We arrived in Kolkata on the 10th of April, and were both pleasantly surprised. I had expected a depressing city full of slums, but the portion of the city that we saw was very nice. The air was cleaner than in Varanasi and there were trees lining the streets. We met another American on the train ride from Varanasi to Kolkata and he gave us some tips on taking the ferry across the river once we arrived. We stayed in the touristy Sudder Street area of Kolkata.
On the 11th we visited the Victoria Memorial. Rather than paying to go inside, we enjoyed the view of the outside. We walked around the grounds for a while and rested under the shade trees.
Later in the day we walked to Mother Teresa’s memorial, which includes a small museum and the room Mother Teresa used to live in at the Sister’s of Charity. Reading about her life was very moving. She unselfishly went out into the slums of Calcutta to help the sick and dying at a time when people were literally dying on the streets. At one point she and the other sisters survived off of food donated by neighbors, after giving the best part to the poor. It is truly amazing what she endured, in order to share her love with people who were otherwise ignored. If you visit India, we highly recommend paying your respects at Mother Teresa’s memorial in Calcutta.
After visiting her memorial we headed back to our room, and took a ride part way in a man-powered rickshaw. Calcutta may be the last place in the world where this form of rickshaw still exists. It is powered only by a person walking, no bicycle or engine!
We had only planned to spend one day in Kolkata, using it as a launching point to the Andaman Islands, but we ended up spending two days, since we had to purchase our Air India tickets at least three days in advance. We enjoyed Kolkata, and were glad we had an extra day.
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