Monday, 2 May 2011

Calcutta

Well, again the early bird catches the worm, I was up at 6am and out the door as soon as I had my morning chores and cup of tea done. This morning I walked to the river side and headed south to the district where they manufacture straw dolls, mostly Hindu God idols, for temples and various processions. There was also pottery being made. I could see a multitude of shops and they had dolls in various stages of completion. First the torso of the doll is made of straw, then it is covered with mud. After the mud is dry more is applied to make the features. Finally the doll gets a wig, it is painted and decorated.

Krishna doll


Durga doll

Locals at morning wash

Local train line to the burbs

Unfinished dolls

Unfinished dolls

Clay being brought to a shop


I could also see men sitting in front of a small box at regular intervals. After awhile I realized they were shavers, other men sat down on the box and they got shaved. As I also got a decent stubble I decided to have a go at it.  It cost me 20 rupees, the view was of the river and the air was fresh. Once I continued down south I came to a ferry stop and I ventured on the pontoon to embark the ferry. The current was pretty strong, maybe 3 knots or more. After some time the ferry came and made to and I stepped on with the other passengers.

River view

Howrah train station

Local river ferry

Locals at morning wash

The ferry ride was nice, air was cool despite the ferry was fully loaded the Indian way. I managed to get an open air space so I could shoot some photos. Enroute I could see the whole Calcutta riverside until we arrived the other side at Howrah train station. I got off there and walked to look at the station, it is massive. Ogled it for awhile and then I made my way to the Howrah bridge and started walking over it back to the old town.

The flower market

Police bikes

Shops properly closed, each door with 5 or more padlocks

After the bridge I passed by the local flower market, it was huge as well. After that there were some industrial shop buildings and I came to the township of colonial Calcutta. I walked around and saw Shipping Building, Tobacco House, Insurance building, GPO and Writer's House (where the Chief Minister of Bengal resides), etc. etc. Some buildings like the Shipping building (only the facade remains) were in a quite dilapidated condition but I could see signs that there was going to be some reconstruction or refurbishment.

Tram

General post office



Writers House

Allahabad Bank

After awhile I think I ended up in Chinatown as I was passing through Sun Yat-Sen street and saw quite a few yellow faces and trading shops peddling Chinese wares. Next to Chinatown I there was a Muslim market that I walked through. At this point I decided I had enough of walking for awhile and needed somewhere to put down my feet.

The Shipping Building

State Bank of India

Entrance to Standard Life Assurance compound

Standard Life Assurance building

So, after an exhausting morning I went to the Esplanade to have some lunch at the Ashoka restaurant. Sat there for a couple hours enjoying my lunch and a few cold Kingfishers while contemplating my next move. I decided to go to the Marble Palace as my last feat of the day, so I paid my tab and got into taxi. The Marble Palace is a privately owned house by the descendants of a wealthy Indian merchant, Raja Rajendra Mullick, who was nuts about art and marble.

Raja Rajendra Mullick Bahadur

The fountain in the garden

Marble Palace

I went into the yard and was told by the guard that the residence is private and I need a permit from the tourism bureau to get in (which I did not have), but for a small fee he could let me go and look inside. Oh well, said and done I handed over his tea money and went into the building. I was told no photography allowed so my camera stayed in my pocket. The house was really stunning, a real palace on two floors. Marble patterned floors and art everywhere, paintings and statues mostly. The floors, though splendid with the marble patterns, were in dire need of restoration. There was so much to see in the house that I could not concentrate and the day was coming to an end so I exited the compound and headed for Shyambazar by Metro.

The Thalassaemia Society of India neighboring Marble Palace

Sign and gatepost 

Once at Priyak Mitra Street I refreshed myself and took a small rest after which I headed out again and walked around Shyambazaar and Sovabazar looking at the local life for a couple of hours. It was already dark so it was not that interesting so I got back soon and retired for the night as I was leaving early next morning.

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