Friday 10 January 2014

Things To Do In Kolkata Part 1: Take A City Tour

Kolkata was chosen as a transit city for us to get to the Himalayan hill stations as it is relatively near to Bagdogra airport and it is also cheaper to fly into Kolkata from Kuala Lumpur compared to other Indian cities. We had more than 1 full day in Kolkata so a natural thing for us to do was to take a city tour.
We booked a cab and driver from the hotel we stayed in as that was probably safer than simply getting a cab from the street. We only paid something like RM130 for an eight-hour city tour. The good thing was we got to decide on our own itinerary. 
This is Bimal our cab driver, looking smart with his uniform and cap. He came sharp at 10am to pick us from The Pride, the hotel we lodged in.
Our tour started from Kolkata New Town where our hotel is located. The construction of  New Town Kolkata is an ongoing project to cater for a growing demand for housing and commercial space as the old Kolkata is getting over congested. Many high rise apartments, condominiums and shopping malls have sprung up and many are still under construction (see photo above). In a few years time the sky line here would have been unrecognizable.
The new town of Kolkata is a well planned satellite town (covering 7000 hectares) and travelling in this part of Kolkata is not so stressful as the roads are wide and the traffic, quite organised.
As we reached the old town of Kolkata, traffic came to a standstill. We were faced with massive traffic jam.
Just like in Hong Kong, many people walk the streets.The difference is they are not smartly dressed here.
For some, carrying heavy loads on the head is a means of eking out a living in this city.
It was an eye-opener to see such mode of transport still exist.
Human powered 2-wheel carts or the manual rickshaws are a common sight here.
 Kolkata was once a colonial city. It was developed by British East India Company and then by the British Empire. Beautiful buildings like this have been left behind as a British legacy.
The Howrah Train Station looking vibrant in a new coat of red paint is another such legacy.
Metropolitan Building in Esplanade Kolkata
In Kolkata, visiting Howrah Bridge is a must as it is such a spectacular bridge. Built using 26,500 tons of steel this 705 meter long bridge across the Hooghly River is the 4th cantilever bridge in the world.
This bridge which links Howrah and Kolkata is a bustling site of commerce with very heavy  traffic for vehicles and pedestrians alike.
Commuters carrying and pushing heavy loads at the sidewalks of Howrah Bridge
Men bathing at Hooghly River, near Howrah Bridge.
The yellow cabs or Ambasador Grands are non-airconditioned taxis that ply the streets of Kolkata.
A roadside vendor displaying his wares.
Sir Stuart Hogg Market or simply New Market is a very happening place in the city.
New Market is a shopping paradise, especially for women.
Ladies handbags at RM5 each? That's unbelievably cheap.
There are many roadside vendors promoting their wares. Also found in abundance here are eateries and fast food outlets
This is an unbelievable but a common sight in Kolkata - Men openly bathing and washing on the walkways of very busy streets. 
We also made a quick tour around Chinatown where a sizable number of Chinese live.

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