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The Rajbari Bawali, Heritage Inspired

August 24, 2016 16 comments

The Rajbari Bawali

Heritage Inspired

Flashback I (5 July, 2008): I took a crowded trekker from the Amtala crossing on the DH Road for Bawali. I had no idea about what I was heading for. Getting down at the Bawali crossing I was guided by the locals past the the Bawali High School to the ruined but magnificent Gopinath Temple.

The Rajbari Bawali Heritage Hotel at night

The Rajbari Bawali Heritage Hotel at night

On my left was a pond and across it was the crumbling Mondal Mansion of Bawali. I spend the next couple of hours exploring Bawali from the Jal Tungi to the crumbling temples. Locals informed me that a non – Bengali gentleman was planning to convert the Bawali Mansion into a heritage hotel. (For details see: Bawali, Temples and Mansion)

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Pundooah (Hooghly), Minar and Masjid

November 13, 2013 16 comments

Pundooah (Hooghly)

Minar (Tower) and Masjid (Mosque)

Pundooah, the name normally refers to the twin city of Gour, now in Malda, which was once the capital of Bengal. Much closer to Calcutta, in the district of Hooghly lie another Pundooah. Both these places contain interesting historical relics.

Pundooah Minar and Bais Darwaza Masjid, Pundooah. Hooghly

Pundooah Minar and Bais Darwaza Masjid, Pundooah. Hooghly

The smaller version, at Hooghly, contains a five-storied minar (tower) and the ruins of an ancient mosque. It is just 61 km from Howrah and can be reached by the Burdwan Local via main line in one and half hour.

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Bandel ~ Church and Imambara

September 11, 2013 32 comments

Bandel

Church & Imambara

Almost a century after Vasco da Gama reached the West Coast of India the Portuguese started making their inroads into Bengal. Soon settlement started growing up along the rivers and the area around present day Hooghly became the Portuguese stronghold. By 1599 a church was constructed on the banks of the Hooghly, making it the oldest Christian Church of West Bengal.

Bandel Church “Our Lady of the Happy Voyage,” Bandel, Hooghly, West Bengal

Bandel Church “Our Lady of the Happy Voyage,” Bandel, Hooghly, West Bengal

But the good old days of the Portuguese were short lived. In 1632 The Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan attacked the Portuguese settlement which also had a small fort. The Portuguese were severely defeated and their Fort & Church were reduced to ruins. Several Portuguese and local Christians were killed. Father Joan De Cruz was taken prisoner to Agra, where he was thrown in front of a ferocious elephant. But the rogue elephant instead of trampling the priest to dead lifted him by his trunk and placed him in his back.

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Maluti, Rebirth of a Temple Town

May 15, 2013 23 comments

Maluti

Rebirth of a Temple Town

Located in the Dumka District of Jharkhand the non descriptive village of Maluti houses several temple with intricate art work.

Cluster of Temples, Maluti

Cluster of Temples, Maluti

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Jane’s Walk 2013, East Calcutta (Kolkata) Wetlands

Jane Jacobs

Journalist, Author, Activist and Urban Thinker

“You’ve got to get out and walk”

Jane Jacobs (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Jane Jacobs (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American–Canadian journalist, author, and activist best known for her influence on urban studies. She had no formal training in architecture or urban planning yet her influential book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (published in 1961) introduced ground breaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail that now seem like common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists.

Jacobs saw cities as integrated systems that had their own logic and dynamism which would change over time according to how they were used. With a keen eye for detail, she wrote eloquently about sidewalks, parks, retail design and self-organization.

A firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop, Jacobs encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work, and play.

Started in 2007, a year after her death, Jane’s Walks are held annually during the first weekend in May, to coincide with her birthday. Jane’s Walk consists of a series of neighbourhood walking tours. The walks are led by local volunteers and offered for free.

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Bawali Rajbari, Budge Budge, 24 Pargans (South)

February 20, 2013 62 comments

Bawali ~ Revisited

Bawali Rajbari, Budge Budge, 24 Pargans (South)

See also: Bawali ~ Temples & Mansions

Bawali Rajbari Courtyard, Bawali, 24 Parganas (South)

Bawali Rajbari Courtyard, Bawali, 24 Parganas (South)

As I entered the courtyard of the Mondal mansion of the Bawali, it was a pleasant surprise for me. In the three years since my last visit the crumbling Mondal Mansion of Bawali have been given a face lift.

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Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

January 30, 2013 18 comments

Komagata Maru Memorial

Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Komagata Maru Memorial, Budge Budge, 24 Parganas (South)

Just next to the docks of Budge Budge, about 30 km south of Calcutta (Kolkata), lies a strange memorial. Popularly known as the “Punjabi Monument” it is modelled as the Sikh kirpan (dagger), the white and green cement structure rises in a magnificent arch to touch the sky.

The memorial is dedicated to victims of the notorious Komagata Maru Incident that happened almost a century ago.

“The visions of men are widened by travel and contacts with citizens of a free country will infuse a spirit of independence and foster yearnings for freedom in the minds of the emasculated subjects of alien rule.”

~ Gurdit Singh

In 1914, a wealthy Indian fisherman settled in Singapore, Gurdit Singh Sandhu, did quite the unthinkable. He chartered a Japanese steamship of 3,000-odd gross register tonnage to transport a large number of his Punjabi brethren from India to Canada in a bid to outsmart the tough immigration laws the northern American country had imposed to keep Asians out.

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Rajbalhat ~ Ratha Yatra

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Rajbalhat Ratha Yatra

~ Rajbalhat Chariot Festival ~

“Char chak, chodda para, tin ghat; ei neye Rajbalhat” (four crossing, fourteen localities and three bathing areas; consists of Rajbalhat) goes an old saying. Today Rajbalhat is a non descriptive town in the Jangipara block of Hooghly district but its history dates back to the 16th century when it was the capital of the Bhursut (Bhurishrestha) Empire.

Ratha Yatra, Rajbalhat

Ratha Yatra, Rajbalhat

The 16th century temple housing the idol of Devi Rajballavi, after whom Rajbalhat is named, can still be seen to this day but sadly the temple has been renovated several times and in the process wiping out centuries of history.

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Palpara Brick Temple

August 1, 2012 2 comments

The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) website describes it as the Palpara Brick Temple, while the locals call it the Moth Mandir, Kali Mandir or even Shiv Mandir. The seventeenth century temple has long been abundant. It is recently been restored by the ASI and declared as a Monument of National Importance.

Palpara Brick Temple

Palpara Brick Temple

The brick built south facing char – chala temple (four sloped roofs meeting at a pinnacle) stands on a raised plinth and is believed to be built by Gandharba Roy in seventeenth century, although the foundation plaque containing necessary information like name of founder and year of foundation has long been lost. The temple standing on a square base, and crowned with the four sloping roofs, rises to a height of 21 meters.

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Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

July 25, 2012 17 comments

Ambika Kalna ~ 108 Shiva Temples

Space age view of century old temples

It was a winter Sunday morning almost a decade ago, when I desperately panned my SLR film camera (Vivitar v3800s) to shoot a panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The negative and the prints still at my possession but by limited dark room knowledge was not enough to stitch up the panorama.

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

Panoramic view of 108 Shiva Temples, Ambika Kalna

A decade later in April 2012 I was back again at the same spot where I panned my DSLR (Nikkon D60) to shoot a 8 shot panorama of the 108 Shiva Temples of Ambika Kalna. The shots were stitched up in a matter of minutes in my digital darkroom.

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