The Black Hole
Kolkata Travel Blog› entry 30 of 36 › view all entries
My brief stay in Kolkata did not leave me hankering to return. "The Black Hole" stems from the time when the Indians briefly regained control of the city in the mid-18th Century & 40 or so colonial aristocracy were suffocated in a prison cell (Clive of India stepped in the following year to restore order - if that's the right term). Anyway, long explanation, short story is the city still ain't that great!
I arrived on the Friday evening, just in time for the Germany semi-final, headed down Sudder St, the backpackers' area, and here encountered some of the more forceful hawkers and beggars I had yet come across. On Saturday I looked around the town and my impressions were not improved, and these were further embellished by England's dismal showing against Portugal, a sour taste was in the mouth.
But Sunday was all good again, as I headed out to the airport to meet Dad and Rose before heading to a much smarter hotel for my first night with them. We booked in and headed into town to look at the Victoria Memorial, a pretty impressive building, a bit like a mini-St Paul's - very colonial. Dinner followed at supoposedly one of the city's smarter eateries, but to watch the waiter struggle with opening the bottle of wine you would never know it!
The Monday and early to the airport for a flight to Bagdogra and then the 4hr drive up to Darjeeling, where we would spend the next few days. This drive was pretty stunning, through forests of Teak and Japanese pine trees, and the vast tea plantations. The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (known as the Toy Train), a narrow 2ft gauge railroad follows the road all the way up, criss-crossing variously, the train in use still run under steam. The views from the twisting mountain road down over the plains of West Bengal and the Teesta River were glorious.