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PLACES OF INTEREST

Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge

It is one of three bridges on the river Hooghly and is the most famous symbol of not only Kolkata but also West Bengal.
    
Until 1943, the Hooghly River was crossed by a pontoon bridge which had to be opened to let river traffic through. There was considerable opposition to construction of a bridge due to fears that it would affect the river currents and cause silting problems. This problem was eventually avoided by building a bridge that crosses the river in a single 450m span - there are no pylons at all within the river.
    
The cantilevered bridge, also known as Rabindra Setu, is similar in size to the Sydney Harbour Bridge but carries a flow of traffic which Sydney could never dream of .It is the busiest bridge in the world. It's intriguing to stand at one end of the bridge at morning rush hour and watch the procession of double-decker buses come across. They heel over like yachts in a heavy wind due to the weight of passengers hanging onto the sides. In between  are lumbering bullock carts, hordes of bicycles and even the odd car. The ferries running from below Howrah Station are a more convenient way to cross the river and give you a good view of the bridge.

      

Birla Planetarium

Birla Planetarium

This planetarium, near the government of India tourist office, is one of the largest in the world and is located on Kolkata's Eastern metropolitan bypass. There are shows in English everyday. This 21st century marvel of science, communication and environment is the first and only institution of its kind in India. Set amidst trees and lawns, here one finds science out of doors and alive.

      



BBD Bagh ( Dalhousie Square )

When Kolkata was the administrative centre for British India, BBD Bagh was the centre of power. On the north side of the square stands the huge Writers' Building, which dates from 1880. The East India Company's writers have now been replaced by modern-day ones employed by the West Bengal state government, and this is where all the quintuplicate forms, carbon copies and red ink come from. Also on BBD Bagh is a rather more useful place, the Kolkata GPO, and on the eastern side of the square is the West Bengal tourist office.

      

Kali Temple at Kalighat

Kali Temple

Rebuilt in 1809 on the site of a much older temple. Kalighat ( as it is also known ) is the actual temple from which Kalikata takes its name. According to legend, when Siva's wife's corpse was cut up, one of her fingers fell here. Since then it has been an important pilgrimage site.
    
Kali represents the destructive side of Siva's consort and demands daily sacrifices. In the morning goats have their throats slit here to satisfy the goddess' bloodlust. During the day many poor people come here for a free feed. This is an extremely busy temple.
    
Mother Teresa's  Hospital for the Dying Destitute right next door to the temple and you are welcome to visit. The temple is about two km directly south of St Paul's Cathedral and is easily accessible by metro.


Marble Palace

On Muktaram Babu St, a narrow lane off Chittaranjan Ave, this private mansion was built in 1835 by a Bengali zamindar. The palace houses an incongruous collection of curious standing alongside significant statues and paintings. There's a private zoo here too, but the inhabitants are only slightly more animated than the marble lions gracing the palace lawns. It's open daily except Monday and Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, and entry is free with a permit from the Government of India tourist office.

 

Zoo & Horticultural Gardens

South of the Maidan, Kolkata's 16 hectare zoo was opened in 1875. Some of the animals are displayed in near natural environments, others in the pitiful conditions characteristics of Third World zoos. It's open from sunrise to sunset.
    
Just south of the zoo on Alipore Rd are the pleasant and quiet horticultural gardens. They are open from 8 am to 5 pm.

            
Nehru Children's Museum

This small museum, conveniently situated at 94/1 Chowringhee Rd, is worth visiting for its models depicting the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata. It's open daily except Monday from 11.30 am to 8.30 pm.

      
St John's Church

A little south of BBD Bagh is the Church of St John, which dates from 1787. The overgrown graveyard here has a number of interesting monuments , including the octagonal mausoleum of Job Charnock, founder of Kolkata, who died in 1692. Admiral Waston, who supported Clive in retalking Kolkata from Siraj-ud-daula, is also buried here. The obelisk commemorating the black hole was moved from near the GPO to a corner of this graveyard.

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