Kolkata – Day 4

 

Day 4 was spent soaking up the spirit of Kolkata….the puchkas,the tram ride,the local train,the saree shopping(will do another post on that later),the Eden Garden,the Howrah bridge…..

After the tram ride

After the tram ride

The Howrah bridge

The Howrah bridge

On the local train

On the local train

 

At the historical Eden Garden

At the historical Eden Garden

kol 114Evening was spent in some saree shopping…

A heaven for saree lovers

A heaven for saree lovers

We wrapped up the day with a traditional Bengali dinner of bhaat(rice),Doi Macchh(curd fish) and railway station mutton curry.The food was authentic and delicious,the ambiance lovely and the music outstanding Rabindra Sangeet playing in the background. kol 103

Kolkata- Day 3

Day 3 began on a lazy note with all of us a little weary after two long days.We got up late and had nothing particular in mind when we set out to hail a cab.The first thing on mind was breakfast. After yesterdays English breakfast, I was looking forward to some bengali Radhaballabi which we found at K.C. Das on Esplanade.Though we had to wait awhile but it was worth it.They serve awesome “roshogullas” too.rosho

With our hunger satiated for the time being , we decided to take the kids to Nicco Park, the first amusement park in Kolkata.Needless to say,the gals had a whale of a time.nicnic7 nic1 nic2 nic4 nic5 nic6After all the fun and frolic,naturally hunger struck us again.The foodies that we are,we headed to another well known Mughlai joint in Park Street—Arsalaan.And the food did live up to the expectations.There is a long queue  even during weekdays and lunch hours.The Mutton Biryani is yum as well as also the Chicken  Stew and Rezala.Must visit for taste as well as easy on the pocket.

Next up was some shopping in New Market-which is the place to shop when in Kolkata.From septipins(safety pins) to shona(gold),you name it and its there.The market itself is a colonial building and the clock tower reminds one of an era bygone.

new1  new2new3newI could spend hours here but the poor kids were tired  so we had a dinner of the famous Kolkata Rolls and headed back .

I have been a bit lazy in posting my Kolkata diaries.Among the many odd reasons for not doing so is that Perk had a bout of chicken pox but more on that later.

Kolkata -Day 2

Day 2 in Kolkata saw us heading to Park Street for an English Breakfast at the legendary tearoom Flury’s.It was founded in 1927 by Mr and Mrs J Flury’s and introduced the city to Swiss and international delicacies.The place was very English and I saw it was completely packed at 9:30 in the morning.The place has an old world charm to it with a sense of timelessness and a relaxed atmosphere.The chandeliers,the waiters,the tea sets all add upto the charm of the place.We ordered creamed corn on toasts,a mutton puff and chicken patties.The mutton puff was out of the world,I can assure you.But all said and done…the price tags here are a bit overshot.kol 038

Our next stop was the Oxford Book Store,the second oldest book store in India, which is every reader’s delight.The girls and I had a great time going through our respective sections while Papa was busy finding his favourite music.The cherry on top- the store was having its annual discounts.There is an endless collection of books and a kids section which is also very well stocked.To add to all this there is a quaint cafe on the first floor where you can sip a cup of ‘cha’ or grab a bite as you sink into any random nooks with a book in your hand.The charm of the place lies in the randomly placed books and well created nooks and corners for reading.kol 043Our next stop was the Indian Museum right there in Park Street.As it was an extremely warm day,we wanted to spend the morning hours indoors.So the museum it was.And we were not disappointed at all.Although some sections were under renovation,Munch enjoyed her visit very much and kept asking questions and reading the informations everywhere.The museum itself is a very magnificent white building and is the oldest museum in India.It was established in 1814 and so it has actually completed 200 years!kol 050kol 049kol 048kol 047kol 061kol 055kol 051

The textile section

The textile section

It was an afternoon well spent and the walking around made us all feel hungry again…but more on that later as I have to rush and get ready for a party…see you on the other side.

 

Science City, Kolkata

If you are visiting Kolkata with kids, a visit to Science City is a must.It is the largest Science Center in the Indian Subcontinent under the National Council of Science Museums.It is a unique effort to bring everyone to love the laws of Science.Munch and Perk had a great time there too.They thoroughly loved the place and so did we.There is something there for everyone..

sci2 sci1The Evolution Park

It is a theme park covering 7 large walk through dioramas with robotic prehistoric animals and plants.It shows the history of evolution of life.

The entrance to the evolution park

The entrance to the evolution park

sci9The Dynamotion Hall

Here there are various exhibits and props for visitors to experience and use and understand the underlying principles of Science.It is actually learning with fun.sci5 sci6sci4The Space Odyssey

It comprises a Space Theatre which is like a planetarium and we enjoyed the screening of the film Greece. This place also has a 3D vision theatre, a Mirror magic zone and a Time Machine which provides a virtual experience of a space flight.The kids specially had a gala time with the magic mirrors.

dining with yourself

dining with yourself

Papa getting into the act

It was an amazing place to be in and I would recommend it to all those who visit Kolkata with your little ones…this is a must visit .It is a fun day out for the entire family.

Oh!Kolkata – Day 1

As I mentioned in the earlier post,we are back rejuvenated from our short trip to the “City of Joy” —Kolkata.One of the oldest cities of India and capital of the British Raj before they moved to Delhi..the city has a heart and soul unlike other metros.The pavements full of books,the innumerable music shops(some even now selling LPs or records),the intelligible chatter of people going past and the numerous eateries scattered all across the city speaks of the rich heritage and culture of the past.But sadly most of the colonial buildings are now in a sorry state of decay.

We were staying  centrally at a building aptly named “Hooghly View” on the eleventh floor which was ideal as it afforded a view of not only the Hooghly but also the famed Howrah Bridge,Victoria Memorial and Vidyasagar Setu from the bedroom window itself.

The girls were pretty excited on seeing the beautiful white marble building from the window and first thing in the morning wanted to visit it.So off we went in a cab and were at the gates of The Victoria at 9 am dot.The garden surrounding the Victoria were beautifully maintained but dotted with lovebirds hanging around on their way to college or work.We were lucky to be early as the place was comparitively less crowded at this hour than at any other time of the day.We spent half an hour taking in the beauty of the place and clicking pictures before we went inside the museum which opens for visitors at around 9:30 am.The museum has a vast gallery of paintings and one is not allowed to take pictures.One can go upto the second floor.

vic2kol 001kol 005kol 003vic7vic3vic4vic6After going around the museum, we took the eager kids on a baggi ride around Maidan.You have to really bargain with the owners here as they will charge you anything from 500 bucks for a ten minute ride.The hubby who is great at bargaining booked us one for 150 Rs and we were happily up and away.Copy (2) of kol 101

the elated girls

the elated girls

this was an afternoon well spent followed by lunch at Aminia in New Market which serves amazing biryanis and Moghlai food.The evening was spent shopping in New Market and drooling over the stuff on offer.We had a traditional bengali dinner the first night at Bhojohori Manna in Esplanade.The food was better than the ambience.Since I have never resided in Kolkata,I only had reccos on the net to go by.The place was pretty deserted,the staff casual but the prices reasonable and food authentic.

And we go on a break..

With the kids exams being over and the schools due to open only in the first week of April, we decided to take a short break and come back before the declaration of the results.We decided to make a short trip to the City of Joy…. yes to Kolkata.

I’ve been to Kolkata many times when I was a kid and it has been one of my least favourite metro. Coming from a small town ,I hated the crows…be it on the roads,the trains,the shops,the restaurants…you name it and there were hordes and hordes of people everywhere .Secondly the weather in summers used to be really humid and bad.(I usually went there with my parents during the summer hols).Delhi and Mumbai are also crowded cities but somehow I preferred them to Kolkata.

But this time when I decided to show my kids The City Of Joy..the heart of Bengal and what our culture is all about,this trip to Kolkata had a different meaning altogether.I saw the city with a different perspective this time.My husband and kids were literally going there for the first time and I had so much to tell them and brag about things I knew.They hung on every word I said.They went according to the itinerary  I had prepared for them.They ate at places I recommended ,they bought music I chose and books I recommended.

I would take you through my five days in Kolkata in the subsequent posts.

Of winters and Melas

The weekend was super busy and the week’s going to be busier with a lot of events coming up…the big event for which the Hubby’s been preparing comes midweek and the day after that is the Annual Sports Day in my school.That’s not all that kept me away from blogging.The weather suddenly changed here.It rained over the weekend and the connectivity was so poor that I was unable to blog over the last two days.I hope to compensate sometime later.

Anyways, one of the major charms of winters are that they are the time for a lot of ‘melas’ or fairs be it handicraft or food fests or cultural fests or all under one roof.I love attending melas.They are full of life and colour- something for everyone.birth 106 That’s exactly where we were this Sunday afternoon and we had a great time.We shopped and feasted on “litti chokha”(the local delicacy),”pyaz kachoris”,”jalebis”,candies,popcorns and lots more.I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Visit to The Taj

On our way back from Delhi,we took a break at Agra to relive my visit to one of the most valued Seven Wonders of the World and to live it again through Munch ,who had accompanied us on this road trip.(Perk having abandoned us to go back home with Nani and dadu by train).And I lived to admire my own decision to do so,, as going to a place which is the greatest monument of love till date ,with my hubby ,was something different.

Here is a photologue…

the West gate where we entered

the West gate where we entered

 First view from inside the gate

First view from inside the gate

The Majestic Taj

The Majestic Taj

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From inside the monument-the vies of the mosque for the ladies.

From inside the monument-the vies of the mosque for the ladies.

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Munch and Papa-It was terribly hot and we were barefoot

Munch and Papa-It was terribly hot and we were barefoot

A journey into Purani Dilli

In spite  of my innumerable visits to Delhi,I had never had the chance to walk down the streets of Old Delhi.I had seen them pictures in magazines and watched many a travel and food channels showing the age-old “Parathe-waali galis”.Being the foodies that we are,I coaxed my husband to do this trip with me despite the heat and the humidity This time I was determined We decided not to take our car but the Delhi Metro we got off at Chawri Bazaar metro station just before Chandni Chowk.As it was almost lunch time when we reached there,we decided  we were going to start our journey into puraani dilli by having our lunch at the Karim’s.The place is famous for its Biryanis and kababs and Mutton Qorma and Sheermaal.If you are a true non vegetarian,this is one place in delhi which is not to be missed.Right next to the Jama Masjid,the restaurant is now a chain all over Delhi but who can beat the taste of the original although  the place issaid to be crowded on Fridays, we got a place easily and Yes the restaurant is air conditioned.

Thereafter we took a rickshaw  to Chandni Chowk and straight into the famous Paranthe waali gali.Too full for the parathas, we still had space for some lovely looking Kulfi Faluda. And we bought some laddoos ,karachi halwa,samose and kachoris for later.I tried to imagine Kajol staying in Chandni Chowk in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.The noise,the crowds,the sweat and the rising smoke from the constant frying of parathas filled my nostrils.This was Delhi as it must have been years ago minus the skyscrapers,the innumerable vehicles on roads,the Metros and the Malls.After getting a whole variety of parathas packed for dinner,we took the metro back home as the girls not being used to walking through narrow lanes were getting all restless.Hubby and I winked at each other and with an understanding nod promised to return again without the kids.We knew that this place still had lots to be explored.The magic of puraani Dilli still lingers on with me….

Yes of course,I have some pics for you…

Mom,dad,hubby and Munch at Karim's

Mom,dad,hubby and Munch at Karim’s

Yummy Biryanis in pots
Yummy Biryanis in pots

Rumalis and Naans

Rumalis and Naans

The Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid

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The Goodies

The Goodies

More goodies

More goodies

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Kinaari Bazaar

Kinaari Bazaar

 

Mawlynnong-Asia’s cleanest village Part-2

Continued from Part 1

Ten minutes from the living root bridge,we eventually reached our destination….and lo and behold….saw this imposing signboard which read..

maw11As soon as we entered the village,there was a feeling of calm,peace and tranquility.Only thing you noticed were the sights and sounds of nature.I immediately fell in love with the place.

At the parking,the signboard declared “Welcome to Mawlynnong – God’s own Garden”.And it surely looked like one beautiful Fairyland ,just out of a picture book.Mawlynnong in Khasi,incidentally stands for, a cavity on the Rock.

maw13The village has a Total of 94 households.The villagers make their livelihood out of agriculture and selling broomsticks,and most recently by tourism,which has flourished after the village received the status of the cleanest village in Asia.There is 100% literacy in the village.Though, the villagers have to travel for atleast two hours to get to the nearest market,they have their own school,church and a small grocery shop.The villagers have taken it upon themselves to keep the village absolutely spick and span.There is no litter to be found everywhere.In fact,I saw young girls weeding the grass in front of their homes.There were cone-shaped bamboo dustbins called Thapa in every nook and corner.

maw16maw15What added to the uniqueness of this already unique village was the fact that it was also blessed to have been richly endowed by Nature.The whole place was a riot of colours ,As far as one could see,there were trees,bushes and flowers.All well maintained,not growing wildly.

maw17maw28Although the village might be cut off from modern amenities with our mobile phones showing no signals at all,the residents were following all the modern methods advocated in a modern world to save the Earth.There were compost pits where all the garbage was dumped regularly and rain water harvesting was also being practised.

maw31 It was almost lunch time,but we wanted to see more before we could settle down for lunch.The locals directed us to the Sky view point and the Machaan.When we heard of these,we were not prepared for what we witnessed.

maw18Moving up,passing quaintly built bridges and gurgling water,we came to the Machaan which was an eating joint.

maw32Here we bought tickets worth Rs 10 each to go up this mesmerisingly built bamboo structure.It is the brain child of the locals and according to them ,not a single nail has been used in making this.Surprised?It has been tied up with cane ropes and has the support of five or six huge trees and is nearly 80 feet high.I was still meditating whether to go up the tree house or not when I saw Munch already half way up and had to go on.Perk was safely tucked in Papa’s arms.

Munch climbing up the tree house

Munch climbing up the tree house

maw36maw37I was quite out of breath and scared,so was able to take fewer pictures than would have liked to but the experience was amazing.By the time we reached the highest point we were all panting but excited to reach the top.But once you reach there,the view is just breathtakingly beautiful.It is even more special because one can see Bangladesh clearly in the distance .

On top of the tree house - Bangladesh beyond

On top of the tree house – Bangladesh beyond

This particular adventure further aroused our hunger and we settled down for lunch at one of the many households offering tea and lunch to the visitors,The menu was simple but tasty, rice,dal,chicken curry and a mixed vegetable served by a smiling hostess.She was also kind enough to ake chappatis for a finicky Munch who wouldn’t have rice.The food was clean and fresh.I requested if I could get a peek into the kitchen and was surprised to find that to be absolutely spic and span as well.

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Resting a while

Resting a while

After lunch,we were ready to leave as we had a long drive back to Shillong but not before witnessing another natural phenomenon just outside the village.A huge boulder balancing on a smaller rock.

maw26 maw25With this we came to the end of another of our immemorable trips to the North East.The images of this village will remain etched in my mind forever.