Tourist Spots

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As you know, we discuss Calcutta Hotspots on this blog. Well, we just got 1000s of hotspots. Any guess?

Ok, let me tell you the open secret 🙂 I am talking about the thousands of Durga Puja pandals that have sprung up on the roads, in the parks, in the various complexes and even private houses. These are heavily decorated, themed and house the Goddess supreme, Ma Durga who is always reminding us the good always wins over evil.

Almost everyone who lives in Calcutta or is here on a vacation, is out on the streets, hopping from one pandal to the next, appreciating the themed decoration and the blessings that Mother is showering on the devotees. Children are busy buying toys and street hawkers and roadside stalls are serving fast food for the hungry souls who have walked miles and miles forgetting the tiredness in the excitement.

The TV channels are vying with each other to cover the largest number of Pujas, and conferring a variety of awards to the deserving and the smart alecs are cashing in by running in SMS contests.

Do you miss the Puja fun and frolic? The community food, dressing up and roaming the streets all night, the adda and sneaking a look at that flame? Share your feelings with us and lighten up. We will pass these on to Ma Durga.

People aren’t wrong when they say Kolkata is a city of paradoxes.

I am here with another place filled with fun, thrill and life! Yes, it’s none other than AQUATICA, the water park.

I am sure the thrills and spills of Aquatica will make you go mad! With artificial waves buffeting you from all sides, tornadoes and dance floors, all ready to whip up a wet dream, Aquatica is the ultimate cool hangout.

This wonderful amusement Park has a bewildering variety of water sports that attracts the youth brigade. The park easily accommodates 5,000 people.

As you approach Aquatica, from a distance you can see the magnificent archway with flags fluttering on top, literally welcoming you to come and visit this fabulous place. Once inside, a whole new watery world opens up in front of your eyes, especially the artificially created waves which seem to be a perfect reproduction of its natural counterpart.

An artificial river meanders through the park. Visitors are allowed to swim and wade in it. Aquatica features great rides and adventures such as the Black Hole, where one enters a dark hole from a great height and emerges at the ground level.

You might be a little worried if you don’t know swimming. Not to worry! The water level at Aquatica is very manageable and is just 5 feet deep. As far as hygiene is concerned, the water is recycled every hour.

The main attraction of Aquatica is Aqua Wave Pool because of its changing waves. It is a unique spot with the ambience of a leach sans the sun on a sweltering summer day. A plethora of rides are available and for the quintessential water sport enthusiast, there is rafting and the mesmerizing Cyclone Pool where one can actually feel the Tornado. Its scary but at the end of the day, it’s a whole lot of fun really.

And now the best part!

Discotheque! That too on water! Fountains springing from the small dance floor. You have the option of dancing your blues away at Aqua Dance with foot tapping numbers being played on the background.

Reading all these and still not feeling like getting wet in the fun-filled water of Aquatica! Not to worry again.

For you, who simply want to chill off without much activity, there is an artificially created river that meanders through the sprawling 8 acres water park. You can hire a beach chair and simply laze off with a good book.

Within the park there is the ‘Aqua Caffe, a restaurant. It serves pure vegetarian food. A good place to fill in your bellies!

Fun is not yet over!

Few kilometers away from Aquatica, Nicco Park, the Disneyland of Kolkata, another place full of fun awaits for you! Adjacent to the park is the Nalban Boating Complex, the unique aquatic joint with its placid waters and rows of shady trees under the vast expanse of the welkin above, offering a close-to-nature experience with its greenery, flowers and the cool breezes blowing across the wetlands. Opposite the Salt Lake stadium is the Subhash Sarovar (lake), which is not very well maintained but has the potential to become a nice tourist spot. Swabhumi Heritage Park is just round the corner from where you can buy handicraft items for souvenirs. The Science City, which is Kolkata’s version of Disney Land, too is just a stone’s throw away and you will be spell bound by the magical appeal of the make belief Jurassic Park that has replicas of Dinosaurs. The Ropeway too is a great way to enjoy for the intrepid thrill-seeker.

What say? Wanna live the fun and masti in the air?

Well reaching there is very convenient. It is at a distance of 15 minutes drive from Nicco Park. Local buses, mini buses and metered taxis are readily available from various parts of the city. One can also avail shared auto rickshaws. Train services are available on the Sealdah route. In case of travel by train, your getaway station is Dum Dum.  If you are traveling by suburban trains, be careful since pick pocketing is rampant.

I am sure, your visits to Aquatica will not only provide you a cool atmosphere, surely will also make your Kolkata tour an unforgettable experience in your lifetime.

 

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Been to Kolkata and not been to the oldest and the largest museum on the country! Seems a little unfair! Isn’t it?

I am talking about none other than the INDIAN MUSEUM.

The Indian Museum in Kolkata, built in 1875 is by far India’s biggest museum and is ranked as one of the best in Asia. You will be spell bound by the sheer variety of collections ranging from a room full of meteorites to fossils and skeletons of prehistoric animals. The museum also showcases rare paintings and artifacts of ancient and modern India.

The Egyptian mummy draws hordes of visitors. As far as historical antiquities are concerned the museum is a virtual treasure trove with a splendid collection of 50,000 coins and many Buddhist artifacts, which keep the visitors spell bound.

One of the prized possessions of the Indian Museum is the ash remains of Lord Buddha.

The Museum is an impressive building built in the Italian style of architecture. The Museum has over 60 galleries divided into six main sectors as – Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geology, Industry and Zoology.

Entering the Museum, one first comes across the history of evolution of man. From the pre-historic days, the evolution of man has been chronologically exhibited here. Several antics of Mohenjodaro and Harappa are also preserved here. There are collections of coins, dresses and stones. In a nutshell, the museum in Calcutta reveals the life and culture of Indians from the hoary antiquity till date.

The museum is a must visit site especially for children as they learn about the evolution of man from pre-historic times.

It is situated in Chowringhee on Jawaharlal Nehru Road. One can board the underground Metro Rail and disembark at Park street station. Local buses and taxis are available from various points of the city.

Don’t forget to drop in either of Shahid Minar, BBD Bagh, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, Birla Planetarium and not to forget Victoria Memorial when you are visiting Indian Museum. All these places are worth your time!

But ya don’t make your plans to be at Indian Museum on after 5 pm and before 10 am as the museum is closed then. And even watch out whether if it’s a Monday ‘coz that’s a holiday for them!

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Been to Belur Math?

If no then you definitely missed out something, which is not worth missing!

Well, to be a little more specific or let us just say informative, Belur Math is a religious abbey located in the neighborhood of Belur in the city of Howrah, West Bengal, India.

Belur Math, an important place of pilgrimage includes the main monastery, several temples, is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. It is a tranquil monument with lush lawns and gardens built by Swami Vivekananda on the banks of the Hooghly. The mission welcomes visitors from all over the world and provides one of the most peaceful prayer halls in Kolkata.

Swami Vivekananda who was a disciple of Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa founded Ramakrishna Mission in loving memory of his Guru Ramakrishna Paramhansa who preached unity of all religions, in 1897. Belur Math, the most enchanting temple in Belur, was constructed on 14th January 1938. Swami Vivekananda was the main inspiration behind its construction. This mission has branches all over the country. The architecture of the structure amalgamates within itself a unique specimen of the fraternity. From any angle you look at it the structure is like a temple, a mosque or a church depending on the way you look at it.

In case you don’t know, Belur Math is very famous for KUNWARI PUJA, which takes place on the eighth day or as we say Ashtami of Durga Puja. Few lakhs of people visit then. But don’t worry; in case you are not able to be there, you can watch the direct telecast of the puja on your television.

As Belur Math is located on the western bank of the Hooghly River in Howrah district near Dakshineshwar, be there in the evening or early morning and get the feel of nature! Stand on the banks of the Hooghly River, and just watch the flow of the river, just feel the sunlight on you, see the water shine and sparkle when sunlight falls on it and just feel the cool breeze around you. It’s a nice picnic spot as well!

Reaching Belur Math is not at all difficult. You just need to take a boat from Dakhshineshwar Temple, the abode of Goddess Kali in Kolkata and within 15 minutes you reach Belur and from there it is 5 minutes walk to the Math. Private taxi, mini buses are also available at your service from various parts of the city.

Now you know, why I said that visiting Belur Math is not worth missing!

Have you been to the DISNEYLAND of West Bengal?

Joining the modern stream of theme parks, Nico Park is the Disneyland for Kolkattans with its various bewildering adventure rides. It is popularly known as Jheel Meel and is one of the biggest amusement parks in the country and has innovative entertainment for all age group.

Located in the up market Salt Lake, in a sprawling 40 acre piece of land, with a variety of unusual games and rides, this is a must see site for every visitor to Kolkata! The park is open to you from 10.00 A.M to 8.00 P.M everyday during the winter and 11.00 A.M to 9.00 P.m everyday during the rest of the year.

This amusement park offers wholesome fun for children as well as adults and draws crowds from suburban Kolkata especially on the weekends. It is a wonderful place for picnics or freaking out with your friends. You can spend the entire day at this idyllic amusement park of Kolkata.

And if you are a Nature Lover, then it is a feast for your eyes. The nature lover would simply love to recline on the bed of soft green grass and watch the clear and mackerel sky above. There is an exquisite Rose Garden and a large Food Park that sells mouth-watering North Indian, Bengali, South Indian and Chinese fast food. The in-house restaurant at Nicco Park has a highly evolved culinary menu and the stupendous variety of dishes available will make you spoilt for a choice.

There are a wide variety of rides to choose from, with the Toy Train, Cable Car, Tilt-a-Whirl, Water Chute, Water Coaster, Flying Saucer, and Moonraker, cave ride being the popular ones. The Roller Coaster Ride is the latest addition and is my favorite J. The Cable Car is an out and out favorite with the young ones. So are the Striking Cars and Pirate Cars. When it comes to adventure, there is the adrenalin pumping stuff viz-a-viz the Water Coaster and the one and only Flying Saucer.

Another feather in the cap of Nicco Park’s fun filled activities – The Water Park. The ambience: tropical setting with swaying palm trees. A beach environment that is artificially recreated with sprinkling of sand on the surface. The highlight of the Water Park is the gigantic 40 feet waterfall. To attract the yuppie crowds, an exclusive rain dance floor is also on.

Adjacent to the park is the Nalban Boating Complex, the unique aquatic joint with its placid waters and rows of shady trees under the vast expanse of the welkin above, offering a close-to-nature experience with its greenery, flowers and the cool breezes blowing across the wetlands. Opposite the Salt Lake stadium is the Subhash Sarovar (lake), which is not very well maintained but has the potential to become a nice tourist spot. Swabhumi heritage park is just round the corner from where you can buy handicraft items for souvenirs. The Science City, which is Kolkata’s version of Disney Land too is just a stone’s throw away and you will be spell-bound by the magical appeal of the make believe Jurassic Park which has replicas of Dinosaurs. The Ropeway too is a great way to enjoy for the intrepid thrill-seeker. Few Kilometers away is another fun filled place awaiting you, Aquatica, the water park.  

Now I am sure, reading all this you must be wondering how to reach Nicco Park? Well reaching there is very convenient. Local buses, mini buses and metered taxis are readily available from various parts of the city. One can also avail shared auto rickshaws. Train services are available on the Sealdah route. In case of travel by train, your getaway station is Bidhan Nagar.

So, here is one more worthy reason why you should include Kolkata in your itinerary.

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SCIENCE CITY: the prodigy of science, communication and environment is the first and only institution of its kind in India.

The Science City situated in the eastern part of Kolkata is a great gateway for young and old alike with lots of fun and education. It is another addition to Kolkata’s long list of tourist attractions.

This architectural showpiece has more than just its external grandeur. Once you enter the sylvan surroundings of the Science City, you are greeted with beautifully landscaped expanse interspersed with equally gorgeous flower gardens. A showcase of scientific applications, this is the first and the only institution of its kind in India. The different sections of the complex include the Space odyssey, Dynamotion, Life Science Corners, Science Park, Toy Train & Ropeway, the Dinosaurs Complex and others.

Set amidst trees and lawns, here one finds science out of doors and alive! For instance, consider the Quick Sand phenomenon wherein you will experience the ground beneath your shift, just like an earthquake.

The main attraction of Science City is the Space Theatre – a circular auditorium with a dome-shaped ceiling, which, from the interior, looks like an inverted bowl. Another major attraction is the musical fountain, where colored jets of water dance to the sound of music.

You encounter the aquatic world of fishes as well as the mysterious world of insects. As far as the aqua world is concerned, a bewildering variety of aquariums showcase some of the world’s most exotic fishes in a near natural environment.

It is a brainchild of the National Council of Science Museums. It’s ideal for the tourist interested in the nuts and bolts of science. If you’re in the mood for a simulated earthquake or a tornado, drop by here. Also worth a watching is the collection of live birds and insects, and dinosaur models. A great place for children, indeed!

As far as food and beverages are concerned, there are quality Food Courts located at strategic points. The Science City is a remarkable place for budding scientists as it is with the elderly lot. A whole new world of science and technology opens up in front of your naked eyes; Memories of which linger on for a lifetime!

Ideally, Science City is a good whole-day-affair kind of a destination and is much preferred by stressed out Kolkatans who come here to rejuvenate with family and children.

Now I am sure, reading all this you must be wondering how to reach this marvel fun and education? Well reaching there is very convenient. Local buses, mini buses and metered taxis are readily available from various parts of the city. One can also avail shared auto rickshaws. Train services are available on the Sealdah route. In case of travel by train, your getaway station is Bidhan Nagar. From Bidhan Nagar station, there are shared auto rickshaws as well as metered taxis.

If you are at Science City, don’t miss your visit at Nicco Park, an amusement park. Adjacent to the park is the Nalban Boating Complex, the unique aquatic joint with its placid waters and rows of shady trees under the vast expanse of the welkin above, offering a close-to-nature experience with its greenery, flowers and the cool breezes blowing across the wetlands. Opposite the Salt Lake stadium is the Subhash Sarovar (lake), which is not very well maintained but has the potential to become a nice tourist spot.  Swabhumi Heritage Park is just round the corner and is an excellent place to buy handicraft items for souvenirs.

Have a good day and don’t forget to tell me about your visit to this unique place!

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Kolkata: one of the busiest cities of India and traveling in Kolkata is a big deal and with the automobile industry witnessing a growth rate of around 19%, cars are becoming cheaper day-by-day. Plus the easy availability of bank loans and different schemes, it has become very easy for even middle class families to own a car.

End result: traffic jam, accidents etc. In the mean time it has become very difficult for people like me who use public conveyance to travel. You can hardly think of being on time. It takes more than an hour to reach from one place to the other. When traveling seems so difficult; METRO RAILWAY comes as a sigh of relief.

Metro Railway, Kolkata is the first underground Metro Railway in India. It extends from Dum-Dum near Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport, Kolkata to Tollygunj, the busy north south axis of Kolkata over a length of 16.45 Kms. There are Seventeen Stations en route at about one km apart.

You can reach from the extreme south zone to the north zone in flat 30 minutes! Isn’t that amazing? Plus the no pollution! And the best part is, it is very cost effective. 

You don’t even need to panic if you miss a train. Metro rails run at regular time intervals with the minimum being 7 minutes and the maximum being 15 minutes. The fair is as low as Rs 4 and high as Rs 8.

Isn’t that a very cheap of traveling throughout the city?

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“Nalban” as the name suggests – is lakes and creeks (nal) fringed by groves (ban). It is a beautiful picnic spot for families, who would like to spend few hours in the lush greenery and placid lake, away from the busy city. It is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Its unpolluted environment offers a respite and soothes the visitors.

Nalban is a serene watery world where the centerpiece of attraction is the giant lake. The lake water is crystal clear sans any pollution. On a clear sunny day, you can even see your mirror image reflecting on the sill waters of the magnificent lake. It has various kinds of boating facilities like paddle boats, shikaras and rowing boats. A unique added attraction is the newly installed hovercraft.

I am sure, after a long session of boating, you might want to relax and give your body a much-needed rest. The floating huts are ideal stopovers. What is more, discreet privacy is guaranteed.

The sight of lovelorn couples sitting shoulder to shoulder and mincing sweet nothings is an everyday occurrence at the Nalban Boating Complex. The tastefully decorated Shikaras are the very epitome of luxury. Nalban Boating Complex is literally the paradise of the young hearts burning with passion and eager to enjoy the beauties and bounties of nature in private.

It is considered the perfect haunt for romancing in Kolkata especially when there is so little time to spare amidst packed schedules and a paucity of fund does not permit the average person to indulge in revelry and be extravagant.

Apart from a plethora of boating options, you can also indulge in on-shore fun. There are tastefully done up cottages where you can truly indulge in gastronomic delights. Chinese, Mughlai and Continental dishes are available at the multi-cuisine restaurant, which is always buzzing with activity.

Now I am sure, reading all this you must be wondering how to reach this beautiful place? Well reaching there is very convenient. Local buses, mini buses and metered taxis are readily available from various parts of the city. One can also avail shared auto rickshaws. Train services are available on the Sealdah route. In case of travel by train, your getaway station is Bidhan Nagar.

If you are exploring Nalban Boating Complex, don’t miss your visit at Nicco Park, an amusement park. For outdoor entertainment Swabhumi heritage park is just round the corner and is an excellent place to buy handicraft items for souvenirs. The Science City, which is Kolkata’s another version of Disney Land too is just a stone’s throw away and you will be spell bound by the magical appeal of the make belief Jurassic Park which has replicas of Dinosaurs. The Ropeway too is a great way to enjoy for the intrepid thrill seeker. Few Kilometers away is another fun filled place awaiting you, Aquatica, the water park.

Definitely it will make your tour to Kolkata an unforgettable experience!

Have a nice stay at Kolkata!

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Ma Kali is the almighty and the absolute being of Calcuttans and Dakshineshwar, a prominent temple of Goddess Kali.

Even I am regular worshipper of Ma Kali but I generally used to go to Kalighat Temple. However this new year I got the chance to be at the Dakshineshwar temple.

Despite the movement of so many people, the place seemed to be very peaceful and serene. When I entered the main temple complex, on the right side there was a covered lane sort of place where there were number of shops from where I bought flowers and prasad for  my puja. If you are carrying some stuff you can easily keep them under the shopkeeper’s custody from where you buy, as for that matter I also did that.

Then when I came out of the place, I found that there is a very nice arrangement for us to deposit our shoes, as Hindus don’t go to temples or mandirs with the shoes on. The boy out there charges Re 1 for a pair of shoes we keep.

And now when finally I was done with all the preparations I went inside in the temple. I had to stand in a long queue as it was the first day of the year but generally if you go on normal days, you don’t get such huge crowd.

Note: Tuesdays and Saturdays are always an exception – don’t expect thin crowds on those days.

But trust me the waiting in the queue was worth it. After standing for about 1 hour I finally got Ma Kali’s darshan and I did my puja.

Then as I came down, right opposite to the temple of Ma Kali, there are twelve individual temples of Lord Shiva. That is why, these temples are called “Barah Mahadev“. One by one I visited all of them.

Now after having done with my puja, as I was leaving I noticed that there is Ganga Ghat right inside the temple campus and I went there and saw people having bath out there. The water was so pure and cold; I went down a few stairs to feel the water and washed my feet and face. It felt so nice!

Finally I came out of the temple having a feeling which was so pure and new.

Some facts about the temple: Rani Rashmoni is the person who thought about the temple and Ramkrishna Ji was the priest of the mandir then. The bedroom of Shri Ramkrishna Ji is still there in the temple boundary.

Now reading all these you must be worrying how to go to Dakshineshwar? Well reaching the  Dakshineshwar mandir is quite easy and convenient. You can come directly by a train from sealdah station or by boat from Belur. There are a lot of buses from Esplanade also.

One more thing: Don’t forget to visit Belur Math, the tranquil monument with lush lawns and gardens which as said earlier will be just a boat ride away from Dakhshineshwar.

One more thing which I forgot to add: when you go via road, don’t forget to have a look at the mandir from Bally Bridge; the view is amazing!