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Ganga Sagar Mela

Now it's time to celebrate the festival of colors. It's HOLI! This year it was on Mar 23rd and 24th. The first day is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi while the second day is known as Rangwali Holi. Both these days are celebrated all over India. 

 The word "Holi" originates from "Holika", the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu who tried to burn Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada the devotee of Lord Vishnu, but got burnt herself. In the Braj region of India, Mathura & Vrindavan where the Hindu deity Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 30 days in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. 

Any festival is incomplete without food. So sweets (gujiya) and thandai forms an integral part of this celebration. This year I was in Kolkata with my family so got some clips of the day for you all.

Holi Hai !!!

Whenever we think of Kolkata, few things which come to our mind are Ganges, Victoria, Howra Bridge, crowded streets, Durga Puja and last but not the least Rasogolla! I have seen in different blogs, exhibitions and the common thing is that, by Kolkata people have always portrayed the poor Kolkata. But apart from these there many things which might interest you all.

​So what else can be better than sharing some glimpse of present Kolkata with you all. I am not a regular traveler, get very little time from job to pursue my this love. So today I will share some memories which I have recently lived. 

Couple of weeks back we went to Victoria Memorial. It's the white marble structure dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. The structure is a blend of British and Mughal elements as well as Venetian, Egyptian, Deccani and Islamic architecture. There are two segments of the building, the garden and the museum. Separate tickets are available for the same at the counter, however at present, the museum is closed so only the garden is open to visitors. 

Glimpse of Kolkata Book Fair 2016

This master piece is near the Maidan metro station; although one can get down at Rabindra Sadan or Park Street. Apart from Victoria there are 2 more structures; St. Paul's Cathedral and Birla Planetarium (Taramandal). It was passed 4pm when we reached Maidan, so unfortunately the sun was not in our favor. But still we managed to get some pics. 

As the name suggest, Birla Planetarium is an astronomical observatory whose architecture is loosely styled on the Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi. It is the largest planetarium in Asia and the second largest planetarium in the world. It houses an astronomical gallery and observatory. Unfortunately the day we went the observatory was closed due to renovation.

Kolkata popularly termed as the City of Joy is one of the dying metros which used to be a prime center of Indian Culture couple of decades back. It has always been prime location on the travel checklist of the foreign tourists. 

The Queen and her Memorial; The Victoria Memorial

Just beside the planetarium is the St. Paul's Cathedral. It is said to be the largest cathedral in Kolkata and the first Episcopal Church in Asia. It was also the first cathedral built in the overseas territory of the British Empire. 

The architectural design of the cathedral is "Indo-Gothic". The cathedral complex has a library, situated over the western porch, and a display of Plastic art forms and memorabilia. During Christmas the church complex looks fabulous, fully decorated, completely lighted up. Unfortunately I don't have any picture of that celebration

​That day it was late so we managed to visit these three places only. 

Few year's back Book Fair used to be a festival for book lovers. But now it has become a spot for a day out with friends and families. Every year we get to see different countries as the theme of the book fair. This year it was Bolivia. My husband and I are book lovers. We Though we don't get that much time to regularly read books, we try to manage sometime out, may be once or twice a week for books. In book fare you will get a vast variety of books; starting from novels, biographies, religious texts, comics, recipe books, painting guides to academic books. 

Apart from these spots, there are few festivals which makes Kolkata equally appealing. Among those the recent ones were Ganga Sagar, Kolkata Book Fair and Holi. ​Ganga Sagar Mela is celebrated on Paush Sankranti (Jan 14 or Jan 15). It is held annually at Sagar Island (Sagar Dwip) in South 24 Pargana District of West Bengal and, 140 km from Kolkata where the holy river Ganga drains into the Bay of Bengal. Hindus from all over India and abroad come to perform Ganga Sagar Snan on this auspicious day.  From Kolkata there are buses and taxis for Kakdwip, from there one have to shift to a ferry to cross the river and after 40 minutes reach Sagar Island. The total journey takes around 4-5 hours. There is also a helipad service from Kolkata to Ganga Sagar which reduces the journey time to around 30 minutes. We took this second option to reach there.

From Left: Evening view of Victoria Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral

On makar sankranti millions of devotees come on this place to take dip in the Ganges and prey in the Kapil Muni Temple. As per Hindu Mythology, once there was a king named Sagar whose sacrificial horse was stolen by Indra. The king sent his 60,000 sons to find it, and they found it next to Kapil Muni's ashram. Mistaking Kapil Muni for the thief, the sons accused him, who in his wrath at the false accusation burned the sons to ash and sent their souls to Hell. Later having compassion for the King Sagar's sons, Kapil Muni acceded to the prayers of King Sagar's descendants and agreed to the restoration of the sons, if Parvati in the form of the river goddess Ganga would descend to Earth. Through deep meditation, King Bhagiratha brought Ganga down from heaven on Makar Sankranti and freed his ancestors. From then river Ganges stayed on the Earth.

The City of Joy; Kolkata Part 1