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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

A few days in Kolkata

I arrived to Kolkata a few days ago in advance of my Lunana Snowman (Bhutan) group coming in on September 25th. This is my first visit to the city that I have heard so much about, since my first trip to India in 1992 I have got to know theother “Metro” cities of Delhi and Mumbai quite well but never made it to Kolkata.

I have had an enjoyable stay so far here, the people are very friendly and there seems to be less hassle from street hawkers than some of the ther large cities in India. From the airport my taxi driver delivered me directly to my hotel without trying to persuade to stay somewhere else, this must be a first during my time in India!

On my first day I went to the Victoria Memorial, this impressive building was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 1901 Diamond Jubilee although was finally completed 20 years after she died. Next to the memorial is a beautiful park called the Maidan over 5km long right and right in the centre of busy Kolkata.

Photo: Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

On the way to the memorial I saw a large street procession with horse drawn carriages decorated with flowers and brass bands. This might have been something to do with the Durga Puja starting in a weeks time. This annual festival celebrates worship of Hindu goddess Durga throughout West Bengal where it is a five day annual holiday and the biggest event of the year.

Photo: street procession

Walking around the city is interesting seeing the old Colonial buildings mixed with new shopping malls and offices. There is certainly no problem getting transport with many yellow Ambassador taxis around (constantly honking their horns!) and also the infamous human powered rickshaws. I have not used taxis or rickshaws to get around yet as I prefer to walk with most places pretty close to my hotel on Sudder Street.

Photo: human powered rickshaw

Photo: ubiquitous yellow Ambassador taxi

I will be offline while in Bhutan, I fly to Kathmandu on October 29th and will then write a post to the blog letting you know how we got along on the Snowman trek!

Roland Hunter

www.themountaincompany.co.uk

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