We got up early. We had to witness the beautiful sunrise over the century old ‘Howrah’ bridge. But, somehow we were late in our prep and by the time we left the hotel, the Sun had come up nicely. We’d known what time the sunrise would be but still failed to beat it.
To our dismay, the traffic was worst. We had not anticipated at this moment of hour. I Guess, the city starts too early. We had aimed to capture our bikes with the bridge at the backdrop but all plans went in vain. We could barely park our vehicles when we were on the bridge. And so, instead we took a U-turn and proceeded towards the start of the bridge in a hope to get a clear shot.
We were really taken by surprise with the city’s traffic. Now, we decided to move onto our next place which was the well known Victoria Memorial. We managed to capture some snaps but were unable to enter inside as the opening hours were very late. It was barely 6:45 am when we reached its gate!
The night before, we had asked Simranjeet about the places to visit and have food. And he had proudly suggested us ‘Sharma Tea House’ for authentic Bengali breakfast. And so, right after visiting the memorial, we bumped into this place. It was full of people (mostly seniors) when we reached there. We also struggled to find a parking for the bikes and finally had to park it none other than on footpath!
We had to return to the hotel to freshen up as myself and CSK sir had to get our bikes serviced. CSK sir’s bike needed the entire Chain kit to be replaced while I had to get my engine oil changed after what had happened in Bhubaneshwar.
So, after we got fresh, we went to the mechanic. We had to wait till he arrived at the shop as it was still early in the morning knowing that it was Durga Puja time. Mostly, all the shops remain closed during the festive time, but, the dealer (Mahindra Two Wheelers) went of of the way to help us. Also, by the time he arrived at the shop, we had to take shelter under a big tree as it was drizzling. Finally, we moved our bikes inside when the shutters were rolled up.
While the bikes were getting serviced, we had another round of small breakfast and tea with the owners. We were there for around 2 hrs and most of the time were spent in sharing and listening stories of each other. Finally, the bikes rolled out after getting a thorough wash. The bikes were literally sparkling from the sun’s rays which were seeping through the gaps of the buildings. We took a group photo along with the dealers and thanked them for their service during the festive time.
We then headed back again to the hotel. CSK sir were to visit a temple located on the outskirts of the Kolkata which was something around 40 kms away. The instructions had been come to him from his father and hence he had to oblige. With that, only 2 of us were left and so we decided to head to the market to shop some ‘Bengali’ saris!
It was a good hot afternoon and we set out to explore with my empty tank bag. When we were at the dealer’s place, the guy had recommended some 2-3 shops from where we could get good saris, and I had marked their location on the map. And now, we were heading in the shop’s direction. The name was ‘Dhakeswari Bastralaya’. Battling the traffic we reached the place. It was not far away from our hotel. We were lucky this time to find a parking spot quickly. We entered inside the shop and then the usual thing started. I had to send photos of the saris via WhatsApp and get them approved over phone. What an age we are living in! After much OK’s and Not OK’s I was able to selected a sari which was completely Red in color. It was for my Mom. I had thought that she would go for the typical White one with the Red border but, instead she choose to have completely Red. Kartik was also successful in choosing the sari. We tried contacting CSK sir over the phone as he too wished to buy one but, sir’s phone was not reachable. And so, we paid the bill and left he place. We were heading towards a place called ‘Park Street’ where we intended to explore and try our hands on some local delicacies. There was still more left to explore in the eateries section!
But, before we could reach the place, we got a call back from CSK Sir inquiring about the purchase of the sari. We again had to turn back and go the the very same shop to buy a sari for sir’s wife. The details were already shared with us and we knew which one to buy. Finally, we all three managed to buy the famous Bengali styled sari’s for our families. Myself and Kartik then headed back to hotel following which we had a heavy downpour.
It looked like it was still rainy season. Out of nowhere, it started to rain heavily. We knew the signs from morning and some time or the other, it was going to happen. The whole Durga Puja mood just lifted off! We didn’t had any other option but to sit inside and watch the rain. We were also feeling little hungry and so we both ordered some sandwiches along with tea. We were worried about CSK sir as he had not prepared for the rain gods.
We had assumed that the rain would continue forever and the only day which we had set free in Kolkata would be wasted as we were due to leave tomorrow towards our next destination. But, in the late evening the skies got cleared and the rain just vanished. We were almost ready and set to explore from where we had left the previous day. People who had vanished like thin air suddenly started to pour in on the streets and the atmosphere once again became lively. The lights adding the charm with all those reflections falling on the wet road below.
CSK sir had still not came and we both set out. I had got info about some must see Durga Pandals when I had visited the dealer in the morning for service. We had 3-4 in out list. They were quite far for each other and so at first when we’d decided to walk, we now thought of taking the bike for convenience. We had the fear of getting stuck in the traffic but the crowd management done by Kolkata police was really commendable.
Nobody was seen walking on the roads and everyone was taking the footpaths. The footpaths were properly barricaded and the crossings were allowed only at select locations and that too were manned by police.
Below are some of the photos taken during visiting each pandal. We had parked our bike at one safe location and decided to explore on foot itself. But, it was never going to be easy as the whole city of Kolkata was out on the roads.
For almost 4 hrs we were walking. I think we must have covered more than 15+ kms on foot. We were literally tired. Kartik had already given up and was forcing me to get back to the hotel. We had completed only 2 of the 4 planned. To cover 2 itself, it took us nearly 4 hrs. Finally, since it was already late in the night and considering that we had to depart the city the next day, we decided to head back home.
Meanwhile, we checked on CSK sir and he had safely returned back to the hotel and resting. We too did the same and upon reaching the hotel ordered some dinner for 2 of us. We had a veg fried and egg rice along with daal.
Most of things, which we had planned to explore in Kolkata were done. I felt super lucky to have arrived in the city when their biggest festival was going on. In the back of my mind, I too had planned some things to be carried out but they were missed. Especially, wanted to try the famous ‘Hilsa/Ellish’ fish. I knew, I had created a big blunder by not tasting sea food right when I was in Kolkata.
We slept around 11:30 pm and our tomorrow’s destination was Varanasi. We had now completed 2 of the 4 metro cities and halfway completed our journey.