A dollop of Bengal – Hazarduari palace

H could have been the magnificent Howrah Bridge that has almost become synonymous with Kolkata , Hilsa – the favorite fish of Bengalis , Hogg market  – the vintage market in Kolkata and Hooghly district – famous for Bandel church, Tarakeshwar temple, Hooghly Imambara and Chandannagore town which is renowned for lighting during Jagadhhatri puja. But my pick for the day is another iconic structure Hazarduari Palace in Murshidabad.

Hazarduari  Palace –

Hazarduari Palace
Hazarduari Palace – view from the front

Murshidabad is known for its historical lineage and Hazarduari Palace is the one of the most significant historical and famous tourist spots in the state. It was built by architect Duncan McLeod during the reign of Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah of who had Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under his power. It is located in the campus known as Kila Nizamat or Nizamat Kila that also houses Nizamat Imambara, Clock Tower, Madina Mosque, Chawk Masjid, Bacchawali Tope, the Shia Complex, Wasif Manzil, the two Zurud Mosques and the Nawab Bahadur’s Institution surrounding it.

Lion on the left side of Hazarduari Palace
The Victorian lion on the left side of the stairs

Hazarduari means the one with a 1000 doors. Out of these thousand doors, one hundred are false doors. If any person had ill-intentions that they managed to pull off successfully, the concept was to prevent him from escaping by creating confusion between the real and false doors. The palace has a grand flight of thirty-seven steps of stone out of which the lowermost step is 108 feet long . It is supported by seven huge pillars. On either side of the staircase, two statues of masonry Victorian lions are situated in sitting posture. The palace was the designated place for holding durbar and conducting meetings with the Britishers.

The palace is now converted to a museum displaying paintings, furniture, cutlery items and other antique pieces like the mirror where one can see the image of people standing on either side but not their own. This mirror had been kept in the durbar hall for the Nawab to keep an eye on his people and their activities. The durbar hall has a silver chandelier hanging from the ceiling that is believed to be a gift from Queen Victoria and is the second largest in the world. The main gates have Naubat Khanas (musicians’ galleries) over them and are so large that it is believed that an elephant with howdah could pass through it easily and comfortably.

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A dollop of Bengal – Goyenda

The alphabet G gave me a tough time to find a word with relevance in my life. While there was the famous Gorumara National Park in Dooars known for its breeding population of rhinocerous, Gadiara – a favorite picnic and tourist spot in Howrah, Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen – the vintage fantasy adventure movie by Satyajit Ray and Gopal Bhar – the iconic court jester in medieval Bengal, this series would have remained incomplete without a dedicated post to one of the iconic characters in Bengali literature – the sleuths/detectives/private investigators referred to as Goyenda in colloquial bengali.

Goyenda –

Feluda, Gogol,Kiriti,Akkida
Feluda,Kiriti ,Gogol and Akida Bengali books – my collection

One of the most popular detectives in Bengali literature happens to be Pradosh Chandra Mitter aka Feluda – resident of 21 Rajani Sen Road, Ballygunje, Kolkata. Accompanied by his cousin Topse and friend Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu, this character created by Satyajit Ray is popular among young and adult audiences alike. The stories have been brought alive on-screen by Ray himself with Soumitra Chatterjee playing the role of Feluda. Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Abir Chatterjee and Parambrata Chattopadhyay have been seeing playing this role in movies/web series since then but Feluda to most bengalis will always mean Soumitro as etched in their memories by Ray.

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A dollop of Bengal – Fish and Football

Considering the number of queries I had for this post, F should have been for Feluda – the sleuth in Satyajit Ray’s detective series. F could also have been Flurys – the vintage shop on Park Street or one of the best place for eating out – Free school street or the trademark Bengali style panipuri/golgappa called Fuchka (no we don’t add sweet to the tamarind water in fuchka). But my pick up for the day happens to be the deadly combo of fish and football.

Fish

Bengalis are traditionally known for their love for fish, specially the ones available in rivers. Infact their favorite food is always assumed to be machch-bhaat (fish and rice). From Rui(rohu), katla, chingri(prawns), chitol(chitala), basa to ilish(Hilsa) and many more, the local fish markets are nothing less than a sight to behold with the range of the species available. Few of the famous fish markets include that of Maniktala and Gariahat in Kolkata, Howrah and Digha.

Fish vendor stall
Inside one of the fish stalls in the Kolkata market

Fish is not just an item to be consumed in a Bengali household. It is also considered to be an auspicious item for a few rituals like marriage. On the morning of the wedding, the grooms family arrive with the wedding gifts (Tattva) that consists a set of gifts for the bride and her family (saree,cosmetics,bags being few of the items) along with the largest Rohu fish and turmeric paste for the ceremony of Gaye Holud/ Haldi. When the new bride is welcomed in the grooms family, she is either shown a decorated fish or made to hold a fish as part of the celebrations.

Football –

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Alone

The topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is Alone. What this basically means is capturing objects that appear to be alone or lonely. Through a set of three pictures, this is an attempt to capture the diversity in emotions associated with being alone.

The first picture is that of a lone monkey on the terrace of a neighbourhood house in Berhampore, India. With severe deforestation caused by high-rise buildings, the species have no option but to come to human habitation in search of food. The despair on its face owing to such a helpless and hopeless condition is heartbreaking.

Monkey and eroding humanity
A lone monkey in a world of eroding humanity

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2017 – the year of taking the plunge!

Just two days to go before we bid adieu to 2017 and welcome the new year. 

Since this is the 50th post on my blog and probably the last this year, I thought I would keep it about my personal journey this year. Three and a half months back, I started soniasmusings.com. It was born out of my love for the craft of writing, my desire to be self employed and my choice of being around to enjoy every milestone and growing phase of my toddler. I used to be a high profile Banker working with the country’s top Bank. Except a good profile, glamorous position and great pay, I don’t remember ever being very excited about my banking job. So while I won a lot of awards and accolades, my heart was never into making it bigger. However giving up all these to do what I thought I was passionate about took me more than a year. It materialized only after I became a mother. Having lost my mother to an un-diagnosed ailment in 2011, I became a motherless new mum in Sept 2015. Without anyone to guide me through this new phase of life, it was really difficult to cope up with the additional responsibilities in the initial days. A supportive husband, a doting father who doubled up both as the grandparents for my son and empathetic in laws helped me sail through this. I was determined to learn everything that was needed to take care of my son on my own. Six months later,when my maternity leave was about to get over, I realized that I had grown so attached to my role as a mother that going back to the corporate world had long ceased to be an option for me. Thus began the shift from Bangalore to Kolkata, the switch over from the coveted seven figured salary to getting nil credits in the account every month end.

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