Home' Get Up and Go : Winter 2015 Contents GetUp&Go 63
Jangipur, Khushbagh and Clive’s
Murshidabad, alighting when the moment
takes us to wander among the locals and
visit the splendid temples and remnants
of the vast British colonial institution he
established and that would hold sway
over these parts for a further 200 years.
In between stops, we retire to the full-
length, shaded sun deck for tea. Served
to us quite properly in steaming pots and
ornate crockery, the deck stewards seem
to take unusual pleasure in delivering our
afternoon refreshments, no matter how
convoluted our prescriptions. Twists of
lemon or lime, honey or raw sugar and
even a sprinkle of cinnamon or grated
nutmeg are cheerfully administered.
Nemo, our encyclopaedic guide,
often stops by to enquire on our well-
being and we seldom let him go without
some inquisition about our most recent
excursion. Try as we do, we cannot
exhaust his encyclopaedic knowledge of
Hindu beliefs, colonial history or Bengali
culture and it is this cultural enrichment
accompanying our voyage that allows us
to be fully immersed in every experience.
Observation without interpretation is just
With so much intellectual fodder to
consume, it would be wise for intending
visitors to swot up on at least some
history of the region beforehand.
Our locally-built 50m riverboat is
designed expressly for conditions on
these rivers and has just 22 cabins,
each with private facilities and outside-
opening French windows. The twin and
double cabins offer 19m2, while the
four dedicated single cabins are still a
respectable 16m2. The ample lounge at the
rear on the upper (mid) deck is fitted out
in locally built furniture with appropriate
Dining is on the bottom (main) deck
in an air-conditioned space with tables
that can be rearranged easily to suit
the travelling parties. Along the centre
is a bench with hot trays of expertly
prepared Bengali, Assamese, Indian and
western dishes. Salads and greens feature
prominently and traditional sweets like
gulab jamun and fresh fruits are a given.
Chef often conducts cooking classes
during a quiet afternoon and on this
occasion we learned the art of the humble
After miles of rural landscapes dotted
with rudimentary villages, interspersed
with occasional temples and ancient forts,
the 114-room Hazarduari Palace is like
stumbling across Westminster Abbey.
Completed in 1837, the name means ‘place
of one thousand doors’, and it was here
that many high-ranking British officials
lived and where lavish functions were
held. It is a bit painful to see century-old
paintings and artwork open to the air and
humidity even though, since 1985, the
site has been under the protection of the
Archaeological Survey of India.
But even the Victorian grandeur of
Hazarduari is overshadowed by the
immensity of the modern Mayapur
Chandrodaya Mandir, Temple of the
Vedic Planetarium – or more simply, the
ToVP. This shrine is the vision of Hare
Krishna founder Srila Prabhupada to
‘attract people from all over the world to
the holy dhama and ultimately to the lotus
feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’. The
faithful are encouraged to donate to its
building by purchasing golden bricks (for
$1600) or golden tiles (for $1000). How
big? St Peter’s Basilica big!
Clive, however, left India in 1767, lived
his final years in London shrouded in
controversy and died in 1774 a broken
man addicted to opium. The overgrown
and obsolete colonial architecture that
was his legacy is either preserved as
museums or crumbling in neglect.
Grandeur, piety and the raw beauty of
India continue to reign over the lands he
left behind. •
The writer was a guest of Active Travel,
Assam Bengal Navigation, Taj Hotels and
r Getting there
Air India flies daily direct
to Delhi from Sydney and
Melbourne. See [@] www.
airindia.in. Connecting flights
daily to Kolkata.
e Stay at
The Taj Bengal offers 229
rooms and suites in the affluent
Kolkata district of Alipore.
- Being there
Active Travel has a wide range
of Indian river cruises including
the RV Rajmahal on the
Hooghly and Ganges Rivers.
The 8-day Historic Hooghly
travels between Kolkata and
Farakka with fares from $939pp
sharing. Tel: 1300 783 188
Detail from Hindu
temple shows fine
Itinerant sadhu, holy man, one of
the iconic personalities of India.
Riverside streets, like this
one in Murshidabad, are a
feature of the Hooghly.
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