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Visit to India's oldest living city - Benares

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Born in Benares ---- revisited 2014 Proud and privileged I feel to be born in the holy city of Benares. I have stayed there but it is as good as not staying because I had not come to terms with my senses during that period. So when my wife proposed that we pay a short visit to Benares during the summer of 2014 I was excited. Excited to visit a city which carries a highly inspiringly vivacious introduction in Lonely Planet – “Brace yourself. You are about to enter one of the most blindingly colourful, unrelentingly chaotic and unapologetically indiscreet places on earth. Varanasi takes no prisoners. But if you are ready for it, this may just turn out to be your favourite stops at all" . Benaras is also known as Kashi, ‘the abode of Lord Shiva, the Hindu God’, or Varanasi nowadays. It is about 600 km from Calcutta and involves a comfortable overnight train journey. We stayed in Hotel Surya in the Cantonment area, which is a relatively peaceful retreat and located behind Benares s

An Evening with India's Most Daring Mountaineer

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Basanta Singha Roy On the evening of 10 th August 2014, Basanta Singha Roy invited us to his Bijoygarh residence in South Calcutta. He is my wife’s colleague in Punjab National Bank and also a good friend of hers. He has the wiry and sturdy physique of a seasoned mountaineer, but despite his extraordinary achievements in scaling the mighty and formidable Himalayan peaks, he is as friendly and easy-going as your next-door neighbor. He had his formal training on mountaineering at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, where my wife also had a stint in basic training when she was a teenager. Basanta’s fearless passion for embracing nature’s fury at heights where not even the eagles dare has always been his defining feature. With Debasish Biswas, his climbing partner, he reached the top of Mt.Everest, the world’s highest peak, in May 2010. They were the first civilians from Bengal to do so. After Everest, the duo went on to successfully summit two mor

And Quiet Flows the Bhagirathi

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And Quiet Flows the Bhagirathi ----- Murshidabad in the 21st century (A reminiscence from the lost capital of Bengal-on the banks of Bhagirathi)   Bhagirathi River is a distributary of the Ganges (Ganga). It leaves Ganga just northeast of Jangipur, flows south, and joins Jalangi at Nabadwip. The banks of Bhagirathi earned a very special place in history for sheltering towns like Murshidabad and Palashi. During the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the capital of undivided Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were shifted from Dhaka to Murshidabad. The name was coined by the first Nawab of Bengal Murshid Quli Khan. Being a capital of the entire eastern segment of today’s India plus Bangladesh, this little-known town spurted into the limelight in the early eighteenth century. People from all over the subcontinent such as the Jains from Rajasthan, Debi Singh and likes from Punjab, the Britons, the Dutch, the Portuguese and the French poured into Murshidabad and started settling there.