South Park Street Cemetery
This is an amazing old cemetery from the 1700's, and an oasis of calm in the centre of Kolkata. Great atmosphere, complete with gothic crows
From Varanasi we took the train to Kolkata (Calcutta). We stayed in the Super Guest House, thinking it was the one as mentioned in the 'Lonely Planet'. Turns out there are 3 Super Guest Houses in the same area (and ours wasn't the one in the guidebook)! It pays to get mentioned in the 'Lonely Planet'!
Sudder Street, where we stayed is a veritable soap opera of comedic proportions - Greasy-haired backpackers; professional beggars with babies as accessories; street-wise NGO ex-pats; good, cheap eateries (the best of which is the Zurich Restaurant); old colonial hotel madames (a la Fairlawn Hotel); leech-like hotel touts; bell-ringing rickshaw wallahs; big yellow Ambassador taxi cabs; people washing themselves and their clothes at the water standpipe; sellers of hand-made flutes; and troupes of drummers advertising the latest line in fashion shoes!
We met up with a friend, Austin, who works here with the Sisters of Mercy (Mother Teresa's outfit). He took us on a one-day whirlwind tour of some of the projects he's involved with. One of the best projects is for people with leprosy run by some 'brothers' of mercy. The place provides accommodation, treatment and employment for some 400 people. The experience
Trams in Kolkata
I believe Kolkata is the only city in India to have trams.
was somewhat soured by the train ride where some groping male hands took advantage and a boy 'borrowed' a baby to try and beg from us.
Another day we went sight-seeing and came across an old colonial cemetery on South Park Street, bags of atmosphere, tranquil and quiet but for the squawking gothic crows on the tall gravestones. We visited the absurdly obscene Victoria Memorial. This magnificent white marble palace (almost rivals the Taj Mahal) built in honour of our late Queen of the Empire, Victoria. Despite the honourable platitudes ('to civilise the world', 'that all should live in peace and prosperity' etc), if the money used to build this place had been put in to a pension fund for all of Calcutta's poor, they could all have retired peacefully!
From Kolkata we took the train to New Jalpaguri and from there the toy train to Darjeeling in the Himalayas.
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