Q ended up giving me sleepless night for the lack of options to write on. So I decided to feature one of the latest offerings of the city in tems of the mall cuture – Q for Quest Mall.
Quest Mall –
Located on Syed Amir Ali Avenue in Park Circus area of Kolkata, Quest Mall is a new addition to the city that already boasts of Forum Mall, Acropolis Mall, South City Mall, Mani Square and the two City Centre Malls. Yet what stands out in this luxury retail hub is the huge number of international brands that have launched their stores here. Its impressive facade is a mesmerizing interplay of solar-powered lighting against a modern and energetic asymmetrical structure – inspired by India’s varied culture and natural beauty. With a shopping area of 730,000 sq ft and parking for 1,300 vehicle, it is one of the largest malls in the city.
P could have been Park Street – the food lovers paradise in the city, Peter Cat – the restaurant redefining Chelo Kabab, Poila Boisakh – Bengali New Year celebrated on 15th April this year, Poush Mela – the annual fair marking the beginning of harvest season specially famous in Bolpur, Pranab Mukherjee – the ex President of India and Prasenjit Chatterjee – the fifty something reigning superstar of Bengali cinema. But I decided to feature one of the premier institutes in the country Presidency College – now University in today’s post.
Presidency College /University –
Presidency University formerly called Hindoo College and then Presidency College is a public state university located in College Street, Kolkata. The ‘Hindoo College’, established in 1817 was transformed into the ‘Presidency College of Bengal’ in 1855. On 23 July 2010, the Government of West Bengal published the gazette notification completing all the legal formalities for Presidency to become a full university.
O can be labelled as an important alphabet in Bengali vocabulary. The pronunciation of quite a few words alter under the strong influence of this alphabet. For example, Amitabh Bachchan is pronounced as Omitabho Bochchon, Sachin becomes Sochin and Arijit Singh is Orijit Singh. For the feature, Oudh 1590 – the famous Awadhi cuisine restaurant in Kolkata, Oshtomir Onjoli – the integral part of Pushpanjali on the morning of Durga ashtami, Oxford Bookstore with a coffee shop on Park Street were the few options that were being considered. But the one that makes it to the list is one of the famous ghats in the city – Outram Ghat.
Outram Ghat –
Outram Ghat is a ghat built-in memory of Sir James Outram during the British era, along the river bank of Hooghly (a distributary of Ganges river) on its bank of the Kolkata. During colonial era it used to be a key port and the main mooring point for ships to East Bengal and Burma.
N could have been Naxalbari in Siliguri famous for Naxalite – Maoist insurgency, Nabanna – the building in Howrah which is houses the state secretariat of Bengal, Narayan Debnath – the cartoonist attributed for the creation of characters like Bantul the great, Handa-Bhonda & Nonte Fonte, Nalban boating complex famously referred to as lovers paradise with some great options in food in their food park as well and Nandan, Rabindra Sadan – the film and cultural hub of Kolkata. However my pick up for the day is the largest amusement park in Eastern India also known as the Disneyland of Bengal – Nicco Park.
Nicco Park –
Nicco Park is an amusement park located in Salt Lake City, Kolkata. Presently, the 40 acre park is home to over 35 different attractions. Sheroo – the tiger is the mascot of the park.
Nicco Park has approximately thirty-fiverides that include the Toy Train, Tilt-a-Whirl, Magic Carpet, Paddle Boat, Water Chute, Water Coaster, Carousal, Lazy river ride, Crazy Tea Party ride, Pirate Ship, River Caves, Merry go round, Sky Diver, Caterpillar, Flying Saucer, Cyclone and Moon Raker. The Giant Cyclone, added in 2003, is among Asia’s largest ride with 750 meters in length, has seven drops and goes as high as 55 feet.
K is definitely for the city of joy – Kolkata. It also stands for Kalighat in South Kolkata famous for its Kali temple, the hill station Kalimpong in North Bengal and the area famous for sculpting of clay idols in Kolkata – Kumortuli. Since I have almost reached the end of Murshidabad diaries, the two places of interest that define K for me are Katra Masjid and Kathgola Bagan.
Katra Masjid –
Katra means market and since there was a local market near this mosque, this justifies the name Katra Masjid. It is a mosque and tomb of Nawab Murshid Quli Khan. Its importance lies not only as a great centre of Islamic learning but also for the tomb of Murshid Quli Khan, who is buried under the entrance staircase. The most striking feature is the two large corner towers having loopholes for musketry.
The mosque stands on a square plinth. It is built with bricks and surrounded by double storied domed cells. The rooms can accommodate seven hundred Quran readers in total. Four big minars (pillar) stand at the four corners. The two towers or the minarets in front of the mosque are 70 feet high and 25 feet in diameter. The whole mosque is quadrangular in shape, has no pillar support but is supported by a raised platform instead below the mosque. After the earthquake in 1897, the mosque, its dome and two minars have been destroyed.
The entrance to the mosque is by fourteen flight of stairs under which the Nawab has been buried. It is believed that he wanted his burial in such a place where the dust of the visitors would fall on his tomb as a way of seeking repentance for his sins. Born a Hindu Brahmin, Quli Khan was bought by Mughal noble Haji Shafi. Folk lore has it that once the Nawab had known about his Hindu lineage, he had approached the Hindu society seeking acceptance but had been marked as an outcast. Out of vengeance, he had rampaged a lot of Hindu temples. However the present Shiva temple in the premises stand as a testimony to his changed mindset of embracing both the religions in due course.
From the iconic Jadubabur Bazar in Bhowanipore, Kolkata to one of the most important Bengali poets of this generation – Joy Goswami , the all-rounder National level cricketer Jhulan Goswami, the paradise of bird lovers situated in Alipurduar ditrict – Jaldapara National Park and the neighbourhood in North Kolkata fanous for being the home of the country’s pride Gurudev Rabindranath Tgore – Jorasanko, J had a magnitude of options. I decided to pick up two categories, one that is at the core of rural Bengal – Jatra and the other as continuation of Murshidabad series – Jagat Seth’s House.
Jatra or jatra pala is a folk theatre form still popular in rural Bengal. The word jatra means journey or going. The origin of jatra – intrinsically a musical theatre form is influenced from the ritual of songs and dance which formed part of the religious festivals in villages. It is traditionally credited to the rise of Sri Chaitanya’s Bhakti movement, wherein Chaitanya himself played Rukmini in the performance of Rukmini Haran. Dramatic elements in the compositions of these songs and dances like conversations among the various characters of the mythological stories on which they were based were given histrionic interpretations by the performers. Jatras were performed in a square or round area of flat ground with the audience sitting all rounds. There were reserved entry or exit points and the actors moved into the square from the midst of the audience. In the first half of the twentieth century, Swadeshi Jatra became very much important. Jatras were performed to make the people conscious of the British dominance over Indians. Quite a few times the role of a female character gets essayed by a male actor.
The season of Jatra starts from September with Durga Puja being the starting point and ends when the monsoons are just about to come. The whole troupe travel to rural places to perform their play. These troupes are booked in advance by the organising committee and then announcements are done on a cycle rickshaw through microphone in different styles. The Jatra Pala in Bengal lasts for four long hours with full action packed dialogues. Six to seven songs are also performed in the play. These kinds of songs are known as Jatra Gaan. Jatra has also given birth to a popular actors who have gained fame in the medium of theatre and cinema eventually.
There were so few words with the letter I that it was getting difficult to pick up a relevant word for the day. The heritage Indian museum in Kolkata, the iconic educator and reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who worked towards upliftment of women’s status in the society and ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in Mayapur – the Kirtan capital of the world with devotees of Lord Krishna gathering from various continents. However, in my quest to bring out some more interesting facets of the state, I have decided to continue with Murshidabad diaries with the featured subject for today being Imambara.
Imambara (Nizamat Imambara) –
Imambara in Murshidabad is names as Nizamat Imambara. It is located in the same campus of Nizamat Kila right opposite to Hazarduari Palace. It is a Shia muslim congregation hall. This was built by Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah in the Nizamat Fort Area. It was built with wood and had soil brought from Mecca. It caught fire and nothing was left of the place except the old Madina Mosque. The new Imambara was built in 1847 during the era of Nawab Nazim Feradun Jahunder the supervision and direction of Sayed Ali Khan just opposite to the Hazarduari Palace and very near to the banks of Bhagirathi river. This is 680 feet long and is the largest Imambara in Bengal. A new Madina Mosque was constructed within the Imambara.