We arrived at the modern Bose Kolkata Airport and took a prepaid taxi to our hotel, Tatvam Residency Hotel on Picnic Garden road, near the EM Bypass. On the way we passed elevated roads under construction and lots of tuk-tuks. The driver hadn’t heard of the hotel, and it did feel like it was in the middle of nowhere. Picnic Garden road itself was a long small road full of tiny shops and market stalls, and the hotel was down a short, dark alley to one side. The staff there were very friendly and the hotel was nice, clean and modern. Our room was upgraded to a large room, off a lounge and kitchen area, shared with two other rooms. We ordered some food, which we ate in the lounge. What a lovely place! It felt like being in a nice and modern house.
We then took a tuk-tuk to a large, modern shopping centre called Quest where I bought a pair of sandals and we bought a few provisions from the supermarket before going to Chili’s for dinner in the food court.
Next day we wandered out to the junction with EM Bypass, past the Golden Leaf cigarette shop, to the taxi area and took a cab to the unmistakable Victoria Memorial. It was a wonderful, celebratory white building, set in a large park (£1.50 entry). The building itself had a Victorian flavour, with a grand dome above the central hall. The exhibits inside display the history of Calcutta, art works and portraits of Indian Prime Ministers. After looking around we strolled around one of the four symmetrical lakes and found another taxi, near the beautiful horse-drawn carriages, this time to New Market.
New Market consisted of several large warehouses full of stalls selling mainly clothes, even though we heard it was good for leather. After trying to fend off a would-be guide working for the market, we eventually succumbed and asked him to show us a leather stall so Mark could look for a wallet to replace his. The place sold him one for about £10, real leather, and I bought a purse for myself. Then he took us next door where I got a long, pink dress and two pairs of trousers.
After doing our shopping we decided to walk around the park to see an elegant colonial building called the Esplanade Mansion on the corner of Marx Engels Beethi Road and Sido Kanhu Dakar. We then took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel.
Next day we took a taxi to Mother Teresa’s house, a place which I was particularly keen to see. We found the small entrance door on the side street but unfortunately it said it was closed. However we spoke to a man in the internet café opposite and he assured us that they would still let us in if we knocked, so we did that. A young nun opened the door and happily let us in, she showed us the courtyard and explained that the museum/sleeping quarters were closed, but we could still see the tomb. We entered , prayed and took a few pictures. It was such a lovely, calm, beautiful place that it was a shame to leave. Outside we got chatting to a couple of friendly old ladies, while waiting for a tuk-tuk, which was nice. They told us about a Mother Teresa children’s hospital but we didn’t see it in the end.
We caught a taxi to Dakshineswar Kali Temple in the north of the city. It was a colourful place with small shrines around the edge and a courtyard in the middle. Photography wasn’t allowed but we saw other people taking pictures so we did the same. Afterwards we took a tuk-tuk to the other temple across the river, Belur Math Temple, but by then it was dark and the grounds were poorly lit. Finally we got tuk-tuk once more back across the Howrah bridge back to the hotel.
Kolkata is a very special place to me and I felt blessed I managed to visit it. It exceed my expectations. I had an amazing time there.