Kolkata – Photos with Narration – Famous Sights

Still widely known as Calcutta, the city was renamed a few years ago to the more authentic Kolkata. Many cities in India have recently been renamed to remove British naming legacies, and others are still considering name changes.

Kolkata was particularly awkward with regards to this movement to reclaim Indian names because many streets, parks, squares, and areas have been recently renamed. Many people use the old while many others use the new names. Probably most people use a combination of old and new incarnations. Three maps I was using, one on paper and two online, were entirely differently labelled with no coherence to using all original names or all the newest changes, each had a random mishmash of old and new label usage. Mostly this was just a problem when asking for help finding an address, as I rarely saw any road signs anyway. Signs at intersections indicating street names were very rare. Fortunately, the central area of Kolkata is smallish and easy to navigate with many remarkable landmarks to find oneself on a map.

It seemed to me that Kolkata showed much more British influence than other places I visited in India. Kolkata has long been a city with higher education, and it was suggested to me that the British chose to make this city a business centre due to the availability of professionally-trained staff. More than 100,000 Europeans lived and worked in Kolkata by 1773. It had been chosen as the headquarters base for the East India Company in 1686. With a current population estimated at 8 million and metropolitan area of 15 million, it was surprisingly easy to get around the main central areas.

The home where I stayed was part of the British legacy. Grandfather was a civil servant for the British and the family lived in a Western-style home of the era that was appropriate for entertaining English guests. Oversized proportions for today’s standards, it is the sole remaining home in the neighborhood now dominated by apartment complexes.

20130305-103624.jpgVictoria Memorial in Central Kolkata. The following photos also taken around this property.

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20130305-103951.jpgDouble barbed-wire fencing and armed military with a running truck (it was running both times I walked past on two different days) stationed outside the main entrance of Victoria Memorial. Is this museum under constant threat of terrorism? Or do they protect from the risk of someone avoiding the newish 4Rs entry fee (8 cents)?

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20130305-105402.jpgGovernment buildings.

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20130305-105554.jpgThese yellow taxis have continued to be in production for more than fifty years up to present day. They are certainly a common and famous sight in Kolkata.

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20130305-110112.jpgCrossing Howrah Bridge. Built during WWII to transport military traffic, today it conveys approximately 80,000 vehicles and over 1 million pedestrians every day.

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20130305-110623.jpgHowrah Station, one of India’s large railway hubs.

20130305-110955.jpgAlthough not a famous sight, I thought my readers might find interesting some photos of the colonial home where I stayed.

20130305-111135.jpgThis view from my balcony shows just how unique this relic has become. The area had once been populated by private detached residences.

20130305-111322.jpgLooking out to my balcony.

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20130305-111511.jpgEveryday upon arriving home the uniformed security made me wait while detaining the dangerous Romeo, a guard dog from whom I needed protection. Then I would go up to my room, open the doors to my balcony, then open the doors from the balcony to the stairway. Two minutes later the dangerous Romeo would come for his ear rub.

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20130305-112307.jpgSeemingly incongruous electrics viewable just inside the front door.

20130305-112516.jpgThe stairway, like the rest of the home, doubled as a gallery.

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I hope you have enjoyed my photos of Kolkata. If you travel India, do try to include this city in your itinerary. If you like my blog, please share it with your friends. Click on Facebook to share a link to this page. You can also follow me by email, click on “follow” at the bottom right and enter your email. You will get an email with a link when I make a new post. You can unfollow easily at any time. Thanks for visiting! Darren

Exploring Calcutta, India (Now Kolkata)

Calcutta became a city known to the world due to the high-profile work of Mother Teresa. Her good deeds started when she saw opportunity where others did not. She started asking restaurants to save the leftover food that diners left on their plates. This food she distributed to the hungry rather than letting it go to waste.

The Roman Catholic Church saw this marketing opportunity, a new face for the church, and with their media blitz her charities grew to great proportions as donations poured in from around the world.

Today, Kolkata is still a city where middle-class citizens often need to step-over sidewalk dwellers as they make their way through this diverse demography. Even on the middle-class street where I had my homestay in a Colonial Mansion tucked into apartment complexes, outside a man living in a makeshift shack irons clothing for a pittance, haircuts are given street-side for 10 cents a cut ($4 for me, western hair being forty-times more difficult, I didn’t have one, was just curious what my price would be.). Chai served in disposable pottery mugs for 10 cents. Neighbours in cars honking at their gates for their security to let them in without delay, while around the corner some of the runners pulling richshaws are barefoot.

The variety of life going on within one block is hard to fathom. And despite the noise, the crowds, and the busyness of the streets, I found the people of Kolkata to be overall friendly and curious. It is quintessential India.20130304-100026.jpgInside my yellow taxi from the airport the driver had a colourful display of Hindu artefacts lit with flashing Christmas lights. (I suppose in this context I should say, flashing Hindu lights. Everything we see is so much through interpretation of our experience.)20130304-100511.jpgThese yellow taxis have been iconic of Kolkata for decades. They are still being made without modification from their original design.20130304-100927.jpgA commercial sidewalk kitchen. I guess there may be different standards for health and safety.20130304-101019.jpgEverywhere, road-side businesses add to the life and character of the streets.20130304-101203.jpgLooking up, there are many beautiful trees throughout most of the city.20130304-101303.jpgThis was gross. Live chickens on the sidewalk waiting to be freshly sold. So that they can’t run away, their legs have been snapped.20130304-101535.jpg20130304-101629.jpgThe beginnings of a wedding arch.20130304-101705.jpg20130304-101720.jpgThis was the only runner I saw wearing runners/sneakers. If they were not barefoot, they somehow ran with flip-flops.20130304-102000.jpgThere’s always something to step over. Don’t be texting while walking in India!20130304-102135.jpgClose-up of a cool building with a playful, descriptive name.20130304-102229.jpg20130304-102255.jpgSidewalk fishmongers20130304-102336.jpgAh, cute little sheeps.20130304-102453.jpg20130304-102509.jpgKolkata also has wires.20130304-102610.jpgThis is about $200 a month.20130304-102754.jpgI had to duck these wires, they were at neck level across the sidewalk. (In case you’re wondering, many young people are near my height, which is 6’1″.)20130304-102946.jpg20130304-103035.jpg20130304-103053.jpg20130304-103114.jpg20130304-103217.jpgMost of the buses looked like little miracles. (That they could possibly run.)20130304-103322.jpgThis bus is not new.20130304-103414.jpg20130304-103436.jpg20130304-103509.jpgThis sign made me laugh. For several minutes. They could post this on every corner and I figure it would be true. Why not save money by finding the one place to post, “This is not an accident prone zone. Have fun!” Of course they’d soon have to remove it.

20130304-104036.jpgAnother cool building, this one is a hotel.

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20130304-105039.jpgSomeone forgot to wear his seatbelt(s).

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20130304-105455.jpgAmazing modern scaffolding!

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20130304-110631.jpgSomeone’s not wearing his seatbelt. This truck is driving in traffic, as were the others I took photos of.

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20130304-111040.jpg3=$.06, 7=$.14, 14=$.28, 500=$10, 1000=$20, 1200=$24

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20130304-111629.jpgGovernment Buildings.

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20130304-111823.jpgI like that on each level the window surrounds are different.

20130304-111948.jpgThis original symbol, opposite of the swastika, has always represented God or temple.

20130304-112144.jpgThey’re just playing! (But it looks like the big dog is eating the little dog.)

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20130304-112502.jpgSomeone’s not wearing their seatbelt(s), while in motion.

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20130304-112946.jpgWashing dishes. Not quite clean enough to eat off though.

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20130304-113133.jpgStationery

20130304-113223.jpgDull colours.

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20130304-113908.jpgMetalworking, and a shave and a haircut.

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20130304-114210.jpgKolkata was a buffet of activities to watch and had plenty of interesting sights. I think it should not be missed.

If you enjoy my blog, please share it with your friends! There are lots of other stories and photos here too including more on Kolkata. You can share the link by clicking on Facebook below, or just tell them they can follow http://www.PersonalTravelStories.com. Thanks for your support! Cheers! Darren

Kolkata – Old Newspaper Clippings – From over 150 Years Ago

I am sure that those of you who read my blog understand that my primary interest in travel stems from my fascination with the ways that other people live. Slices-of-life are most interesting to me. In my Kolkata home stay I happened upon a collation of News Stories mostly from 1830 to 1850 that show fascinating little snippets of life at that time in Kokata (then Calcutta). Here are the articles that I found most interesting.

Slices-Of-Life in Calcutta during the British Era from Various Periodicals

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If you found these newspaper articles interesting, share them with your friends! Just click on the Twitter or Facebook button below to share the link. Cheers! Darren