Category Archives: Information

Durga Puja this year with happy ending

Four days of revelry and merriment came to an end Sunday as idols of goddess Durga and her four children were immersed by teary-eyed devotees in ponds, lakes and rivers across West Bengal on Bijoya Dashami.

The banks of the Ganga and other rivers wore a festive look, as puja organisers came in colourful processions to the accompaniment of drums to immerse idols of the goddess and her four children — Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik.

Hundreds of devotees, including the young, joined hands to gently lower the idols into the river. An element of emptiness at the end of the biggest celebration in this part of the country overcame all and sundry, but they consoled themselves shouting “Asche bochor abar hobe” (See you next year).

Central Kolkata’s Babughat, a popular stretch on the Ganga, was the centre of attraction as it drew a large number of people, even from abroad, who soaked in the festive spirit.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s truly beautiful and splendid. When I go home and show these photos to my folks they will envy me so much,” said a William Browne, busy capturing every moment of the immersion ceremonies on his sophisticated single-lens reflex (SLR) camera.

The immersion ceremony symbolises the end of the goddess’ annual sojourn to her paternal home and she returns to her husband Lord Shiva at their heavenly abode in Mount Kailash.

Tight security arrangements were made at the river banks and launches were kept ready to rescue people in case of emergencies, the police said.

“No untoward incidents have been reported. There is adequate police deployment in the seven ghats on the banks of the Ganga. Things are going on smoothly,” said an officer manning the city police control room.

CCTV cameras have been installed at the immersion sites, while the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has deployed 300 personnel on the seven ghats to ensure that the river is not polluted by dropping pith and flowers.

“We have earmarked spots at the river bank where these substances have to be thrown,” said a KMC mayor-in-council member (Parks and Squares) Debasish Kumar.

In the morning, married women smeared the goddess and her children with red vermilion and offered sweets and prayed for the well-being of their families and long lives of their husbands.

School students visited the marquees and kept their books and pens before the goddess seeking her blessings for a good academic record. As evening descended, large parts of the city got clogged as idols of big ticket community pujas were taken for immersion in big and colourful processions accompanied by a large number of devotees. Late in the afternoon, however, most of the idols in residential apartments or houses of one-time zamindars (big landowners) were immersed after being carried on hand as per tradition.

Members of some of these families also carried a symbolic clay of Neel Kontho Pakhi – a bird with a blue neck – with them. It is the carryover of a practice in the times of the zamindars who used to set free these birds before immersion.

There were long queues before sweet shops as people started visiting relatives and friends to hug and wish each other “Shubho Bijoya” – Happy bijoya Dashami.

Idols immersed on Dashami as Durga Puja ends

Kolkata, Oct 17 (IANS) Ending four days of revelry and celebration, idols of goddess Durga and her children were immersed by teary-eyed devotees in ponds, lakes and rivers across West Bengal on Vijaya Dashami Sunday.

Banks of the Ganga and other rivers wore a festive look, as puja organisers came in colourful processions to the accompaniment of drums to immerse idols of the goddess and her four children — Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha and Kartik.

Hundreds of devotees, including the young, joined hands to gently lower the idols into the river. An element of emptiness at the end of the biggest celebration in this part of the country overcame all and sundry, but they consoled themselves shouting “Asche bochor abar hobe” (See you next year).

The immersion ceremony symbolises the end of the goddess’ annual sojourn to her paternal home and she returns to her husband Lord Shiva at their heavenly abode in Mount Kailash.

Tight security arrangements were made at the river banks and launches were kept ready to rescue people in case of emergencies, the police said.

In the morning, married women smeared the goddess and her children with red vermilion and offered sweets and prayed for the well-being of their families and long lives of their husbands.

There were long queues before sweet shops as people started visiting relatives and friends to hug and wish each other “Shubho Bijoya” – Happy Bijoya Dashami. (IANS)

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Job Charnock not Kolkata founder: Saborna Parivar

The Saborna Choudhury Parivar Parishad claimed in 2000 in the High Court that Kolkata was neither found by Job Charnock nor is its birthday on August 24.

Parivar secretary Gora Roy Choudhury said the state government has intentionally tried to change facts recorded in history.

The Parivar says Charnock died in 1692 and the sale deed was signed on November 10, 1698, by his son-in-law Charles Eyre. Even that deed was illegal as two minor sons of the Parivar – Mahadev and Rambhadra – signed the deed along with Ramchandra and Pran. This deed was written in the Persian language and a copy of it is preserved in Victoria Memorial, but without an English translation. Finally, the British Library sent a copy of the deed to the family, reportedly at the intervention of the then Prime Minister John Major.

The Parivar says no individual can be the founder of a city; an individual can only modernise one.

According to history, Adisura, a relative of the King of Kanauj, was sent to Bengal as its ruler in the ninth century. As there was no Vedic system prevalent in Bengal at the time, Adisura brought five Brahmins from Kanauj – Sriharsa, Vattanarayan, Daksha, Chandra and Vedgarva. The Vedgarva family finally settled in Gangaram, a villege on the bank of river Ajay. They came to be recognized as the Gangopadhyayas.

The Parivar says the 13th descendant of Vedagarva Lakshmikanta modernized the city. He was born in 1570. His mother Padmavati died within three days of his birth and his father Zia renounced the world and came to be known as Kamdev Brahmachari. After completing his education, Lakshmikanta joined as an officer of the revenue department in the court of Bikramaditya.

After the death of the king, he was replaced by his son Pratapaditya. Pratapaditya was defeated by the general of Akbar Man Singh. Legend has it that Lakshmikanta’s father Kamdev Brahmachari gave valuable advice to Man Singh about the weather and other details. He also provided Man Singh’s army advice on how to avoid malaria and jungle fever in the Sunderbans.

Man Singh easily defeated Pratapaditya. In gratitude, Man Singh gave zamindari of eight villages, including Kolkata, to the Brahmachari’s son Lakshmikanta and conferred on him the title of Majumdar. He was the person who developed the village of Kolkata and according to the Parivar should be regarded as the real founder of the city. Lakshmikanta adopted the title of Roy Choudhury and his zamindari flourished so much that it is said he earned as much as Rs 12 lakhs from his properties in Kolkata.

Source: The Asian Age, 23 August 2000

Kolkata will enjoy lead-free Durga puja this year

Kolkata and some other places of West Bengal will enjoy lead-free Durga Puja in 2010 as the Puja committee representatives promised that they will use lead-free paints and other eco-friendly material for Durga Puja. On 14th August 2010, the Durga Puja committee representatives of Kolkata and surrounding areas had a meeting and decided to use the above said material to protect the environment from puja-mark pollution.

The Puja committee representatives will also meet municipality chair persons of South Bengal on August 26th to discuss the issue further. In 2010, the number of Durga idols will increase substantially and all of them may lead-free and eco-friendly. It is to note that Durga Puja 2010 in Bengal starts on 13th October and ends on 17th October 2010.

Destination West Bengal (a Travel Guide)

Major Cities

  • Kolkata (Bengali:কলকাতা)(formerly Calcutta) — is the capital of West Bengal and one of the largest cities in India. Kolkata is an ‘in your face’ city that shocks and charms the unsuspecting visitor. Abject poverty mix inexplicably with crumbling British Raj-era gems, sprawling gardens and historical colleges. Long known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata continues to spawn generations of poets, writers, film producers and Nobel Prize winners. If your trip only allows for a visit of one or two of India’s metropolitan cities, than definitely consider placing Kolkata on your itinerary. Love it or hate it, you definitely won’t forget the city on the Hooghly.
  • Asansol — is a city in Rarh in India. It is the second largest urban agglomeration in West Bengal and is an important mining and industrial centre.
  • Darjeeling — a beautiful hill station and center of a major tea growing area. Originally just a cluster of villages that was administered intermittently by Nepal and Sikkim, Darjeeling grew in prominence during the mid 19th century when, because of its climate, the British first established a hill station there after leasing it from the Chogyal of Sikkim and later discovered that the area was particularly well suited for tea plantations. In 1849, the British annexed the area and Darjeeling became a part of British India. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was opened in 1881 (it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the town became the de-facto summer capital of India during the days when the Raj was governed from Calcutta.
  • Durgapur (Bengali: দুর্গাপুর) is an industrial metropolis in the state of West Bengal in India about 160 km from Kolkata. It was a dream child of the great visionary Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, the second chief minister of the state. The well laid out industrial township was designed by Joseph Allen Stein and Benjamin Polk It is home to the largest industrial unit in the state, Durgapur Steel Plant, one of the integrated steel plants of Steel Authority of India Limited. Alloy Steels Plant of SAIL is also located here. There are a number of power plants, chemical and engineering industries. Some metallurgical units have come up in recent years. It also has National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, one of the NITs of the country.
  • Falta — is a city in West Bengal, India (SEZ).
  • Gadiara — is a small town in Howrah District of West Bengal, India. In the 18th century, the British build a fort at this place to guard the entrance by the river against river pirates. However the fort is now in ruins. It is situated at the confluence of the Hoogly and Rupnarayan Rivers. A good place for a day’s outing.
  • Haldia — is a developing port city in Southwest Bengal in India. Due to the decrease in water level, the old Calcutta port was unable to ensure the entry of the larger ships in to its dock. The cost of rehandling the materials in to smaller ships sharply increases the cost of import-export for the traders of Eastern India. Similarly, for trading with the Eastern countries like Japan, China India needs a good port in the eastern region apart from Vishakhapatnam. So, Haldia port was decided to established on the bank of river Haldi but very close to Bay of Bengal.
  • Howrah — Kolkata’s twin city. It is second largest city in the state. Howrah Station has the largest railway complex in West Bengal.
  • Ranaghat — is a small town beside the river Churni in Rarh of West Bengal. The name Ranaghat comes from the name of a Dakat Rana. This is the great character of Bandemataram by Bankim Ch. Chatthapdhay.
  • Sagardwip — is in West Bengal. A lovely destination combining pilgrimage and fun, situated on an island in the Sunderban, holds the charms of a completely unspoilt beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga.
  • Santiniketan —a town of Rabindranath Tagore’s university.
  • Siliguri (Bengali: শিলিগুড়ি Shiliguṛi) is a Metropolis city in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in the Siliguri Corridor or Chicken’s Neck — a very narrow strip of land linking mainland India to its north eastern states. It is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The town hosts over 200,000 domestic and 15,000 foreign visitors annually. It is the commercial nerve center ofNorth Bengal. Siliguri is situated in Darjeeling district, and though it is the district’s largest city, the district headquarters is located at Darjeeling. Siliguri is a unique city as 15 out of 47 wards of Siliguri Municipal Corporation falls in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district. The Indian army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Shashatra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Assam Rifles have bases around the city. The Bagdogra Airport is located within the Indian Air Force (IAF) cantonment area. Siliguri has an Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC) oil depot near the southern edge of the town. Siliguri is the third largest city of West Bengal afterKolkata & Asansol, and third largest urban agglomeration after Kolkata & Asansol.
  • Diamond Harbour — is a small town in South 24 Parganas District of West Bengalin India. It is situated on the banks of the river Hoogly. This name has been given by the British. The old name was Hajipur.

Historical Places

  • Bishnupur — (also spelt as Vishnupur) is a town in Rarh in India famous for its terracota temples.
  • Gour-Pandua — is an historical city in Malda district of West Bengal. The area saw three eras of glory – the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas and the Muslim Nawabs. The Senas, the last Hindu kings of Bengal, were displaced by the Muslims in the beginning of the 13th century. They ruled till the Battle of Palashi in 1757. There is no trace of any shrine or structure of the Buddhist or Hindu periods. Even those of the Muslim period are virtually in ruin.
  • Murshidabad — in Birbhum-Murshidabad of West Bengal was once the capital of Bangla, Bihar and Orissa. The last capital city of independent Bengal was named after Nawab Murshid Quli Khan, the Dewan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. It is situated on the banks of the Bhagirathi. A city of splendors and famous for its silk, was made capital of Bengal in 1717. The British shifted the capital to Kolkata in 1773.
  • Cooch Behar — is a city and administrative district of the North Bengal region of West Bengal earlier part of “Kamta” kingdom.
  • Tamluk or Tamralipta — is the district headquarters of Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal, India. Though there is some controversy, scholars have generally agreed that present day Tamluk is the site of the ancient city variously known as Tamralipta or Tamralipti. The present town is located on the banks of the Rupnarayan River close to the Bay of Bengal.

Beaches

  • Bakkhali — is seaside resort located in South Twenty-four Parganas district of West Bengal.
  • Digha — is one of the most popular vacation destinations in West Bengal, particularly for people from Kolkata.
  • Junput — is about 9 km from Contai town and is 40 km away from Digha by bus. From Kolkata side you have to drive to Contai and then take a left turn towards Junput. It is basically a small fishing village. There is no beach as such in Junput.
  • Mandarmani — the nearest train station is at Contai and the nearest airport is at Kolkata. Note that at the moment there is no proper road for the last 6km into Mandarmani, which forces you to drive along the beach, something that the locals encourage, but has a seriously adverse affect on the local ecology, not to mention the atmosphere of the beaches. But while driving on the beaches you need to follow the driving track or you risk getting caught in loose mud.
  • Shankarpur — is near Digha and the place can be reached by taking any bus going to Digha. You need to getoff at a place called Ramnagar between Contai (Kanthi) and Digha. The sea beach is a 15 minute ride by a car from Choddomile. You need to book a car to pick you up from Choddomile. Ask the hotel to do the car booking. Otherwise, you can go straight to the Digha Bus stand (a further 25-30 minute ride) and then hire a cab from there.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

  • Bibhuti Bhushan Wildlife Sanctuary (Parmadon) — is just over three hours drive from Kolkata and is popular for deer, snakes and varied species of birds. Located on the banks of Ichhamati River, you can take a lazy country boat ride through the forest or a refreshing jungle stroll watching the friendly deer prance around. Enjoy homely food at the tourist lodge of West Bengal forest department at Parmadon.
  • Jhargram — is the Sub-Divisional town of Jhargram Sub-Division situated in the western part of Paschim Medinipur District of West Bengal. Beyond the Gangetic plains of West Bengal, INDIA. Jhargram offers the most exotic beauties of undulating topography culminating in hill ranges of Belpahari, Kankrajhor in the North to the serene beauties of meandering Subarnarekha river in the South.
  • Jaldapara — is situated in the foothills of eastern Himalayas. The river Torsha flows through this rain forest sanctuary which is mostly covered with tall grasses, the sanctuary encompasses a luxuriant vegetation and a rich variety of wildife. The Malangi River also flows nearby from east to west. Riding elephants is the only way to move inside this forest.
  • Gorumara National Park — is located in is known as the Dooars. It lies in the Himalayan foothills and has great natural beauty. The park is located on the bank of rivers Murti and Raidak and has vegetation of riverine grasslands interspersed with savannah woodlands. Much of the forest is moist deciduous and sal (shorea robusta) is the most common and valuable tree. Teak, simul, siris, khair are also found here.
  • Sundarbans National Park (Bengali: সুন্দরবন জাতীয় উদ্যান Shundorbôn Jatio Uddan) — is aNational Park, Tiger Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in the Indian state of West Bengal. This region is densely covered bymangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. It is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile.