Monday, November 28, 2016

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom
After witnessing the mesmerizing sunrise from the Tiger Hill we drove down to visit Ghoom Monastery (Dunggon Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery) and found the entrance partially blocked by enthusiastic local handicraft/woolen vendors. Most fascinating was their confident setup over the narrow-gauge toy-train line passing in front of the monastery. Yes, it is no arrogance or ignorance, and I can vouch for the fact that they maintain complete harmony with the passage of our sweetheart Darjeeling Himalayan rail carriage. They are so used to with the timings of the trains that they can pack and unpack their goods several times a day to perfectly synchronize with the tourist demand of the place.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom
The Ghoom Monastery follows the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and houses a tall statue of ‘Maitreya Buddha’ (Coming Buddha). I peeped into the ongoing prayer hall and then to the kitchen at one side of the courtyard where a cook was about to prepare butter-tea for the students/monks residing there. I asked him politely if I could wait to taste a sip of that rich stuff but unfortunately he was strict with his rules. In any Buddhist monastery whenever I see tourists facing their bums towards Buddha and shamelessly clicking photos, I feel like enlightening them with some basic etiquette, but, anger is totally an anti-Buddhist quality and I abstain from expressing it in Lord’s abode.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom
Next place on our card was the Batasia Loop and the War Memorial. Batasia means ‘a windy place’. This is a natural spur of the Tiger Hill Mountain around which the narrow-gauge rail makes a double loop between Ghoom and Darjeling towns. The sanctified war memorial built in the memory of army-men who sacrificed their life for the motherland, consists of an oval shaped raised marble platform with a tall bronze statue of a Gorkha soldier in ‘Shok Shastra’ along with a thirty feet high triangular granite cenotaph on an octagonal base, with the ‘Roll of Honour’ engraved on it.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom
The color-rich flower garden enclosed by the loops provides a perfect natural studio foreground for tourists to take snaps with the panorama of mountain ranges with snowy peaks at the background! There also you’ll find local sellers selling over humble rail tracks and a dozen of guys eager to show you more than a dozen of spectacular spots through their telescopes in exchange of few bucks. But we were too hungry to locate lands of Tibet or Nepal as warm breakfast was waiting for us in our guest house. We decided to leave Ghoom and return to our den.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom
We resumed our pursuit after nine and next place was Ava Art Gallery. As expected, photography was strictly prohibited inside the gallery, possibly as most of the arts were for sale. The late artist had some extensive collection of foreign currencies for display too. Soon we reached Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park which is the only specialized zoo in the country and internationally recognized for its conservation breeding program of Red Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and other highly endangered animal species of Eastern Himalaya. The reputed Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is also located inside the premises of the zoo. I captured plenty of photographs of myriad beautiful inhabitants of the Himalayan Zoo but you'll get to meet some of them only in my following blog post on Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - brief visit to Ghoom

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
Have you read the prologue to this failed trip to Darjeeling? As promised earlier, our taxi driver Bikram gave a wake-up ring-cut at three in the morning and it took us another one hour to part with our cozy blankets and finally wrap ourselves with needed woolens. Viewing sunrise from Tiger Hill is an experience in itself. In this post I’ll narrate only the sunrise delight of the second day of our failed trip to Darjeeling and the rest of the local sightseeings those followed in the day, starting from Ghoom Monastery to quality tea processing in Rose Valley Tea Estate shall be covered in my subsequent blog posts. Now coming back to much hyped Tiger Hill, it’s about 11 kilometers away from the heart of Darjeeling town and situated at an altitude of almost 2,590 meters. The earlier you start your journey better it is for you, because you’ll be able to win the rat-race for the tickets of VIP lounge in the watch tower there. We literally rushed to keep up with our plan, leaving the dark Ghoom railway station on the way and taking the steep narrow Senchal Road only to find that several other tourist-cabs had already participated in the naked-mile (well, you got to be an American Pie fan to feel the ambiance I'm trying to portray).
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
It was fully dark, so looking for surrounding nature along the route was totally fruitless. As presumed, we couldn’t manage the ticket for the top most tier of the watchtower, so settled with the middle tier tickets. At the top of Tiger Hill it was densely crowded (what’s new eh?) with vehicles and tourists… all from different geographies, in different garments and of course exhibiting varied behaviors… but only two things we all had in common were the urge/excitement of a ‘much heard’ sunrise and the apprehension of a cloudy sky! Yes the weather in Darjeeling is really unpredictable and no weather forecast can guarantee you a breathtaking sunrise experience even in the best of seasons (October-December & March-April).
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
On reaching the middle tier/floor of the observatory tower I found it bitterly unsuitable for any rich sunrise experience as the place was packed with tourists (waiting on chairs). I came down to the less pricey space without wasting any time and made a place for me and my camera among several other thirsty eyes. I kept waiting eagerly for a precious glimpse of Mr Sun while sipping coffee from local hawkers. The sleeping town of Darjeeling lying below us seemed totally indifferent to our struggle for space and collective prayer for a clear sky.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
A crimson hue brushed the starry sky as it transformed its blackness to shades of blue which got lighter with the running clock. Peaks of Kanchenjunga came out of the curtain with a saffron tinge and sun was yet to make his presence. Don’t get hypnotized to those snowy peaks of Kanchenjunga, or while trying to identify which one is Mt Makalu and which one is Everest… because if you get lost to those Eight-thousanders you’ll miss the spectacular sunrise on the other side of the frame and its heavenly reflection on the cloud!
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
At first a pinkish red circle was seen at the level of mountains… but how could it be sun as sun is supposed to come out of the horizon, isn’t so? Yes, you’re right, it was not the sun, but it’s apparition on playful clouds… the physics behind this is not that tough but certainly I’m not in an explosive mood to explain you all that. Soon the sun came out (at 5:45 AM) like a sparkling magical diamond with all his vigor and turned too energetic to capture by my camera sensor. People thanked almighty for the rewarding morning and slowly dispersed as the snowy peaks took up the bright light of the sun losing their crimson softness.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - viewing Sunrise from the Tiger Hill
As I’ve already mentioned, apart from the peaks of Kanchenjunga, Mount Makalu, Mount Everest and Mount Chumal Rhi, in a clear weather you may also be able to spot the town of Kurseong, Teesta River, Mahanadi River, Balason River and Mechi River finding their way down to the south. We finished our complimentary tea and resumed our local sightseeing. Our next destination was Ghoom Monastery which houses a tall statue of Maitreya Buddha and I’ll be talking about it in the following blog post.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train

A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train
“The craving for a delicate fruit is pleasanter than the fruit itself”, was the only consolation I could pour on me… but the sense of emptiness consistently mocked on my misfortune, scratching my fresh wound with hundred septic blades and projecting the flashback of December 2007! So many times I’ve been stopped out of several large railway stations whether it’s Kolkata or Delhi by people asking me if I need a confirmed Rajdhani Express ticket and I always hated those offers, and for the first time in my life I really prayed for such angelic pimp but nothing divine happened to this cursed fate. I’ve great faith on the fast recovery of human mind but also have the knowledge how much we badly adore to suffer from despair, so shifted my attention from the about to leave carriage to the puffing steam engine inside the loco shed and switched on my camera. Later on, fiddling with the golf stick, walking miles after miles up and down the hill in search of monasteries, taking macro shots of wild flowers, watching Bollywood movie in a hall packed with army guys etc were sure quality wines to my hopeless soul, but, after all alcoholic charm doesn’t last long making you vulnerable to your pain once again! Anyway, it is better I skip radiating my negativity for the moment and start narrating from where it had all started.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train
Spending Durgapuja days out of Bardhaman had been planned more than a month back. Being a family trip I had kept the venue simple and itinerary as relaxing as possible. The ‘Summer retreat for the Governor General of Bengal’ (during British Raj off course!) Darjeeling and one of its beautiful subdivisions Kalimpong was no virgin to us but no other place could adjust itself better in our less than a week time slot. So, in search of Himalayan air, Kanchenjunga’s lure, flavor of some world class tea, Tibetan touch and Darjeeling Himalayan rail fantasy we boarded Darjeeling Mail from Bardhaman on 17th Oct (2012) night. Night journey in Indian Railways is usually uneventful unless when you’re traveling alone (in that case you tend to remain more cautious of your belongings lying down the berth). But it was a family trip, so the night was well utilized on cozy sleeping only to board down the Darjeeling Mail in New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP) at around fifteen to nine in the morning of 18th. The station seemed not too congested with fleeting soles but as we ventured outside the ambiance changed drastically owing to the presence of thousands of taxis and their drivers who’ll pull you or lure you with various offers/bargains. It’s not that bad as well as you’ll be the one at the end to negotiate and agree on a justified deal depending on the season and the vehicle you want to hire. You can also avail shared jeeps and that is really advantageous for solo guys.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train
We agreed for a clean looking Sumo Spacio Gold and the journey was really smoother than we had anticipated. At this point you may wonder why didn't I book my ticket in toy-train... well, I better not bring this topic right now. Taking the Hill Cart road from Siliguri we drove through Tindharia and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, from where the climb got steeper and the vehicle kept ascending parallel to the currently non-functioning narrow gauge line (it is only functioning from Kurseong to Darjeeling presently) of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR), popularly known as Toy train. We stopped for a tummy-worshiping break at Kurseong and tasted some Momo with coffee. Actually, owing to my ‘too many years in Nepal’ status I don’t have slightest craze for Momo but I didn’t want to deprive my loved ones from its pleasure. Soon we crossed Ghoom and reached Darjeeling town to find our pre-booked Kakjhora Forest Rest House is in the outer edge of the town. From Ghoom itself we kept pacing towards our destination almost side by side to a moving toy-train packed with tourists. The loud noise made by the tiny diesel locomotive pulling a three compartment carriage and filling the whole market, sometimes brushing the goods of the adjacent footpath stalls is the real picture-perfect frame for any traveler/photo-enthusiast. Unfortunately I couldn’t manage a fitting shot from my moving taxi.
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train
The fine interior of the rest house and the homely lunch prepared for us by caretaker’s mother made us forget the woe of staying away from the center of the town. Added to that the pleasant sight of passing by toy-train at regular interval of time by the road down our room clearly visible from giant windowpanes gave me enough solace to opt for a post-lunch nap. There was no hurry to awake us before dusk and then we strolled towards mall road. It was quite an exhaustive uphill walk and I could very clearly feel the extra effort my limb muscles were putting in. I decided to seal the next day’s itinerary, so booked an I10 at Upper Club-side Vehicle Owner’s association for local sightseeing plus sunrise viewing from Tiger Hill. Then, with our remaining vigor and clock time (in Darjeeling they close the market pretty fast!) we didn’t really have much options. A shopping hour seemed more appropriate that loitering around the mall, so hunt for winter-wear/woolens followed. I suffered the same fate like shopping in Nepal… I couldn’t manage a likable hoodie of my size, although that didn’t hamper others’ purchases (yea, poor me!).
A failed Trip to Darjeeling - the temptation of Toy Train
Oh it was time to return as the caretaker had requested us to do so before nine. There was no time to take my dinner outside (reason being, I was the only fool among us not to order food in the guest house itself)… I packed a Pizza from Boney’s snacks bar. In the middle of the way we passed by the sleeping toy-train station whose presence was being trumpeted by a couple of barking dogs and standstill puffing steam engines veiled by foggy air and dark shadows. After returning back when rest of us enjoyed the steaming fresh food I realized the futility of settling with an Italian item (Hey don’t presume that my pizza was bland). Next day our taxi was supposed to pick us up by three in the morning, so, switching off the TV with an early goodnight was the sensible decision. Do not forget to be back in your leisure to read my next blog post on mesmerizing Sunrise over the Tiger Hill

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia

Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
This motorcyclist's quest for salvation was not yet over even after visiting two under-hyped monuments of Pandua, much popular Bandel Church and the gross under-maintained Hooghly Imambara. The last destination for the day was still waiting to welcome me. I bid a reluctant adieu to the Hazi Muhammad Mohsin's Hooghly Imambara and throttled hard for Bansberia. The town of Bansberia lies on the bank of River Ganga, hardly five kilometers far from where I had started my Hooghly safari. My target was Hanseswari Temple, a five-storied Hindu temple, more than 200 years old, housing the idol of Goddess Kali (Hanseswari) as the primary presiding deity. Hanseswari Temple seemed to be the most valuable treasure of the otherwise modest looking town of Bansberia. With easy guideline from a helpful local guy I could reach the beautiful temple. Oh man, it resembled more like an European castle at the very first glance!
Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
Oh man, the Hanseswari Temple resembles more like an European castle at the very first glance!
This 90 feet high, colossal Hanseswari Temple, presently under the preservation policy of Archaeological Survey of India, was constructed by Raja Nrisingha Deb and Rani Shankari in the beginning of the 19th century. The five-storied temple was constructed based on Tantric principles on the structural anatomy of human body; quite intriguing right? You’ll find thirteen tall towers/minarets with blooming lotus bud over their summits, which were actually responsible for giving me the in initial illusion of Western castle.
Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
Ananta Vasudeva Temple was constructed in traditional Ekaratna Style.
The chief deity Hanseswari (one of the many forms of Goddess Kali) is blue in color with four hands and the idol is made up of Neem (Azadirachta indica) wood. The official priest told me that the idol was 300 years old, which I couldn’t verify from any second source though. The temple also houses a white-marbled Shiva linga. You’ll be glad to spot a second temple in the same complex displaying exquisite terracotta designs- Ananta Vasudeva Temple, which was constructed in traditional Ekaratna Style, with curved cornices and an octagonal tower.
Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
This is not any structure of Bishnupur, but the Ananta Vasudeva Temple at Bansberia!
Hanseswari Temple along with Ananta Vasudeva Temple appeared in the healthiest state compared to other things I had visited in the day, except of course the Bandel Church which was equally well maintained. While I was photographing the terracotta works it started drizzling which bought me some time to relax by those archaic pillars and watch the grassy lawn turning greener with every drop of rain!
Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
While I was photographing the terracotta works on Ananta Vasudeva Temple, it started drizzling.
The return ride to Bardhaman was uneventful as expected except the yummy noodle en route in a motel (I know hunger is the best sauce). At the end of the day I happily joined my family for dinner clocking around 175 kilometers, with the satisfaction of exploring few tourist jewels of Hooghly district, and most importantly riding after a good gap. Irving Wallace had said, “Every man can transform the world from one of monotony and drabness to one of excitement and adventure” and that transformation is not going to happen unless you step out of your comfort zone. So, travel hard and keep clicking photos on the go!
Visit to the Hanseswari Temple at Bansberia
Hanseswari Temple was constructed based on Tantric principles on the structural anatomy of human body!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera

Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera
Nowadays whenever you go for an outing, be it zoo or Zimbabwe, you’ll definitely come across several fellow-merrymakers walking around with mammoth cameras which resemble more like portable canons of Rajput era. Those gears certainly look posh and give you a feeling of inadequacy with your teeny-weeny point and shoot camera. Before I proceed let me clarify that this article is solely based on my experience with Point and Shoot photography so far and it may come handy to beginners. If you are somewhat veteran in this beautiful photosphere it is high time you share your photography expertise to improve photography enthusiasts and wannabes like us. Coming back to what I was saying, do not let your morale go down by the bulky photographic gears of your co-travelers. Truth is, it is our mind in coordination with our eyes which captures a frame. So, how to click great photos with your point and shoot camera? Answer is pretty simple: with flexible eyes and an open mind! Yes, you got to nail it deep into your brain that, unless you’re planning for professional photography a decent point and shoot camera is not inadequate for nurturing your hobby.
Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera
Trust me, your point and shoot camera can produce as good photos as you would have captured with a budget DSLR. You will come across many freely available tutorials on how to take great photographs with your point and shoot camera. Here I won't be repeating those same photographic tips. Only aspects practically possible by a fully automatic point and shoot camera will be discussed here. I won't even include much photographic terminologies because I know how intimidating they might appear before a complete newbie.

<01> Understand and accept the limitations of your point and shoot camera. Hold on… don’t skip this point because it’s the most vital yet underrated one. This understanding will take some time and develop as you get familiar with basic photographic terms like Focus, Aperture, Shutter speed, ISO etc. Rather than lamenting on what your point and shoot camera can’t do, cherish on those things it can do. Like some of us complain about the poor quality of low light photographs taken by our point and shooter but never give it a thought on how many night photographs we really take. By seeing a TV commercial where a camera is freezing a flying hawk in utmost perfection you may get hesitant towards your point and shoot camera, but if you see out of your window you may find another bird sitting idle over a branch waiting for you. Cutting it short, what I want you to do is exploiting all abilities of your camera (you’ll be amazed by some of the shots taken by your modest point and shooter!) instead of half heartedly drooling over somebody else’s DSLR or pricey bridge camera.

<02> Take as many shots of a single subject as you can! Yes, in photography number matters. Considering the availability of cheap storage cards you need not be miser. Click, click and click until the fickle minded bird flies away- this should be your approach. Sometimes a picture may look perfect in the small camera display but you never know how clear it has been captured till you review the photograph in larger display. So, why to take chance, take maximum opportunity from the moment and law of probability if not your photographic skill will gift you some shots worth preserving. Like when I take bird, flower or insect photos I take around 20-50 similar frame and out of them 3-6 photos come quite pleasing. It holds true for landscapes too, you never know when slight change in angle drastically improves a composition!
Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera
<03> Come closer to the face when capturing people. Don’t try to capture head-to-toe and spoil the warmth of human face… after all you’re not photographing for police record right? Face is the first thing that steals our attention unless one is pervert. So, if you can capture the expression in a human face, even a part of it, your job is done. If you have to cut out your friend’s imported Italian shoe from the frame, don’t hesitate, but be careful to capture his face.

<04> Photograph people at eye level, not from above or below. Remember, we want to or get compelled to look at people looking back at our eyes and this principle holds true for photographs as well. If you have to bend down and spoil your denim to snap a kid or step over a stool to photograph a giant be a sport. You’ll be profited with livelier photographs right from your simple point and shoot camera! A point to be noted here which is also applicable for the previous advice is, if experimentation with various angle is your target, then forget these two things and go as you like.

<05> Capture less in a frame. Decide what you want to photograph and stay focused and loyal to it. Overcrowding a frame with an attempt to include too many things in it makes the overall photograph unworthy. Sometimes a composition with too many elements may appeal to our naked eyes. But you’ve to understand that the captured photo in the camera won’t have the blessing of a wide range of vision or depth perception unlike our eyes, making the image dull to look at. So always choose a subject, eliminate anything that’s distracting us from the subject, recompose and press your shutter.

<06> Avoiding photographing in the middle of the day. Before 9 AM and after 3 PM should be good enough for outdoor photography. If at all you’ve to photograph in the midday, take few simple measures like- avoid shooting towards the sun, station your camera below an umbrella to minimize sunlight falling over its lens, use forced flash option shooting the subject from a close proximity in case he/she is facing against the sun etc. If you’re a perfectionist, web-search ‘Golden hours in Photography’ to take your point and shoot photography to a higher level!
Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera
<07> Use the dedicated ‘Macro’ mode in your point and shoot camera to experiment with close up shots of flowers, interior of fruits, coins, marbles and any tiny thing at your vicinity. Practice holding your camera very steady and check the minimum distance up to which your camera can focus the object sharply. You’ll be astounded by a whole new world of macro photography. I won’t recommend you to try with moving insects as your point and shoot camera won’t probably able to cope up with their swiftness, pushing you into frustration. Try with still objects.

<08> Visit a park or garden at dark hours (of course don’t go to places where it’s prohibited at that time) with your point and shoot camera and take photographs of flowers from close distances with the flash on. You’ll earn some excellent rich colored floral pictures over black background making them so special. Give it a try.

<09> Photograph a subject from different angles and be bold to try those angles which we commonly don’t think of. Photograph a vehicle tyre parked over grassy surface by lying flat over the ground and see how interesting your composition becomes! Scratch your head find out unusual photographic angles and give a new definition to your point and shoot photography.

<10> Learn a bit of basic image editing steps, like- cropping, resizing, changing brightness, contrast, color tone etc This ‘easy to earn’ knowledge can make even turn mobile captures look like pro. I’m not pushing you to enrol for a Photoshop course (I too never tried PS) but you can try your hands gradually over easy ones like Irfanview or slightly advanced ones like GIMP which are legally free over internet. If you’re too stubborn to try them at least play with different white balances and scene modes stuffed in your point and shoot camera itself.
Click beautiful Photos with your Point and Shoot Camera
What I feel, these points are enough for a point and shoot photography beginner to get started in this never-ending marathon. Have faith on your point and shoot camera and it’ll pay you off with wonderful photographs. Be bold, persistent and flexible. You’re most welcome to share all of your hot and sour experiences with your new point and shoot camera. If you're confused how to choose your first point and shoot camera you may consider referring to an article I had published last year. For rest of you folks, doesn't matter if we have ever met in real life, doesn't matter if you're an ace photographer in Goa or the hesitant mobile phone clicker from Ghana, happy clicking photos on the go!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hazi Muhammad Mohsin's Hooghly Imambara

Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
Surprisingly it took less than ten minutes from Bandel Church to reach my third destination of the day- Hazi Muhammad Mohsin’s Hooghly Imambara. As presumed from the nomenclature ‘Imambara’ it turned out to be another majestic Islamic architecture with an extravagant entrance and a colossal clock-tower over that. If it all sounds really grand then pardon me now for breaking your piece of traveler's fantasy. You’ll be dismayed by the sheer lack of maintenance that has pushed this architectural elegance to inevitable decay, as evident from plaster torn out mossy walls, rough floors and broken glasses. A nominal five rupees fee was charged for the entry. Seeing the lack of information board when I inquired for any available information booklet on Hooghly Imambara, the old gatekeeper cum ticket seller coughed out loudly expressing his sheer helplessness explicitly!
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
You’ll be dismayed by the sheer lack of maintenance that has pushed this architectural elegance to inevitable decay.
The courtyard is large with a rectangular tank in the middle filled with greenish stagnant water and non-functioning fountain system, and fortified by archaic two storied building on all the four sides. If you walk straight from the entrance you’ll reach the prayer hall and the stairway at your right will take you to the zenith of the clock tower. There were separate stairs for ladies and gents which I appreciated whole heartedly only after reaching the top (guess it my friend). There were missing pieces of colored glasses, half broken chandeliers and sleeping lanterns all throughout the building, but all of these living proofs of misery failed to conceal one fact- even Hooghly Imambara had its day!
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
Like every other Indian monument you’ll find engraved names of shitty love sick Romeo-Juliets!
I took the twisted stairway to the top of the three storied clock tower which is about 150 feet high and contains around 150 steps. The huge clock with two dials, working uninterrupted since it was bought in 1852 by Syed Keramat Ali with 11,721 rupees from London perhaps from the same manufacturer that had manufactured the Big Ben, is the main attraction of the Hazi Muhammad Mohsin’s Hooghly Imambara. This marvelous clock is winded once a week with a key that weighs around 20 kg! While climbing the stairs you can peep through the locked glass doors of three bell rooms and witness the background instruments and mammoth bells working flawlessly till date.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
While climbing the stairs you can peep through the locked glass doors of three bell rooms.
Once you exert your maximum stamina like a puffing steam engine and reach the top you'll be slightly disappointed. You won't be able to go out further on to the open roof as the terrace door is kept locked for safety reasons. Still you can enjoy the beautiful underlying panorama comprising Hooghly River, surrounding greeneries, cityscapes, Jubilee Bridge and the aerial view of Imambara through multiple mini vents on the wall of the staircase. Like every other Indian monument you’ll find engraved names of all love sick Romeo-Juliets scattered throughout old walls and wooden structures of the Imambara. I know it’ll sound little less human, but honestly I feel like kicking their butts and make them write “I won’t ever write my shits on any monument wall” at least 10,000 times, of course on paper. The surrounding vista visible from the top of the clock tower soaked with the river breeze stabilized my ‘out of breath’ state and I felt good being there.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
You can enjoy the beautiful underlying panorama comprising Hooghly River, surrounding greeneries, cityscapes and the Jubilee Bridge through multiple mini vents at the top of the Imambara.
I came down to check out other parts of the Imambara. Most of the rooms on both side of the courtyard were locked. Presently they are used for official and Islamic teaching purposes. The upper floor seemed inaccessible to tourists as it was being used by a number of residing Muslim families whose roots are somehow attached to the history of the structure. The ceiling of the prayer hall (Zaridalan) is ornamented with chandeliers, colored lanterns and its walls are inscribed with holy words from ‘Hadish’. My semi-agnostic nature seldom allows me to sit and meditate under any religious roof. I went beyond the Zaridalan and the path took me to the river bank at the back of the Imambara where few young boys were bathing.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
An abandoned concrete sundial on the backyard of Hooghly Imambara.
The age-old rail bridge over Hooghly River appeared closer from there. A boat ride if available would have been bonus but there was no such facility at that moment. You’ll find an abandoned concrete sundial on the backyard. It was my time to say goodbye to the lofty institution. Later after returning home, on web-searching I came to know, that the Hooghly Imambara was constructed by Hazi Muhamad Mohsin from 1841 to 1861 with an overgenerous sum of 8.5 lacks rupees, over the debris of the older structure built by Muhammad Aga Motahar in 1717. I seriously doubt how many more days it’ll be possible to keep it erect with the meager revenue collected through entry tickets, unless it’s declared as a protected monument by UNESCO. Let me keep my hopes alive and come up with my riding tale to Hangseswari Temple at Bansberia in the subsequent post. Ciao!