Kolkata / Puri trip – Kolkata portion

#1 Feb 28th, 2006, 02:57
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#1
I spent a month in India recently and was in Kolkata and Puri during most of Febuary. The Puri portion of trip is posted in the ‘Orissa’ forum.

In Kolkata I stayed at Hotel Crystal on Kyd St. (aka Dr. Isaque Rd.), which is next to Sudder St, for a few days. Having a room on the 2nd floor and in the back made the room fairly quiet – that is until the ongoing renovations/construction that seems so common to many India hotels picked up in the early morning. I would consider staying there again but since noise level important to me I would also check on current construction projects next time.

I had brought with a bunch of paper-based respirator masks from a lab supply company in the US to deal with anticipated smog in Kolkata. While the masks cutdown on vehicle emissions (rated to absorb 95% of particulate matter) they did not stop me from developing a hacking cough and having to retreat down to Puri within a week of being in Kolkata. Initially it was really disappointing as I had intended to stay in Kolkata area for a month, but Jagannath (Puri) called and it worked out quite well. I did do a bit of walking around Kolkata itself, so that and a series of long plane rides probably contributed to my respiratory ‘downfall’ as well.

I was happy to meet up with IM’ers Somnath, Jyotirmoy, and his daughter at a restaurant for lunch, and Somnath gave me some free Boi Mela (bookfair) passes that I put to good use.

Most of my Kolkata outings involved visiting different Ramakrishna (RK) institutions in the area. At first I tried to join the reading room of the RK Institute of Culture but ran into obstacle after obstacle, and looking back, it became a test of faith and perserverance of sorts, mixed with a bit of ego that wanted a RK Reading Room wallet-sized library card. It had seemed so simple – pay 4 RS and then get to read in a quiet, smogfree area for most of the day, but alas, I was to spend a period of four consecutive days revisiting there to try to get my offical application completed. On day one I found out you needed two stamped-sized photos for the application, so I set off trying to find a photo place in the neightborhood. Once I did find one I asked them to make me visa-sized photos, not stamp-sized photos, figuring that I might as well get mileage from the six photos they give you. The photo place accommodated me and kindly cut two photos down to stamp-size (my balding head barely showing now). Day two was about getting a recommendation from a high level official, or bank manager or a recognizable Swami to complete the application. This seemed like the ‘deal-breaker’ for me. Who did I know in Kolkata that could or would be willing to vouch for me as a character reference to use a library reading room? It did seem a bit overkill at the time, but, hey, this is India, right? The admininstrative clerks there tried to find a way ‘in’ for me and we were working on deal in which I would make a donation of 1500RS-2000RS as a lifetime reading room member, and then the internal staff themselves could ‘recommend’ me. (I intended to make donation anyways to RK missions, etc. so this was a reasonable option for me.) The problem was I had only enough money is US dollars at the time and they needed rupees and a copy of encachement receipt. Once again I left the place to exchange currency and was told to come back the next day. So I did as directed, showed up, and, wouldn’t you know, the place was closed for Republic Day. Not to make this day three trip a total waste, I decided to meditate outside their compound and found some nice stones to sit on outside an apartment complex. I had about an hour there before I noticed the shoes of a policeman right next to mine and a baton poking me to move along, so I did. Day four I came back with all the necessary forms, money, photos, etc. only to find out my contact was at lunch. After waiting around a bit, and finding him still out, I chucked the whole thing and headed to RK Belur Math center. I was still glad to visit the RK Institute as they have a beautiful garden there, a small museum (free) and I was happy just to be around this religious institution.

I had a more satisfying experience visiting Belur Math, which has RK Temple that is accessible to foreigners and a bookstore as well. (I also visited the Advaita Ashrama in Kolkata and bought slew of RK books -- they have online book catalog at http://www.advaitaashrama.org/). You can get to Belur Math in several ways – I favored auto-rickshaw/taxi to Hooghly Station and then took local train 2 stops to Belur Math. (If you do this be aware that train is is jammed packed and that you exit Belur on rightside and it is short ride from Kolkata.) Also note that there are pre-paid taxi fares from Kolkata train station – typical fare back to Kyd st. was 55RS, but back to Park St. was 95RS. The taxi drivers will offer you a ‘deal’ and even tell you pre-paid is closed – it’s not, it’s just that there is more than one pre-paid taxi station and some are not always manned. I ended up visiting Belur Math on the last leg of my trip coming back from Puri and went at night – it is much calmer, serene setting there but catching local train ride back took forever at night.

After visiting Puri for several weeks I returned to Kolkata a few days before my flyout and visited Dakineshwar. I hired a taxi for drop off there for 250RS from Park St. area. There is a wonderful mood in the evening there as you walk barefoot temple to temple and can listen to (or join in) to devotional singing. The highlight for me was sitting in the incense-filled living room of Ramakrishna’s where he gave audience. You can sit and mediate there for a little while as long as it’s not too crowded.
The grace of God is a wind which is always blowing.
#2 Feb 28th, 2006, 10:02
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#2

Thumbs up Thanks for sharing.

4 days to just use their library!!!!! It shows your love and dedication to Sri Ramkrishna and his philosophy. Thanks for sharing your Taxi experience with all. This will definitely help other travelers.
I am sorry; I couldn’t meet you during your second part of Kolkata visit.
One question is still there ion mind that how did you manage that camera adapter? Did you find it or ………….
Learn as if you were going to live forever. Live as if you were going to die tomorrow.

My Travel Pix...1
My Travel Pix...2
My Travel Pix...3
#3 Feb 28th, 2006, 11:46
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#3

Some pics

Hi...I didn't bother about the camera adapter anymore as I only took about 30 pictures and had two batteries with. I did come across a picture on a web site somewhere saying that 3 prong plugs more common in India, but all places I stayed at were 5-prong and my 2-prong adapter always stayed loose in them and didn't work. You reminded me that I was going to post a few pictures here - thanks!
Attached Images
Garland-sellers-near-Hooghl.jpg Puri-beach-scene-from-rooft.jpg Z-Hotel-garden-w.jpg 
#4 Feb 28th, 2006, 12:00
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#4
Hey, you're not allowed to take photos from Howrah Bridge.
.
SOS: Missing Person...

Please look at this thread, even if you are not in India.: Have you seen Jonathan Spollen?

He could be anywhere now: You might have met him, be able to help, or give information.
#5 Feb 28th, 2006, 12:50
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#5
Actually I think it's no photos OF the bridge...
#6 Feb 28th, 2006, 13:54
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#6
Very good please continue
#7 Mar 1st, 2006, 08:44
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#7
I don't have a lot more to say right now about Kolkata other than I see that I only got a glimpse of Kolkata based on rich postings of Jyotirmoy and others describing and reliving some memories.

Also, the first picture I posted is (obvious to some/many) from Hoogly bridge, but only at the very lip of the beginning of it . Is funny because walking just ahead of me were 4 Indian soldiers and their commander who had the most incredible, correct, straight-backed posture I've seen. There was no question as to who was in charge as he seemed so leonine in leading his little soiree across the bridge.

Other 2 pics are Puri as part of my Puri post since was combined trip.
#8 Dec 21st, 2009, 13:37
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#8
plz suggest budget accomodation in puri. We are planning for a visit in MARCH, WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER?
#9 Dec 23rd, 2009, 20:05
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#9
Except " Hans Coco Palm " and "Mayfair" , rest
of the hotels in puri are of Budget Catagory .
I suggest you try to book a Room in OTDC Panthanivas,
booking can be done from Kolkata or over the net.

The room rates are inclusive of complimentary breakfast.

Cheers
Rainbow Warrior.
#10 Dec 28th, 2009, 16:21
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#10
Dr. Chief

i have stayed in OTDC guesthouses in other locations, though very economic, rooms are a bit shabby type,

have u stayed in OTDC Puri personally? What are its charges?
#11 Dec 29th, 2009, 06:19
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#11
Hi There ,

These Particular OTDC Pathanivas at Puri is quite good , in terms of comfort , location and price.

Last I have been there was 4 months back , the reasons I liked this place is , its much quiter than "Swaragadwar" , has got a big lawn with a sort of Private beach area and a huge parking space.

Infact I stayed with OTDC at Rambha , Sambalpore
before and it was quite pleasant. Charges I have
forgotten , you can check on net or at Utkal Bhawan.

Could you please detail your experiences with other
OTDC guest houses which you are refering to.
#12 Dec 29th, 2009, 15:51
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#12
we stayed at OTDC, Chilka & OTDC Talshari. Though service is good but rooms were not at all good in Chilka, very shabby and full of lizards and other insects...rooms were slightly better in Talshari....however the managers were very hospitable and warm and their service were also very good.
#13 Dec 29th, 2009, 15:52
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#13
Dear Chief61,

do you remember seeing any lizards in the OTDC puri rooms, I know u will find it silly but I have great phobia against this mammal.
#14 Dec 29th, 2009, 21:06
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#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by chief61 View Post Infact I stayed with OTDC at Rambha , Sambalpore
before and it was quite pleasant.
This is very surprising indeed! I've stayed last year at the same place,
and it was one of the worst maintained places I've ever been to!
The food and service was also horrible. I'll never go back there.
Looks like the quality can widely vary even at the same place!

I've also stayed in the OTDC accommodation in Chandipur. It was
a little better, but nothing to write home about.

To speak the truth, I'm yet to find any tourism department owned
accommodation that is worth going to (I've stayed in Kerala, Tamil Nadu,
Karnataka, A.P., Orissa and WB govt. accommodations to date).
#15 Dec 30th, 2009, 04:11
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#15
You may be unfortunate , but some of the state operated
Tourist Hotels I stayed on was really good , Specially
GMVN , KMVN , JKTDC , and ofcourse our own WBFDC rest houses
in North and South Bengal ones.


Cheers

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