Date: 14 Nov., 2010
Minimum number of participants: 15; Maximum number of participants: 60
Cost: 20 USD per head excluding the cost of lunch and entry fees (wherever applicable)
(Participants will be dropped at a restaurant located conveniently during lunchtime)
Departure from Hotel at 8:30 AM after breakfast.
Tour terminates at the Indian Statistical Institute at 5:30 PM (before Welcome Ceremony)
A few photographs:
Main sites to be covered:
§ Fort William: Fort William of Kolkata is situated on the bank of River Ganga, near the 2nd Hoogly River Bridge. The place is well known for its serene and calm beauty and its distinctively green surroundings. In the history of Kolkata there were actually two Fort Williams in British Calcutta, the old and the new fort Williams. The Old Fort dates back to the very early days of the British rule in Kolkata, under Sir Charles Eyre who began the construction and it was carried on by John Beard around the year 1701. The Government House was set amidst Fort William in 1702 and it was completed in 1706. After the attack of the Nawab and the Battle of Plassey the British were taken aback and were shaken to the core by the fear of loosing out the city, this made them replace the original Fort William, Kolkata. In 1758, the foundation of the castle was laid and was completed in 1781.
The Fort William has the capability to accommodate a garisson of 10,000 men, there is also a museum that attracts the tourist, which showcases arms and armors, swords, muskets and machine-guns, photographs of the Burma campaign and of the Bangladesh Liberation War. The architectural brilliance of the Fort attracts tourists. The fort is a massive structure and has six gates. The Fort was octagonal in shape with three sides facing river Ganges this was strategically built so that it could be resisted from attacks. The present fort has all in-house modern facilities for the welfare and relaxation of its 10,000 odd resident military personnel.
§ St. Paul's Cathedral: St. Paul's Cathedral is a Anglican cathedral of the Church of North India. It is the seat of the Diocese of Calcutta. The building stands in the locality of several other landmark buildings of Kolkata which include Victoria Memorial, Nandan - Rabindra Sadan theatre complex, and the Birla Planetarium.
Bishop Wilson patronized the construction of this beautiful church in 1839. The credit for the awesome designing of this Indo-Gothic architecture goes to Major W. N. Forbes. The work of establishing the St. Paul Cathedral of Kolkata, India got completed in 1847. It is situated at the southern end of the Maidan. The church got destroyed due to the earthquake of 1897 and then it was renovated. But, the earthquake of 1934 led to the collapse of the tower and eventually it was rebuilt on the lines of the Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral. It is 247 ft. in length and 81 ft. in width. The main hall of the cathedral is very large containing splendid carved wooden pews and chairs. Its eastern walls are covered with the mind-blowing colorful artwork.
§ Victoria Memorial: (Monday is the closing day of the museum and entry into inside the museum is not possible) Victoria Memorial, built between 1906 and 1921 to commemorate Queen Victoria's 25-year reign in India, is one of the famous and beautiful monuments of Kolkata. This huge white-marble museum, made from Makrana marbles from Rajasthan, is filled with a vast collection of remnants from the period of British Empire rule in India. The forms in the museum like the great dome, clustered with four subsidiary, octagonal domed chattris, the high portals, the terrace and the domed corner towers speak of a splendid richness in architecture.
This grandiloquent structure presently houses a museum of British India memorabilia like a large collection of oil paintings and water colours by famous European artists like Charles D'oyly, Johann Zoffany, William Hadges, William Simpson, Tilly Kettle, Thomas Hickey, Bultzar Solvyns, Thomas Hickey, Emily Eden and others. Besides these, the Memorial also houses the largest collection in the world of the paintings by the Daniells. The Royal Gallery is a storehouse of oil paintings of Queen Victoria.
§ Netaji Bhavan (Residence of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ) is a memorial hall of Netaji (The Leader) Subhas Chandra Bose in Kolkata, owned and managed by Netaji Research Bureau. It includes museum, archives and library. This is the ancestral house of Subhas Chandra Bose, and he had lived and put under house arrest at this house till his escape to Berlin in the year 1941. After that, he moved to Japan-occupied Southeast Asia by submarine, organized Indian National Army, and fought against British power with the help of Japanese Army.
The museum has things collected from all over the world that has connections with Subhas Chandra Bose. Netaji has always been the curiosity of the people firstly due to his contributions to the fight for India's freedom and secondly due to his mysterious disappearance, which has, many myths associated with him. Hence this house has been attracting large crowd regularly.
§ Eden Garden / Pagoda: Kolkata's Eden Garden is the oldest cricket ground in India and is also considered one of the finest in the world. It can now accommodate around 82000 spectators and is the second biggest cricket stadium in the world, behind the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. It was created in 1840. Winding paths intersects the expanse dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs, and there is a large artificial lake. Adjoining the lake is the Pagoda, which was brought to Kolkata from Burma after the British defeated the Burmese in the war of 1884. Near the garden one can take a pleasant walk along the bank of the river Hooghly.
Eden Gardens has an exclusiveness of its own. Ethereal and elusive the enduring charm of Eden Gardens has lent an aura of its own. People who come here are fascinated by its beauty and freshness. Even the habitu's of the park are obsessed with this groovy pagoda - a structure of mystic beauty. In 1852, this pagoda was first established in Prome, a city in Burma by a Burmese lady. The chief architect of this splendiferous pagoda was Mong Hue who was ably assisted in this task by ten skilled carpenters. Built of exquisite Burmese segoon, the pagoda housed an idol of Gandhasa, whose forehead was studded with several precious jewels. Such a pagoda is called Taza-Ung.
§ College Street: College Street is the location of Kolkata's most renowned academic institutions. The College Street is most famous for its bookstores. Many of the Bengali publication industry are situated here. Its sidewalks on both sides are crowded with makeshift kiosks constructed with wood, bamboo, sheets of corrugated tin and canvas. These shops sell old books. It is the largest second-hand book market in the world and largest book market in India and collectively boasts of a collection of almost any title ever sold at Kolkata. One can buy rare books at throw-away prices and extensive bargaining take place. This neighbourhood, is often referred to as the Boi Para (boi: book, para: neighbourhood).
§ Writers' Building, Raj Bhavan, High Court, General Post Office (drive past).
§ Dakshineswar Kali Temple: This colossal temple of Goddess Kali is known to be one of the rare temples of Indian origin, having worldwide fame. The large temple complex, built between 1847 and 1855, had as its centerpiece a shrine of the goddess Kali, but also had temples dedicated to the deities Shiva and Radha-Krishna. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, was the head priest of this temple in its early days, who had brought great fame to this temple. However, Ramakrishna did not serve for long as temple's head priest. From the first days of his service in the shrine of the goddess Kali, he was filled with a rare form of the love of God known in Hinduism as 'maha-bhava'. Worshipping in front of the statue of Kali, Ramakrishna would be overcome with such ecstatic love for the deity that he would fall to the ground and, immersed in spiritual trance, lose all consciousness of the external world. These experiences of God-intoxication became so frequent that he was relieved of his duties as temple priest but allowed to continue living within the temple compound. During the next twelve years Ramakrishna would journey ever deeper into this passionate and absolute love of the divine. His practice was to express such intense devotion to particular deities that they would physically manifest to him and then merge into his being. The various forms of god and goddess such as Shiva, Kali, Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, Christ and Mohammed frequently appeared him and his fame as an 'avatar', or divine incarnation, rapidly spread throughout India. Ramakrishna died in 1886 at the age of fifty but his life, his intense spiritual practices, and the temple of Kali where many of his ecstatic trances occurred continued to attract pilgrims from all over India and the world. While Ramakrishna grew up and lived within the domain of Hinduism, his experience of the divine went far beyond the bounds of that, or any other, religion. Ramakrishna fully realized the infinite and all-inclusive nature of the divine.
§ Belur Math: It is located on the banks of the river Hooghly, was built in the year 1988 and is well known for its tranquil beauty. Belur Math is the international Headquarter of the Ramakrishna Mission, which was established by Swami Vivekananda in loving memory of his teacher Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa who preached for unity of all religions. Belur Math is a place of pilgrimage for people of different religious faiths and is visited by people from all over the world. The Belur Math houses a museum called Sri Ramakrishna Museum, which has been set up with the help from National Council of Science Museum, India. Belur Math is free from bigotry and sectarian rational and is modern in outlook. The Math and the Mission are committed to the task of ushering in a new age in which distinctions of caste, creed and class do not exist.