PLACES OF INTREST
 

KOLKATA

  

Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911. formerly Calcutta , is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. The city has a population of almost 4.5 million, with an extended metropolitan population of over 14 million, making it the third-largest urban agglomeration and the fourth-largest city in India. Charnock was not the founder of the city.[7]

In 1699, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Kolkata (then Calcutta) was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. Faced with frequent skirmishes with French forces, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When protests against the militarisation by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah went unheeded, he attacked and captured Fort William leading to the infamous Black Hole incident. A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Kolkata was named the capital of British India in 1772, although the capital shifted to the hilly town of Shimla during the summer months every year, starting from the year 1864.[8] It was during this period that the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Kolkata as "The City of Palaces". The city was a center of the British East India Company's opium trade during the 18th and 19th century; locally produced opium was sold at auction in Kolkata, to be shipped to China.

By the early 19th century, Kolkata was split into two distinct areas—one British (known as the White Town), the other Indian (known as Black Town).[9] Even at the time, the poverty of the 'Black Town' shanties was considered shocking. The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the 1850s, especially in the textile and jute sectors; this caused a massive investment in infrastructure projects like rail roads and telegraph by British government. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new Babu class of urbane Indians — whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, read newspapers, were Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities.[10] Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of the people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjea organized a national conference — the first of its kind in nineteenth century India. Gradually Kolkata became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organizations. The 1905 Partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods (Swadeshi movement).

 

Eden Garden

A sprawling garden set up by the British in the early 20 century with a band stand and a beautiful pagoda.  A stadium has been built adjacent to it for cricket test matches which can accommodate about 85,000 people.

 

Howrah Bridge

This Engineering marvel has been the firmest symbol of Calcutta. The huge cantilever bridge, strung on two 270 feet high pillars connects Calcutta from Howrah. It four traffic lanes are daily used by over a lakh vehicles.

The Howrah Bridge extending across the Hooghly river catches the eyes of every visitor as soon as he steps into the city of Calcutta.  This cantilever bridge is supported by two 270 feet high piers.

 

Calcutta High Court

The Highest seat of judiciary in West Bengal. One of the oldest in India (constructed in 1872), built in the Gothic style of architecture, it is a landmark in Calcutta. An extension was added later, which retains its architectural symmetry. Near Eden Gardens.

 

Saheed Minar

A monument similar to Qutab Minar of Delhi. This was known as Octerloney Monument. Located near Esplanade on the Maidan and seat of many memorable political meetings.

Victoria Memorial

Built between 1906 and 1921 on the lines of the Taj Mahal in memory of Queen Victoria. Topped with a moving angel this memorial faces the Calcutta Maidan. It houses paintings, manuscripts, and other objects of historic value in its Museum and Art Gallery. Two regular sound and light shows are held in the evening. Closed on Mondays.

Vidyasagar Setu

A beautiful bridge that spans the Hooghly, it has been built to ease the load off the existing Howrah bridge.

 Inaugurated in 1994, it affords a panoramic view of the Calcutta skyline.

 

 Writer's Building

The seat of the West Bengal Government Secretariat, it is located in B B D Bag. Built during the days of the Raj, this building epitomises the political revolution of Bengal.

Marble Palace

This, indisputably, is the richest, the quaintest, the eeriest, the most haphazard and the most ridiculous, the most astonishing and the most lovable and almost the saddest relic in what, by about the start of the nineteenth century, was beginning to be called the City of Palaces.

General Post Office (GPO)

A piece of novel architecture located in the B B D Bag area. Controls the entire postal system of Calcutta.

One of the oldest and largest turfs for horse racing in India. Holds a number of national events in horse racing.

  

 National Library

Previously Vice-Regal House, it is one of the largest libraries in Asia with a collection of rare books and manuscripts. Located opposite the Zoological Gardens, Alipore.

Museums

West Bengal pioneered museum development in India with institutions like the Asiatic Society (1784), the Indian Botanic Garden (1787) and the Indian Museum (1814) -institutions which are amongst the oldest in India and up to this day remain principal attractions of tourists visiting Calcutta. There also exist about twenty five other museums of zoology, botany, geology, agriculture, veterinary medicine, pathology and anatomy attached to colleges and universities and used for teaching and research.

The Victoria Memorial 

Situated on Calcutta Maidan , it stands majestic in its symmetrical construction of white marble. There is an Art Gallery and Museum inside. The surrounding open Space, beautifully laid out with trees, pools and lawns, is one of the most cherished areas of Calcutta.

Science City

It is located on Calcutta's Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. This 21st century marvel of science, communication and environment is the first and only institution of its kind in India.

The pioneering effort of NCSM, in setting up open air Science Parks has now added a new dimension to science teaching through a process of discovery in the outdoor setting. Set amidst trees and lawns, here one finds science out of doors and alive.

 

Birla Planetarium

Only the second of its kind in the commonwealth and similar to that in London. Regular astronomical shows are presented here with commentaries in different languages.

 Situated close to the crossing of Theatre Road and Chowringhee road, the Birla Planetarium is adjacent to the maidan. The Planetarium owes its existence to the Birla Education in 1929. The Planetarium is a single-storeyed, circular structure constructed in pure Indian architectural style.

 

Nicco Park

Nicco Park is situated at Salt Lake. This Amusement park is the Disneyland of West Bengal, with a variety of unusual games and rides. The Cave Ride is the latest addition and is the only of its kind in this part of the world. The park is open to the public from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm everyday during the winter and 11.00 am to 9.00 pm everyday during the rest of the year.

Academy of Fine Art Collections include contemporary Indian Art. Rabindra Gallery contains original paintings, manuscripts and personal belongings of Rabindranath Tagore. The Academy also runs an Artists' Studio for the benefit of working artists. Moreover this is an important center of cultural activities.

 

Zoological Garden

The Zoological Gardens at Alipore opened to the public in 1876, have one of the finest collections of birds, animals, and reptiles. Within the Gardens,there is also a children’s' Zoo. The aquarium in front of the Zoological Gardens contains sea-fishes of rare varieties.

Kalighat Temple

Built in 1809, the Kali Temple is an Ancient center of Hindu pilgrimage. The architecture is of typical mediaeval Bengal style. Despite industrialization and commercial activity that has given Calcutta a new look, the Kali temple remains unchanged, attracting a larger number of pilgrims and visitors every day. Visitors to the temple receive as 'prasad' a vermillion paste , the symbol of Kali, to wear on the foreheads as a tilak.

 

Botanical Garden

Spread over an area of 273 acres on the west bank of the Ganga, Indian Botanic garden is the largest of its kind in India. Laid out in 1787, the Garden contains 12,000 living perennial plants and over two and a half million dried out plant specimens in the herbarium, collected from all over the world. 

 

St Paul's Cathedral

The Anglican Cathedral of Calcutta built in 1847, adjacent to the Birla Planetarium. It towers 65 m high and is famous for the serene service conducted on Christmas Eve.

 

 Belur Math

Founded by Swami Vivekananda, the world famous  yogi and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna  Paramhansa, it is the Headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission and is 6.4 kms from Howrah Station on the banks of the River Hooghly. This International tourist attraction is located near Belur in Howrah district. Its sprawling prayer hall with a statue of Ramakrishna is remarkable. Connected by train and bus.

 

Dakshineswar Temple

the 19th century on the bank of Ganges, north east of Calcutta. It is here that Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, the renowned spiritual personality and the guru of Swami Vivekananda had worshipped the Goddess Kali, Bhaba Tarani, and did his sadhana at the Panchabati Garden adjacent to the temple. A world famous place of pilgrimage.


DARJEELING


 

CONNECTIONS :

 

From Calcutta (665 km)

By Road : Darjeeling is connected to Siliguri the main city in the plains by the Tenzing Norgay Road (formerly Hill Cart Road).

By Bus: Bus services between Darjeeling and Siliguri are frequent. Private taxis, landrovers are also available. From Siliguri  by bus/taxi/trekker to Darjeeling (80 km), about 4 hours. 

By Rail: You can take the famous toy train, which is a meter gauge train operating over breath taking scenery. The journey takes approximately seven and half hours.

New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri Junction stations at the base of the Darjeeling Hill areas have direct railway connections with Calcutta, Mumbai, Guwahati, Madras, Lucknow, and Delhi.

Some Important train services connecting New Jalpaiguri/Siliguri with major cities.

From Calcutta

Darjeeling Mail

Kamroop Exp.

New Jalpaiguri

Teesta Torsa

Kunchanjunga Express

From New Delhi

North East

From Mumbai 

Bombay Mail

From Madras

Howrah Mail

From Guwahati 

Assam Mail

By Air: By air to Bagdogra (Siliguri) - flight duration is about 45 minutes. Indian Airlines as well as private airlines operate on this route.

Bagdogra, the airport for Darjeeling hill areas has direct air connections with New Delhi, Calcutta and Guwahati. 

The name Darjeeling is a composition of 'dorje' meaning 'thunderbolt' and 'ling' meaning 'place' ... 'the Land of Thunderbolt'.

Gifted to the British East India Company in 1817, Darjeeling is the hill station of West Bengal.

This has been called the queen of hill-stations.Darjeeling is one of India's most famous hill resorts. It is 2134 m or 7000ft above sea level.

In 1835, Darjeeling was given to the East India Company by the King of Sikkim. It became a popular resort for the British who wanted to escape from the sweltering heat of the plains.

Tiger hills is the highest point in the area which provides the most exotic view of the Kanchenjunga peaks. From this place the other peaks of the Eastern Himalayas can be seen. On a clear day the sight of Mt.Everest is just enthralling.

The toy train coming from Siliguri is some thing which is liked by the elders and the children equally. The real fun in coming to Darjeeling is on the toy train. It takes six to seven hours to cover a distance of 82 kms and the slow speed gives you enough time to watch and appreciate the beauty which nature has provided it. This train passes through the Forests, waterfalls, over deepvalleys and through the mountains and tunnels

The city is centered around the Mall which has a variety of shops, restaurants and hotels. Beautiful walk ways start from the Mall.

Between Darjeeling and Siliguri is the small town of Kurseong which has several educational institutions and churches.

Trekking enthusiasts can check out Sandakphu and Phalut. From  Sandakphu  one can see four of the five highest mountain peaks in the world - Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Kanchanjunga. 

Say Darjeeling, and your listener is bound to reply tea. The association is well deserved. Darjeeling produces the world's most aromatic variety of tea. The unusual mixture of soil, altitude, sunshine, rainfall and the character of the people help Darjeeling produce the most fragrant of teas. Thus, good Darjeeling tea is indeed the champagne of teas.

It was around 1834 when Lord William Bentinck appointed a committee "to consider the question of importing seeds and plants from China; to decide upon the most favourable localities for growing them..." Around 1835 seedlings and tea seeds were distributed to various parts of India, mostly in the hilly regions of the country. 


KALIMPONG

The name, Kalimpong, has three different origins. One, it means the place where the local tribesmen gathered to organize field sports, second, it takes it’s name from the Bhutanese king’s minister’s stronghold and thirdly, it is named after Kaulim, a fibrous plant found in abundance in this region.

The town is 1250 m above sea level and offers excellent views of the Mt Kanchenjunga and the other Himalayan peaks. The popular view points are Durpin Dara and Deoro Hill.

Kalimpong has several monasteries and also a Kali temple. The Tibetan Monastery and curio center and Dr Graham's home are important tour stops.  

Lava (32kms),

a small village is another picturesque place. Lava is also the base for trekking to the Neora National Park. Lolegaon is 25 kms from Lava and one can see the Singalila ranges from here.

PLACES OF INTEREST 


The Tharpa Choeling Gompa,

which belongs to the Yellow Hat (Gelukpa) sect of Tibetan Buddhism, is a 40 minute walk from town. Lower down the hill, the Tongsa Gompa, or Bhutanese Monastery, is the oldest monastery in the area and dates back to 1692.

Zong Dog Palri Fo-Brang Gompa,

 was built in the mid-70s at Durpin Dara Hill and was consecrated by the Dalai Lama. The gompa is worth a visit for its impressive wall paintings in the prayer room, and a rare three-dimensional mandala upstairs. The mountain views are amazing from Durpin Dara Hill.  


Flower Nurseries

Kalimpong produces 80% of India’s gladioli and is a significant orchid-growing area and it comes as no surprise that flowers are exported from here to many cities in northern India.

 

Dr. Graham’s Home

Less than an hour’s walk away from the town centre is Dr. Graham’s Home, which was founded in 1900 on the lower slopes of Deolo Hill. The chapel above the school dates from 1925 and features beautiful stained-glass windows. Tourists can also visit the fine turn-of-the-century school building, and many people often picnic on the school grounds. From the school building, it is a further 40 minute walk to the summit of Deolo Hill, where there is a Tourist Bungalow and one can enjoy fine views of Kalimpong from here.

Kalimpong has a well laid-out golf course near the Durpin Dara Monastery. The monastery was built in the mid-1970s at Durpin Dara and consecrated by the Dalai Lama. The view from here is breath-taking.