As this is going to be my last year in India - yes Mumbai Moments is going to come to an end soon - I decided to take the Thanksgiving weekend to see Calcutta and the Sundarbans. Because it was just a long weekend, I wanted to spend one day walking around Calcutta and one day floating around the tiger reserve. I was hoping to see a tiger, but I wasn't that lucky!
I went with Bec, a PE teacher from school. When we arrived at the hotel we had booked there wasn't a room for us (a group had gone down with an illness - likely Delhi Belly I think and had not been able to checkout of their rooms) so we got upgraded to the Oberoi. That was really lucky! We had a nice room, a great breakfast and even returned for a wonderful Bengali lunch.
I'd already looked up a list of places to go to and we decided we'd walk between then. First on the list was the Victoria Memorial which was stunning. It's a beautiful marble building, built between 1906 and 1921, and it's now a museum. It was suggested by George Curzon, the Viceroy of India, as Calcutta was at that time the capital, however even before it was finished the capital was moved to New Delhi. Apparently the entire cost of the building was funded by voluntary donations.
Our walk continued north, up to the Hooghly River and through the flower market. Calcutta is a much poorer city than Mumbai and we notice a huge amount of poverty.
Kolkata was not my favourite city in India, but it was very colourful and I'm certainly glad we went.
The following day it was a very early start - 5.30 am - to set off in a minibus to the Sundarbans on the Ganges delta. It's a national park and tiger reserve - with over 400 tigers it's home to one of the largest tiger populations in India. It's an area of mangrove forest so we had to get around by boat through the innumerable waterways.
The boat ride was extremely relaxing, however we didn't get to see much wildlife, not even very many birds. However we did get to see the red tailed green tree viper which is very venomous (death in 20 minutes we were told) - I quickly handed my camera to one of the guides to get in close for this photo!
The cruise back to the jetty and our minibus was very slow and relaxing as the sun was going down.