E is for Eden Gardens – the mecca of cricket, Ecopark – the biggest park in India situated in New Town- Rajarhat and Entally – one of the oldest localities in Kolkata, but for me E is and will always be the heart of the city –Esplanade.
Situated in central Kolkata, this is the area from where the first tram and then the first underground metro started. It is also one of the busiest areas with 2 to 3 lakh vehicles passing during the rush hours each day. Esplanade has a bus terminus near Shahid Minar from where buses connecting spots within the city as well as places within the state begin their journey. Walking down the streets give a feeling of the bygone era. Most of the vintage cinema halls like Metro, New Empire and Lighthouse have been mostly replaced by multiplexes and malls. The pavement has branded showrooms on one side while street hawkers selling a range of items on the other. It is difficult to walk through the crowded place with thriving business on the street side stalls.
An old shop called Symphony in the surrounding was famous for stacking rare collection of music cassettes from all over the world. If a cassette was not available here, it simply implied that it would not be available anywhere else. The oldest five-star hotel of the city Grand Oberoi known as the Grand Dame of Chowringee is located near Esplanade metro station. The first multi-storeyed AC complex Sreeram Arcade was opened in this area. The street shops are a delight to shop at if one is pro at bargaining. One gets quality products for prices as cheap at 100 INR. Purses, soft toys, artificial jewellery, dress materials, cosmetics are few of the items in high demand. Apparel Shops like Sumangal and Milaan selling clothes and dress materials are much sought after even today. The place is also famous for street food. New market is located just a few minutes away.
The personal angle –
Every visit to and from Kolkata by bus ended or began from Esplanade. This was the first place in the city that I had grown up to be familiar with. The first movie that I ever saw in the city was Ajnabee in Metro cinema. I hadn’t explored this area much during my student life but post wedding, every trip to the city meant a day dedicated to street shopping at Esplanade with the husband. And now that we are settled here, Esplanade is gradually becoming a must visit destination for us quite frequently.
Stay tuned for some interesting subjects on F tomorrow.