A Day in The Veil of Flowers “Khirai”

A short excursion is barely to dodge the stressful ordinary life. Undoubtedly, A Day in The Veil of Flowers “Khirai” will leave you lofty in the fields of the countryside. This popular destination is famous amongst the few where you may find the majority of the people from the nearest districts of Bengal. The main attraction is the vast acres of farmland cultivated with varieties of flowers.

Farmland of Chrysanthemum in Khirai West Bengal

The fragrance of the untouched countryside with warm-hearted people greets you with absolute adoration. Though the place doesn’t have any hill or valley yet it is known as Bengal’s Valley of Flowers. It is situated on the bank of Cossai (Kangshabati) river which later merges in the Bay of Bengal. Let’s spend a day in the field with outburst colours of flowers.

Marigold flowers field in west Bengal

Bengal’s countryside is well portrayed by the poets as a shy bride with a veil covering her beautiful teenage face. The farms of Panskura and Khirai are the best illustration of poets mood. The farm produces some of the best ornamental flowers like Chrysanthemum, Karen and Marigold for the rest of India.

Karen Flowers in Khirai West Bengal

During the winter season, the production of flowers increase and this is the best time to witness blooming flowers. The increase in the level of pollution has affected the countryside which is a desperate time for the farmer. It is our respect to give tribute to our farmers for producing some of the best flowers in our country.

How to Reach?

The Valley of Flower is well connected by roads and railways. The farmland is located in East Midnapore district between Khirai station and Panskura station. It is easily accessible by local trains from Kolkata at regular interval. It takes around two hours from Howrah to reach the destination. From Khirai station it takes 30-40min of a walk along the narrow lane beside the railway track.

On a Lazy Sunday Morning!

The dusty road of village West Bengal

Sudden plans always come up with more energy and excitement. Taking a short break from the city on a lazy Sunday wasn’t a bad idea. I have always been fond of vibrant colours and the place that I was about to go was A Day in The Veil of Flowers “Khirai”, attracted me while travelling by train long time ago. A vast field covered by Marigold flowers has always appeared to me like a trailer each time while crossing the field. So finally I made up my mood to explore the cinematic field of flowers.

The Veil of Flowers Khirai

The sun was up when I started my journey from home. I made sure to pack baked food and sufficient water and left from my place. I reached Santragachi railway station for a local train to Khirai. The total cost to Khirai and down to Santragachi on a train is Rs.30. The weather was surprisingly amazing and the train was not crowded so grabbing a seat near the window wasn’t a problem.

Indian train from Howrah to Khirai

Although I was carrying my food I couldn’t stop trying local snacks from every vendor from different halts simultaneously enjoying the countryside view. The two hours of the local train journey was quite pleasant. While I got down, I wasn’t expecting an isolated station with scarcely visible life around the busiest network of India that clearly gives the glimpse of the untouched beauty ‘Khirai’.

The Veil of Flowers Khirai

The main occupation of the people is farming and very few are interested in city life. After two mins of walk from the station, I met a humble lady who guided me through narrow lanes beside the railway track and also told me the best route to reach the Veil of Flowers “Khirai”. Such generous behaviour is uncommon to see in the urbanites.

Farmland of Chrysanthemum in Khirai West Bengal

Thirty minutes of walk along the trail I felt like Cossai River was treating me an anonymous petal being pulled towards the land of flowers. After exploring for a few hours from one field to other, leisurely the sun was at the horizon. I bought a few saplings of marigold from the field and then went to the local market.

small tea shop in West Bengal

I happened to witness local people selling varieties of marigold flowers and especially the ladies making garlands of it. I became familiar with the story of the famous temple in the village during gossips with the locals at tea- stall. It was getting dark and no vehicles were available, sharing the unconditional gratitude toward locals I happen to take a walk back to the station.

The Charity of Care Helping Unprivileged Mankind:

Around the world, several NGOs, Missionaries for charity are carrying out extensive social work across different domains. Kolkata too has a large number of active NGOs with dedicated volunteers, that are committed to bringing about positive changes in the society in general, and for the weak and underprivileged in particular. It is a blessing to be born in a good family with all the basic needs,

so it equally becomes the responsibility of people to help the underprivileged sector of society. These NGOs are working in the field of human rights, gender equality, poverty, unemployment, and so on. The service of charity resonates heavily with Ramkriskhna’s “Serving the mankind is serving the God” and Mother Teresa’s works for which she has been canonized as St. Teresa of Kolkata.

The Missionary of Charity (Mother Teresa Memorial House):

The historic residence of Mother Teresa is in east Kolkata on AJC Bose road near Moulali. It is a holy place of pilgrimage and reverence to the selfless Mother. It was established in 1950 with some sisters and gradually many sisters joined the missionary. Now, this is the Headquarters for all the charitable activities initiated by the Sisters of Missionaries of Charity around the world. The members of the Mother House provide free services to the people in need regardless of their religion. A certain area of the house is for followers to pay their respect to Mother Teresa.

the missionaries for charity

Here, one can find Mother Teresa’s Tomb in a grand marble structure. An exhibition room that displays her work through photographs, awards, and articles in chronological order. Some of her belongings like sarees, sandals, and bags are also displayed. You can walk upstairs to see a small room preserved in all its simplicity where she lived. This is where Mother Teresa began her service to mankind, and this is where she ended her service to move to heaven.

the missionaries for charity
Ramkrishna Math, Barisha:

The math is another branch of Belur Math, which is the home for the elderly who has no one to take care of, or a proper place to stay. The place is spiritually inclined with devotees. The serene ambience of the Math at dawn and dusk with the vast expanse of green covering, the age-old trees, the lily pool, the chirping of the birds separates the environment of the ashram from the hustles and bustles of Kolkata. Spend a few moments with the monks and the elderly residents of the place. It will let you full of positive vibrations.

The place leaves with the credibility about the Indian tradition of Joint Family where our elderly people now live a pathetic life of loneliness. It does not receive any special benefits from the Government. Like all other Ramakrishna Centres, this Math also has no source of regular income of its own. It solely depends on the donations of the devotees. The Math is located at Barisha near Shaker Bazaar on Motilal Gupta Road. The nearest metro is Mahanayak Uttam Kumar (Tollygunge) from where take auto for Shaker Bazaar from the stand. It will let lay you down at the gates of the mission.

the missionaries for charity

The Crumbling of the glorious days of Rajbari:

Most of the great Mansions or crumbling Rajbari around Kolkata of which very few are still intact and restored. The Zamindars of Bengal had a life of pomp and show, unimaginable today. Magnificient estates and mansions give a grandeur feeling of old Bengal. The feeling of old zamindars which led to a combination of manipulation, battles, love, arts, and business, set bounded by the abundance and the finest luxury India offered at that time.

crumbling Rajbari around Kolkata

The gorgeous Rajbaris’ architectures and designs varied from one another and glorify the indigenous style of Raja and European concepts. The grand mansions are very expensive to maintain and carry on regular repairs by the right artisans. Unfortunately, few of the mansions are so neglected that they are crumbling. And few have been demolished by promoters. The few surviving Rajbaris are converted in museums displaying the lifestyle of the then people, few became the homestays and others are being used as the location for film/tv series.

Jorasanko Thakur Rajbari:

Thakur Bari as it is popularly known is the nerve of Bengal’s cultural life. The nearest metro is Girish Park and it will take 15 minutes to walk from the station to Rabindra Sarani. The entry fee is ₹20 per person and for photography the additional charge is ₹50. The building has been restored keeping the reflection of old Thakur Bari with a nice corridor and a beautiful courtyard. Rabindranath was born, spent most of his life and took the last breath in this house.

The rajbari is converted into a museum displaying around 700 paintings, rare artefacts, scriptures and antique items of various artists in different galleries that can be explored. The rooms of Rabindranath Tagore and the kitchen of his wife Mrinalini Devi display the lifestyle of the Era of Bengal Renaissance. The best time to visit the place is during the great poet Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday (25th Baishakh), the date of his demise (22nd Sravana) and Poila Baishakh when ceremonies and cultural functions are held. During that time, you can participate in those events and celebrations.

crumbling Rajbari around Kolkata
Rani Rashmoni House:
crumbling Rajbari around Kolkata

Pritam Das, Rani Rashmoni’s father-in-law, started constructing this mansion in 1805. It took around 8 years to complete. There is a Natmandir in front of the verandah, where the famous traditional Durga Puja is still held. Rani Rashmoni was a pillar of strength for women in the male-dominated society of that era. She was a well-known philanthropist and was engaged in numerous charitable activities. She constructed the famous Dakshineswar Kali Temple and funded for Babughat along Ganga.

Now the descendants of Rani Rashmoni live in this Rajbari. The family house is divided into three parts to three of her four daughters’ families. The families are finding it hard to maintain the house as few portions are collapsing as crumbling Rajbari around Kolkata. The falling apart aristocracy of Kolkata requires quick restoration for the future. The traffic along the junction of Surendranath Banerjee Road and Rani Rashmoni Road is extremely heavy, it is a scene of chaos. The best way to get around is by nearest metro station Esplanade and then 15 minutes walk to the place.

The Serene Presence of Buddhist Pagodas from Different Community:

Buddhism spread in Bengal during Ashoka. But its effect faded away in the successive period. The presence of Buddhist Pagodas in Kolkata slowly mingled to other cultures of the locals. Still, there are some monasteries in Kolkata and North Bengal. They reveal different stories of their presence with the calmness at their sites with prayer. The Buddhist monks from different parts of Asia as Myanmar, China and Japan came much later in the city and established the temples and prayer halls. But very few people know about these beautiful temples in Kolkata and the amazing stories behind it.

The melodic chants of Mantra make one forget all worries, anxieties, stress and all tribulations. You will find yourself in the divine world of spirituality. The spiritual aura of prayers amidst the calmness and peaceful environment of the Buddhist Pagodas are the best places that one can visit. The best peaceful gesture is when Chinese and Japanese Buddhists jointly built a beautiful temple in Eden Garden leaving the impression of their respective culture.

The different pagodas have their typical architecture which looks out of place in the city of joy. It attracts a few Buddhist locals and some wandering tourists. You will surely experience peaceful and reconciliate yourself at these breathtaking monasteries.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

-Lord Gautam Buddha
Hsuan Tsang Monastery (China Temple):
Buddhist Pagodas in Kolkata

The monastery has been named after the famous monk and scholar Hsuan Tsang who travelled in India in 7th BC. The monastery was constructed by the local Chinese community in 1968. The locals call it China Mandir. The Monastery is two-storied with the monks and nuns residence. The temple is situated on one end of the premises and the main prayer hall is on the ground floor. The huge hall contains four giant Buddha statues, painted with bright golden colour. On both sides of the main statue, smaller statues of Chinese Gods and Goddesses are placed, creating a mesmerizing environment.

Buddhist Pagodas in Kolkata

The glass cover around the alter makes photography extremely difficult. Festivals like Buddha Purnima, Chinese New Year and senior citizen’s day according to the Chinese calendar are celebrated every year. The monastery also hosts special sessions of prayers on every full moon day apart from daily prayers. It is located at the outskirt of Kolkata. the Monastery is best approached from the Ruby Hospital on the EM Bypass from where regular auto services are available which takes 10-15 minutes for Adarsh Nagar, Chowbanga.

Nipponzan Myohoji Temple (Japanese Temple):

Few people living in the region are aware that there is a Japanese Buddhist Pagodas in Kolkata, and even fewer are aware that it is officially called The Nipponzan Myohoji Temple. The Japanese Buddhist Temple is located on the Lake Road at Kabi Bharati Sarani, in Dhakuria. The two-storied milky white building is lined with golden borders and beautiful compound with manicured lawns and landscaped gardens. It has a prayer hall on the ground floor, where a marble idol of seated Buddha and the altar is marvellously decorated with colourful fabrics and brass lamps.

Buddhist Pagodas in Kolkata

There is a meditation room on the second floor, and the Arya Dharma Library besides it. The temple was founded in 1935 by Nichidatsu Fujii (1885 – 1985), who held the opinion of Lotus Sutra. At the entrance of the temple is signage, which reads “Na – Mu – Myo – Ho – Ren – Ge – Kyo.” meaning “I take refuge in the wonderful law of the Lotus Flower Sutra”. See if you can locate the residence of the ex-President of India, Pranab Mukherjee. To reach the site, come in the middle of the Dhakuria Bridge and climb down the stairs, pass below the bridge, walk a couple of yards away, on the left.

Few Jewish community Synagogues are left to tell the story:

Few Jewish Community Synagogues in Kolkata are left to tell the story about the first Jew who came with his family to Kolkata in 1798 from Allepo in Syria was Shalom Aaron Obadia Cohen and established the first community. Many other families followed him from different parts of Europe, Baghdad, Iraq, and other Middle East countries. It is estimated that around 6000 Jews settled in Kolkata. But they started to shift to Israel & other countries leading to a decline in their population. At present only 20 Jewish as a legacy in terms of Kolata’s heritage remains in the city.

Well, it’s never too late to broaden your knowledge and know about Kolkata’s different communities & their culture. The beautiful Synagogues with long towers and beautiful interior, decorated by wooden architectures and chandeliers, are the holy place of worship for Judaism. There were five Synagogues in Kolkata of which only three are intact after restoration. All three synagogues are on the same campus. Each one is beautiful and has own architectural ambience. The synagogues are situated at China Bazaar near the junction of Brabourne Road and Canning Street in the locality of Baghbazaar.

Maghen David Synagogue:

Jewish community Synagogues

Maghen David is one of the biggest Jewish community Synagogues in Asia. It was built in 1884 by Sir Elias David Ezra in memory of his father David Joseph Ezra. The building, 40 meters high, is of renaissance style with a clock tower.

Jewish community Synagogues

Its interior stuns the visitors with its black and white checked tiles and in some places, the mosaic tiles, the large stained Belgian glasses, and three curtained doors at the entrance. In the centre of the hall, there is a wooden pulpit and beautiful chandeliers brightening the whole place. A wooden staircase leads up to the gallery having seating arrangements. The warm hue of synagogue presents the best portrait for photography.

Jewish community Synagogues

The caretaker of the Synagogue is a Muslim, the most heartening gesture in this period when the Jews and Muslims of the Middle East are not in good terms. But here in Kolkata, their relation with other communities is cordial. To visit Synagogue you have to take permission from Hony. Secretary/President David Ashkenazy. They are most helpful and will provide you with all the information. Please follow the instructions and respect the environment of the holiness.

Tourist places in Kolkata “The Heritage”

Travelling gives relief and if you love the offbeat places than the beaten track, tourist places in Kolkata will give you some of the best options with its old heritages. The city is abstracted with charm, culture, and joy. The city’s most of the locations are known because it’s easier to find on Google. Only a traveller understands the worries of other tourists. I decided to list my offbeat places which bring a different level of energy & joy.

tourist places in Kolkata

The city’s original documentation started during the British reign in the 1680s. The city of joy went under rapid industrialization under the British era which led to the British impression on the architectures. The most famous tourist places in Kolkata is Fort William, Victoria Memorial, old Howrah Bridge, Writers Building and trams (yet in service with few modified) dates back to a long-gone era of the city’s colonial past.

tourist places in Kolkata

Kolkata was the major hub for trade which welcomed every citizen of the world to settle here and establish him/herself. The city endures the heritage of Jews, the existing of Buddhist pagodas, the old Rajbaris of iconic celebrities, the Charity and Care for mankind and the festivals of Kolkata. Owing to such expansive heritage and rich tradition, the city has remained the cultural and intellectual capital of India.

The people love and embrace poetry, theatre, film, and art which make Kolkata more colourful and endowment. Undoubtedly, the ideas of Kolkata in the fields of literature, art, cinema, and theatre have given motivation and inspiration to the rest of the country. Kolkata is now a bustling metropolis with an underground metro, tall tower buildings, big malls with multiplexes and covered with flyovers still maintaining its heritage, culture, etc.

The best way to travel in Kolkata is by the iconic yellow ambassador taxi (very few are left and soon it will be gone), metro, bus, and iconic tram. The public and private transport are smoother than one would expect.