Showing posts with label Kolkata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kolkata. Show all posts

Saturday, 28 March 2015

New Market, Kolkata, West Bengal: Let Me Shop a Little More

 Photo source:
New Market...I’ll call it the shopaholics’ heaven. Old, famous and busy ever, this place is just where you’ll want to be if you are on a shopping spree. Also known as the Hogg market, this place has everything, yes, everything to offer. From food corners to jewelery shops to gadgets and gizmos, well, the list is endless, and that too under one roof! Bargain as much as you want here. It is THIS liberal!

Once you are there, just devour the whole of the market...there are over 2000 shops. Girls! You will find shiny jewelery stores offering you earrings, from the tiniest studs to large jhumkas, bangles from a large range of colors, neck pieces, bling blings, anklets, toe rings and what not! Match these with your clothes and wear! Speaking of clothes, you’ll also get a wide range of clothes, from kurtis and leggings, to saris, salwar kameez, tops and t-shirts, pullovers, jackets and belts, jeans, gowns and the list goes on. Further, you’ll never get soft toys as cheap as in here.

So, if you love to own and display a huge bunch of these at your home, like I do, then New Market is the name! And guys don’t panic. You have your share too! You get all kind of gizmos you were dying to own. Don’t have money for an I-pod?? That’s OK. You’ll get something as good as that in New Market! You have a wide range of footwear too, from simple sandals to kolhapuris to high heels, shoes and boots. And buying bags, small or big, clutches or backpacks, athletic bags or baguettes, laptop bags or slings, is always welcome and never regretted! And don’t only keep searching just on the surface. There is an underground shopping mall too, the Simpark mall, fully air conditioned and elegant. I bet you’ll not want to come out of it.

Photo source: Kolkata Chromosome
Accessories and clothes aren’t the only things here. You have almost all necessary items for your household too. Bin bags, laundry bags, pen stands, tables, table covers, sofa covers, dining mats, dinner sets, cutlery, bed lamps, wall hangings, you’ll find practically everything for decoration, including fresh flowers.

Once you are done with your shopping, you can enjoy a glass of fresh lime soda or the more natural lemon juice with pudina. Taste Kolkata’s age old delicacy...phuchkas with tamarind water. Lick a kala khatta. Enjoy a cup of lemon tea at the entrance of Simpark mall. Actually you can comfortably sit there and sip while the wind blows. Have authentic biryani with raita in restaurant Aminia or Nizam’s and do order a pudding in your desserts. But for a better taste of desserts, visit “Scoop”. You can also go for Bengali food in Kasturi or Radhuni restaurant. Chicken and pizza lovers, you will not want to miss Dominos and KFC here, right?? Try momos at “Wow! Momos”. Ice cream and fruit juices corners are everywhere. Beat the heat with these. Well, I have listed just a few. There are lots more. Just explore and discover! There’s even a fruit and vegetable market. Go on....try this as well!

So travelers, remember this address. Its Lindsay Street, Esplanade, Dharmatala, Kolkata. Have a happy and safe stay! Shop till you drop and smile!

Kumortuli, Kolkata, West Bengal: Where the Gods Come to Life

Ma Durga - Kumortuli
In India, Saratotsav or Durga Puja, the annual Hindu festival, is most celebrated in Kolkata. The city of joy becomes busy and is all lit up for the occasion.

The shiny pandals, elegant idols, the aroma of burning incense, the chanting of mantras, the dhakis playing their dhaks, together take you into a deep trance.

As the festive season approaches, there’s a small place in the city itself, which becomes even busier. Kumortuli (a.k.a Kumartuli), or the potters' town, is the place where the beautiful idols are hand crafted, hued and adorned.

It’s been alive for more than 300 years and not only has it grown old, but also gained immense fame with the passage of time.

Durga idol in the making
Kumortuli is not a fancy place at all. In fact you’ll encounter a lot of narrow lanes and muddy streets. Most of the shops are in dilapidated conditions, with leaky roofs and dirty floors, work space poorly lit and damp.

But, if you are an ardent art lover, you’ll forget your discomfort and awe at the stupendous creations. Look around! There are idols everywhere, some as small as your palm, others as tall as 15 feet! The idols are supplied in places all over Kolkata and even abroad.

There are other shops too, which sell the weapons and other accessories needed to decorate the idols. Photography is allowed, but not without a fee. Visit any time round the year, and enjoy this unique place, especially during the Durga Pujas.

The gullies of Kumortuli

Now, making idols is not a piece of cake, we all know that. The techniques of this age old practice have been passed on from one generation to the next in Kumortuli, and the fire, thus, kept alive. Long, tedious hours of labor, immense patience and teamwork can only give rise to a complete idol.

Firstly, the framework of bamboo and straw is made, upon which wet clay is applied. The clay mostly comes from the river bank nearby and the ritual is that the first handful of clay should come from a prostitute’s house.

Layering the clay is the toughest part. It has to be thoroughly mixed so that it doesn’t loosen and fall off. Cracks appear when the clay dries. So, pieces of cloth are soaked in clay and wrapped around these cracks.

The next step is the painting of the idol. An initial coat of white color is applied to the structure, followed by a yellow one and lastly a red one. All these colors are earth colors, which are found as such in nature. After this, the detailed painting session starts.

The idol makers of Kumortuli paint the eyes of Goddess Durga last, following the tradition of Chokkhu Daan on the day of Mahalaya, which is a week before the pujas. The idols are finally varnished, false hair glued, dressed and decorated. 

Goddess Durga idol
And, after so much of struggle and earnest endeavors, it’s painful to watch the idols being given away to the holy Ganges on the day of Vijayadashami. Sadly, this is the tradition, which has to go on forever.

Leaving the dark side aside, Kumortuli is a wonderful place, an endless tale of history and culture and an apt destination for all the lovers of aesthetics. When are you visiting it?