the place.
    I share the same feeling with you as giving something to the society but to start with there are very small things that can be taken care of at home and in our street and colony and then may be go to the next level.
    It is always nice to know and interact with people who are on the same frequency.Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Oh hey,I just stumbled upon your blog and this happens to be a lovely post :) But I dunno which part of Kolkata you went that you got stuff for 25 paise?!I have been to other parts of India and I have used coins there too lol so it kinda sounded strange that paisas are still used here,isn't it used everywhere?

  4. Well, the stuff I was talking about was vegetables which my mother-in-law used to get for paise. As for the use of coins goes, I haven't seen any place other than Kolkata where you could use coins of 25 paisa or 50 paisa. Infact, it is hard to find those coins these days........
    Thanks for leaving your comments.


  5. Some facts here.. 1stly you never get a boat from Kalighat. It's the Dakshineshwar Kali temple from where you can take a baot to Belur Math. Secondly the pic you've put here of thetemple is the Dakshineshwar Kali temple which by no means is abandoned. I'm totally stunned by what you've written here.

  6. Hi Nivedita,

    The picture I've posted here is not that of Dakshineshwar kali temple. I have been there myself and I took this picture from the boat on the way to Belur Mutt. The man riding the boat told us that the temple in the picture I put up was abondoned. And coming to taking a boat from Kalighat, I think we took boat from there only. I dont remember much now since it's a long time ago.