Travel and Culture

Travel and Culture

A Little Extra that we Indians love

By Somali K Chakrabarti The Extra Tomato ‘Sitabai’, a vegetable seller was a regular at our house in Mumbai.  Every morning at around 11 AM, she would come, carrying over her head, her basket of fresh vegetables. She went from door to door selling vegetables in all buildings in our housing society. Sitabai never budged on prices, so there was not much point in haggling over prices with her. She would ring the doorbell each morning. We helped her to put down her basket and she would sit on the floor near the steps. My daughter, then a little girl, less than two years of age, would watch the whole proceedings with a lot of interest, and one day while we were selecting vegatables from Sitabai’s basket, she picked up a bright red tomato. Sitabai happily let her take the tomato and gave her another one. When we offered to pay the price for the two tomatoes, Sitabai refused to take it. Image Credit The extra tomato was a huge treat for the little one. Sitabai had gained an ardent admirer. Every day, my daughter looked forward to her visit, and leaving aside all other activities, she would appear in front of Sitabai, adorning a charming smile on her…

Travel and Culture

Sikkim – The Land of Kanchenjunga – Part II

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti Continuing from the narration of my travel to South and East Sikkim in Part I , here I describe my journey through West and North Sikkim. West Sikkim Rangeet a spectacular river of silvery swirling waters with its source in a glacier of Lower Kanchenjunga Range in West Sikkim is fed by the melting snow and abundant monsoon rains. We travelled through interior West Sikkim and reached Geizing, the District Headquarters late night, after a gruelling road journey. .  

Travel and Culture

Sikkim – The Land of Kanchenjunga – Part 1

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti Sikkim, the enchanting Mountain State in the Eastern Himalayas, is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. The land of the sacred Kanchenjunga borders Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Kanchenjunga Mountain, the third highest mountain in the world, is sacred to the people of Sikkim. There are five peaks towering the sky, known as the ’Five Treasures of Snow’. These icy peaks of Kanchenjunga along with the enormous ridges make a formidable sight.  

Travel and Culture

Navigating through Mumbai at ease

By Somali K Chakrabarti In continuation with my posts on the Beaches in Mumbai and Heritage Structures in Mumbai, here I tell you about cab services that help you to move around Mumbai at ease. A typical trait of Mumbai that sets it apart from any other city in India is that the city never sleeps.  Full of people that traverse up and down the city, Mumbai continues to be one of the busiest cities in India, where folks are always on the move.

Travel and Culture

Popular Heritage Structures in Mumbai

By Somali K Chakrabarti Continuing from my last post on the Beaches in Mumbai, here I take you to some of the heritage structures in Mumbai. Mumbai was once a part of the Gujarat Sultanate in the 14th century, was ceded to the Portuguese in the 16th century. The Portugese gave away Mumbai (Bombay) as dowry to King Charles II of England, when he married the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza, in 1661. In 1688, Bombay was ‘sold’ to the British East India Company by King Charles II. Thereafter, Bombay replaced Surat as the headquarters of the Company on the Malabar Coast, The construction of the first railways in India, marked the British rule in Mumbai, as did the construction of many other grand public buildings of the colonial era. Mumbai has numerous heritage structures; most of these are located in South Mumbai, as historically the access to the city was limited to that area.   Here’s a list of some the most popular heritage structures of Mumbai.  If you are planning a trip to Mumbai, you may want to cover these during your stay…and don’t you worry about your stay, as you have some good Mumbai hotels for tourists as well.

Travel and Culture

A Naga Sojourn

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti Nagaland, well-known for its natural beauty and breath-taking pristine natural forests is also known for its warm and hospitable people. In December 1968, I was posted in Pfutsero in Kohima District of Nagaland, as Second-in-Command of a CRPF Battalion. The Battalion was deployed to aid the Government of Nagaland in maintaining Law and Order.    

Industry

Walking around the beaches in Mumbai

By Somali K Chakrabarti Neither by service nor fee Come I to mine estate — Mother of Cities to me, For I was born in her gate, Between the palms and the sea, Where the world-end steamers wait. ~Excerpt from To the City of Bombay, By Rudyard Kipling A home alike to the richest and the poor, Mumbai is marked by its typical chaotic, cosmopolitan and dynamic spirit. The narrow wedge shaped metropolis, surrounded by the Arabian Sea on three sides, attracts a large number of tourists all over the year. Beaches and coastlines offer a respite from the frantic life to us, the locals of Mumbai, and are a major attraction for the tourists. Naturally, alongside other tourist attractions, beaches are the must see spots in the itinerary of any of my friends or relatives who come to Mumbai. For those of you planning to visit Mumbai, here are some of the popular beaches in Mumbai.

Travel and Culture

Manipur – A Land of Jewels

By Bhudeb Chakrabarti Manipuri Dance – One of the eight Indian Classical Dance Styles Manipuri dance, from the ancient land of Manipur, is one of the eight and the finest Indian classical dance styles. As the legend goes, Lord Shiva, the great connoisseur of cosmic dance of Lord Krishna, Radha and the Gopis, ensured that no one disrupted the rhythmic beauty of the heavenly dance. When Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, desired to see the ethereal dance, he chose Manipur as the venue for re-enactment of the divine Raas Leela Dance.

Travel and Culture

Darjeeling Himalayan Railways in the 19th century – Vintage Pictures

By Somali K Chakrabarti “Mere Sapno Ki Rani kab aayegi tu….” This romantic Hindi song from the movie Aradhana, had enchanted hundreds of thousands of people from all over India in the 70s. Sitting atop an open jeep, Rajesh Khanna, crooned the lively song to woo Sharmila Tagore, who sat reading a book in the Toy Train, as the miniature steam engine chugged uphill in the scenic settings of Darjeeling. The “Toy Train” on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) line has been a unique feature of Darjeeling since the 19th century. Ferrying between Darjeeling and Ghoom (India’s highest railway station), the Toy Train moves through the hilly terrain absorbing the magnificent beauty of Darjeeling hills. Inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999, DHR became the first Hill Railway in India, and the second in the world to be accorded this status. Here are some vintage pictures of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway from the 19th century. Darjeeling Station, ca 1891 Darjeeling was the chief summer resort for the British government in Bengal.

Travel and Culture

Lucknow in the 19th century – Vintage Pictures

By Somali K Chakrabarti Lucknow, the city of Nawabs, was also once the city of adab and tehzeeb (etiquette and manners). Refined speech, manners, art, literature, poetry and “Nawabi” style cuisines once marked the culture of the city. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, on the bank of River Gomati, has a cultural legacy shared by Hindus and Muslims, with a strong influence of Persian court culture. The nobility consisted mainly of Shiite Muslims, who traced back their ancestry to Persia. Peppered with Persian vocabulary and idioms, Udru language spoken in Lucknow was known for its elegance, expressiveness and extreme politeness. Lucknow Urdu played a key role in the city’s cultural milieu. Lucknow first attained prominence in the 15th century under the sultans of Jaunpur. Later it was ruled by Mughal governors. By the 17th century, Lucknow was a prosperous commercial centre, and continued to flourish till 1856 as the capital of the independent Nawabs of Avadh (originally governors under the Mughals).

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