Places to remember Kolkata, West Bengal

A cruise down the Hoogly will give you a whole new picture of Kolkata
Places to remember Kolkata, West Bengal

My heart skips a beat whenever someone mentions the moribund metro of Calcutta (or Kolkata). It is, after all, also our most spirited city, home to bhadra folk who prefer books and bandhs to malls and Marutis. Tired of selling its less visible charms to fellow workers, I was left with no choice but to tell the story. To make a plum assignment perfect, I opted for the most scenic route through the city &mdash along the river. We were three men in a boat &mdash myself the blossoming writer, a photographer with an ill-concealed fetish for sunsets, and a crafty boatman. We passed crumbling warehouses, sprawling ghats, the turn-of-the-century promenade that is Millenium park. On the Hoogly stood two of the grandest bridges in India, and dolphins gamboled in the river. There were sights galore on the riverfront &mdash the Botanical Gardens, the suburb of Metia Bruz settled by the exiled Wajid Ali Shah, brick-red Howrah Station. On the way, we dropped anchor at Kumartuli &mdash the potters&rsquo colony famed for its clay idols. We finally disembarked at the Baghbazaar jetty, and rounded off a sweet day with rosogollas at Nabin Chandra Das, where the syrupy confection was invented in 1868.

The information

Options on the river abound. On the expensive side, you could hire a small powered launch from the Calcutta Port Trust (but this is more suitable for groups and longer excursions). A cosy rowboat, the preferred setting for many a romantic rendezvous, won't cost much. But do bargain hard, especially if hiring for the entire day. Cheapest (and best, Calcuttans will tell you) is the regular passenger launch service. Water taxis have been spotted on the waters recently.

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