Monday, 31 August 2015

Bose House, Serampore

I discovered Bose House in Serampore purely by chance. Actually even using the word “discovered” would be inaccurate. It would imply that I came upon something, and knew what it was. I did not. I was doing my rounds of Serampore, taking photographs of the town’s colonial era buildings, and just happened to drive past the building on 22, T.C. Goswami Street. I was struck both by the size and obvious magnificence of the structure, and it’s almost frightening decay. I told the chauffeur to pull over, and entered to take some photographs that I was pretty certain I would never use.

 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Royal Exchange, Clive Street

To rid the city of what it calls its “colonial hangover”, the government of West Bengal has renamed the road once known as Royal Exchange Place, to India Exchange Place, although the building that houses the Bengal Chamber of Commerce still bears the name “Royal Exchange” in gigantic letters on its fa├žade. The list of people who have at some point occupied these premises on Clive Street (now Netaji Subhas Road), is a long and impressive one.

 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Christ Church, Lucknow

Located in the Hazratganj area, Christ Church is Lucknow’s oldest Church, built in 1860. The first Anglican Church in North India, and probably the third in all of India, was the St. Mary’s Church, located inside Lucknow’s Residency. During the mutiny of 1857, it was heavily shelled by the rebels and was completely destroyed. For the next few years, services were held inside the tomb of Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan II. Christ Church was designed by Lt. Swetenham of the Royal Engineers and was consecrated by Bishop Cotton on 26th November, 1860.



Monday, 10 August 2015

Dzongu, North Sikkim: Holy Land of the Lepchas

North Sikkim Travelogue Part 3

For the last leg of our 2014 trip to North Sikkim, our travel agent suggested that we try the Mayal Lyang homestay in Dzongu. Bordered by the Teesta River in the south-east, Tholung Chu River in the north-east and by rising mountains in the west, Dzongu is a forested mountain valley that is a reserve for the Lepcha people. The Lepcha are the indigenous people of Sikkim, with their own language and script, distinct culture and cuisine and are mostly Tibetan Buddhist. Our hosts were Gyatso and Samsay Lepcha, and their family.

 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Kamarghat Dwadosh Shiv Mandir, Prankrishna Chandra Lane

I was exploring the temples in the Chetla area of South Calcutta (Kolkata) when I found the Kamarghat Dwadosh Shiv Mandir, completely by accident. I was there with my friends Amartya, Soumyadeep and Sourav, visiting the Radhanath Temple of Mondal Temple Lane and the Baro Ras Bari and Chhoto Ras Bari of Tollygunge Road when a local walked up to us. All of us were carrying rather large cameras, so it was quite obvious what we were here for. Since we were photographing old temples, he asked us if we had seen the “Baro Shiv Mandir”, a group of 12 Shiva Temples which he assured us was quite old. With guidance from locals, all of whom were aware of the existence of the temple, we reached a large courtyard on Pran Krishna Chandra Street and found written on the wall the words “Kamarghat Dwadosh Shiv Mandir” and the date 1259, according to the Bengali calendar.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Teele Wali Masjid, Lucknow

Teele Wali Masjid, literally meaning “the Mosque on the Hill”, located in Lucknow’s Hussainabad area is a potentially controversial monument. To understand why I say that, you need to first know that the name Lucknow apparently derives from “Lakshmanavati”. Lakshman was the brother of Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana. Legend has it that Lakshman established his capital where Lucknow stands today. The hill in the Hussainabad area is known as “Lakshman ka Teela”, or Lakshman’s hill and Hindus believe that buried under it are the remains of Lakshman’s capital. There are also vague references to a Sheshnaag Temple being somewhere around the same spot. So Teele Wali Masjid is a Muslim monument standing on top of an allegedly Hindu site. See the problem?

 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore

Mysore’s Lalitha Mahal Palace has got to be the fanciest hotel I have ever lived in. I almost always stay in budget hotels, but since I was in Mysore for only two nights, my friend Sreyashi suggested this luxury hotel, built by the Wadiyar Kings of Mysore. It wasn’t frightfully expensive, plus I thought I’d have the chance to live in and photograph an actual palace, so we went ahead with the booking, and I can tell you, the Lalitha Mahal Palace did not disappoint.