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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 station…

An Evening with India's Most Daring Mountaineer

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Basanta Singha Roy



On the evening of 10th August 2014, Basanta Singha Roy invited us at 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 neighbour. 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 more of the 14 highest peaks of…

And Quiet Flows the Bhagirathi

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And Quiet Flows the Bhagirathi ----- Murshidabad in 21st century
Quiet and placid. Even the view of the river Bhagirathi from the Hazaar Duari Palace located on its bank in Murshidabad town is obliterated by shacks selling mementos to tourists. Further up where one could catch a glimpse of the river is inaccessible as the entire stretch has turned into a garbage dump. Sort of a tribute paid to a river which witnessed some great events in history. From shifting of capital of undivided Bengal,Bihar and Orissa from Dacca to Murshidabad under the regime of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb till the time when the British took over the power and shifted the capital to Calcutta.The Nawabs at Murshidabad held many festive events on Bhagirathi, as suggested by paintings displayed at Hazaar Duari Museum. Murshidabad ,being capital, grew up to a bustling cosmopolitan city in the eighteenth century. There were settlers from all over India like Jains from Rajasthan, Debi Singh and likes from Punjab etc, the…