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CALCUTTA SIGHTSEEING

 

Botanical Gardens : On the west bank of the Hooghly River, south of Howrah, are the extensive Botanical Gardens. The gardens' prime attraction is the 200-year-old banyan tree, claimed to be the largest in the world. The cool and tropical tall-palm house in the centre of the gardens is also well worth a visit. The gardens are at Sibpur over the Howrah Bridge and 19 km. from Chowringhee. They are peaceful and make a pleasant escape from the crowds of Calcutta. Indian Museum : It is certainly the largest and probably the best museum in India, and one of the best in Asia. Its widely varied collection includes oddities such as a whole roomful of meteorites. Other exhibits include fossils, stuffed animals, skeletons and so on. There are a number of unique fossil skeletons of prehistoric animals, among them are giant crocodiles and an amazingly big tortoise. The art collection has many fine pieces from Orissan and other temples, and superb examples of Buddhists Gandharan art. Rabindra Sarobar and Ramakrishna Mission : Rabindra Sarobar, in the south of the city, is a park and picnic spot with a central lake. Beside the park is the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, which has a library, reading rooms and lecture halls. Maidan and Fort William :The area around Fort William is called the Maidan. It is bound by Strand Road along the river to the west and by Chowringhee road. In the north-west corner of the Maidan is Eden Gardens, while Raj Bhavan overlooks it from the north.Within the gardens are cricket and foot- ball fields, ponds, trees and the latest attraction, the musical fountains.


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Ochterlony Monument : Also known as the Shahid Minar, this 48 metre high column towers over the northern end of the Maidan. The column is a curious combination of Turkish and Syrian architectural elements. There is a fine view from the top of the column. Eden Gardens : In the north-west corner of the Maidan are the small and pleasantly laid-out Eden Gardens. A tiny Burmese pagoda brought from Myanmar is set in a small lake and is picturesque. Near the garden is a pleasant walk along the banks of the Hooghly River. Victoria Memorial : It is a huge white-marble museum. The imposing statue of Queen Victoria fronts the memorial. Inside the museum there are portraits and statues of the main participants in British-Indian history. French gun captured at the Battle of Plassey are on exhibit along with the black stone throne of the nawab whom Clive defeated. There is a good view over the Maidan from the balcony above the entrance. St Paul's Cathedral : It is one of the most important churches in India. It stands to the east of the Victoria Memorial at the southern end of the Maidan. Inside, the memorials are interesting and there is some impressive stained glass, including the great west window by Burne Jones. Birla Planetarium : It is one of the largest planetariums in the world. You can have a better view of the stars from here. Nehru Children's Museum : This small museum, situated at 94/1 Chowringhee Road, is worth visiting for its models depicting the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.


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Kali Temple :The temple is about 2km. directly south of St Paul's Cathedral and is easily accessible by metro. It is an important pilgrimage site. Zoo and Horticultural Garden : The zoo is to the south of the Maidan. Some of the animals are displayed in near natural environments. Just south of the zoo on Alipore Road are the pleasant and quiet horticultural gardens. Howrah Bridge : The cantilevered bridge is similar in size to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is the busiest bridge in the world, built across the Hooghly river. The bridge is also known as Rabindra Setu. The ferries running from below Howrah Station are a more convenient way to cross the river and give you a good view of the bridge. BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square) On the north side of the square stands the huge Writers' Building. Also on BBD Bagh is a rather more useful place, the Calcutta GPO, and on the eastern side of the square is the West Bengal tourist office. St John's Church : A little south of BBD Bagh is the Church of St John. It has a number of interesting monuments, including the octagonal mausoleum of Job Charnock, founder of Calcutta. Other British Buildings : Raj Bhavan, the old British Government house, is now occupied by the governor of West Bengal. Next to Raj Bhavan is the Doric-style Town Hall, and next to that is the High Court. Just south of the zoo in Alipur is the National Library, the biggest in India. There are marvellous tombs and inscriptions at the peaceful site of South Park St Cemetery.


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Other Museums : The Asutosh Museum at Calcutta University has a collection of art objects with emphasis on Bengali folk art. At 19A Gurusday Road is the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum. There is also the Birla Academy of Art and Culture. It has a good collection of sculptures and modern art. The Academy of Fine Arts,on Cathedral Road beside the cathedral in Chowringhee, has a permanent exhibition and runs an artists' studio. On Muktaram Babu St, a narrow lane in north Calcutta, is the Marble Palace with a collection of statues and paintings. Nearby is the old Tagore House, a centre for Indian dance, drama, music and other arts. This is the birth- place of Rabindranath Tagore, India's greatest modern poet. Sitambara Jain Temple : This temple is in the north-east of the city. It is an ornate mass of mirrors, coloured stones and glass mosaics. It overlooks a garden. Nakhoda Mosque : This mosque is to the north of BBD Bagh and is Calcutta's principal Muslim place of worship. The red sandstone mosque has two 46-mtr. high minarets and a brightly painted onion-shaped dome. Belur Math : It is to the north of the city, on the west bank of the Hooghly River. It is the headquarter of the Ramkrishna Mission. Ramkrishna was an Indian philosopher. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple : Across the river from Belur Math is this Kali temple where Ramkrishna was a priest, and where he reached his spiritual vision of the unity of all religions. The temple is surrounded by 12 other temple, dedicated to Siva.


CALCUTTA SHOPPING

 

Calcutta has the usual government emporiums and quite a good Centre Cottage Industries Emporium at 7 Chowringhee Road. There are numerous interesting shops along Chowringhee Road selling everything from carpets to handicrafts. The shops along the entrance arcade to the Oberoi Grand Hotel are particularly interesting. There is also an amazing variety of pavement vendors selling everything imaginable. New Market, formerly Hogg Market, is Calcutta's premier place for bargain shopping. Here you can find a little of almost everything, and it is always worth an hour or so wandering around. There is another good street market (mainly clothes) along Lenin Sarani in the evenings.


CALCUTTA - GETTING THERE AND AWAY

 

GETTING THERE AND AWAY AIR Indian Airlines is in the Housing Board Buildings, Kempegowda Rd, and Air India is in the Unity Buildings, Jayachamaraja Rd. Indian Airlines has flights three times daily connecting Bangalore with Bombay, Delhi, Hyderabad, Madras and Calcutta. Vayudoot has flights from Bangalore to Puttaparthi and Madras. East West Airlines has one flight daily to Bombay. BUS Bangalore's huge and well-organised Central bus station is directly in front of the City Railway Station. All the regular buses within the state are operated by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC). Interstate buses are operated by KSRTC as well as the state road transport corporation of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. The interstate bus corporation have their offices at Stand 13 in the central bus station. Thiruvalluvar also has frequent daily buses to Madras, Madurai and Coimbatore, and APSRTC have several daiy buses to Hyderabad. In addition to the various state buses, numerous private companies offer buses between Bangalore and the other major cities in central and southern India.


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