Photographing the New City of Joy Kolkata in Alto 800
There are certain bonds that one holds not for the financial interest but for the emotional dividend one cherishes over years. One such deep bond I have is with Kolkata that developed over the years when I first moved there many years ago to set up our company’s office.
I hardly knew anybody in Kolkata and was wondering if I would ever be able to make any friends in Kolkata. But Kolkata embraced me like a long-lost son and whispered in my eager ears “Welcome home”
Soon Kolkata became our home and we enjoyed discovering the city one weekend at a time. Alas, our stay in Kolkata ended sooner than we expected but my emotional attachment to the city continued and I continue to visit Kolkata on the very first opportunity. An executive course with IIM C, a friend’s marriage was just some of the excuses to visit Kolkata again. So recently when recently launched Maruti Alto 800 invited me to visit Kolkata and shoot the city while driving around I immediately grabbed the opportunity and landed in the city of Joy with my cup of joy overflowing to once again click my beloved city.
Many things have changed in the meantime from the crumbling last Red Citadel that Kolkata once was, the city has embraced other colors from rainbow also and was not only blooming but also booming with development.
My first visit was to an Alto 800 Showroom where a brand new shiny red Maruti Alto 800 was waiting for me with open doors to take me around the city. The shiny car was all mine for the day to roam around the city and click images of the changing face of the Kolkata. There were a few things that were very clear in my mind, like no Black and White depressing Kolkata images for me that have been done 1000 times. For me, Kolkata is always a smiling full of joy city that is now reinventing itself and is now home to some of the best development in the Rajarhat New Town and Salt Lake areas.
Driving around Kolkata in Alto 800
Soon I was on the roads of Kolkata enjoying the familiar but changed city, and what a change it has been. Contrary to the Black and white images one is so used to Kolkata, not only the city was smiling in all colors but thanks to the new flyovers the traffic situation was better than it was 5 years ago. A canopy of trees sheltered me from the blazing sun when I got out of the Alto 800 to click pictures.
But one of the most pleasant aspects of Kolkata is that in spite of being one of the biggest cities in the world it still maintains its earthiness. Almost every locality of Kolkata has these quaint waterbodies locally called Pukurs, and in earlier days they were the village hub of activities. Today most of them have lost their utilitarian role of providing water to the area but replenish the water table, are used for fish cultivation. Kolkata must be the only big city in India that takes pride in its Pukurs and the Pukurs, in turn, reflect the vibrant colors of Kolkata. Where else in a metropolitan city can you find Palms swaying to a gentle breeze and placid lakes acting as a mirror that shows not just the changing times but also the earthiness of the days gone by?
But the Pukurs of Kolkata not only showcase the earthiness and colors of Kolkata they also embrace the vertically growing city. Indeed it was heartening to see new development coming near the science city that is growing vertically while a fisherman’s net is spread out in the lake below. The Past, Present, and Future all three together on the banks of one lake in Kolkata.
As the day progressed I decided to go towards the New Town in Rajarhat that is the face of emerging and resurging Kolkata. Big glass towers with names of global companies greeted me. But here also the grounded roots of Kolkata were visible. Most of the IT companies that dot the skyline of New Town in Rajarhat have cafeterias for employees. But come break time and you could see lines of young folks around the little Chai Shops sipping their favorite cuppa made to perfection, while the Kashphool flowers gently sway in the wind. The IT Park and the little patch of green in perfect harmony with each other that is my Kolkata for you.
The New Face of Kolkata
As the day progressed I was looking at the changing face of Kolkata roads, with new flyovers, and metro links coming to take the transport infrastructure to the next level. As the day came to an end and the sun spread its golden rays on the upcoming development of Kolkata I clicked my favorite picture of the New Kolkata.
In a few months, this hollow skeleton of the building will be buzzing with activity of employees. A tea stall owner will set up a shop. A bride will wait for her hubby to pick her up after office hours, a dad will look at his watch every few minutes for he wants to go back to see his newborn daughter. And a shiny new Metro will halt momentarily to take people home in the evening.
Soon the sunset was gone forever and the city lights took over the mandate to fight the darkness. Yes, this sunset will never come again but what will come is a bright new Sunset on a resurgent Kolkata, I city I lost my heart many years ago and don’t want it back for where can a heart be happier than in the New City of Joy?
Note: I was in Kolkata on an invitation of Maruti Alto 800. Visit the website of Maruti Alto 800, to know more about it and follow this tag on Instagram and Twitter:
To #TohChaleinKyaKolkata with @Alto_800 🙂
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I’m not going to lie, I had never even heard of Kolkata before I read this! But now I really want to go! Looks amazing
Hi Claire: Welcome to desi Traveler… Kolkata is actually one of the biggest cities in world earlier it was called Calcutta I am sure that name will ring a bell :0
I love these photos – especially the one of the houses on the water’s edge. Such pretty colours! I missed Kolkata while I was in India – definitely hope to make it there someday 🙂
Hi Emily: Welcome to desi Traveler.. I am sure you will visit India again as one visit is just not enough .. .safe travels 🙂
sunset pic is mind blowing
Thanks Mahesh jee
Wow, to be honest I would never have expected Kolkata to be described the way you did! That there is an earthiness to the city despite the crowds. You’re pictures as well make me want to visit!
Hi Katie.. Yes, Kolkata remains most grounded city with wonderful people even with all the development around
Enjoyed this Kolkata tour through your writing and photos. Quite interesting, Prasad. 🙂
Thanks Meera.. Kolkata is a photographers delight .. 🙂
Thanks for bringing the beautiful Kolkata.
Sriram & Krithiga
You are welcome…
Fabulous photos Prasad! You make the city look even better!
Thanks Chaitali… Kolkata is a beautiful city 🙂
That park looks just lovely and the sunset – wow! Driving is such a good way to get out and explore isn’t it?
Thanks Chloe.. I just love driving and exploring…
We used to go Kolkata every year 🙂 from 1995-2003 🙂
I like the madness, sweetness and the beauty of the old buildings. Such a lively and colorful place
The City of Joy is full of life.. The Kolkata of 2016 may be different from the Kolkata of 2003 but the spirit is the same 🙂
That car looks absolutely snazzy. I think l would enjoy zipping down the streets in that 🙂
yes, the Alto 800 is designed to zip around… 🙂
I loved the picture of the water-body with the reflection of the colorful houses. I din’t know its called a Pukur. For all these years, I have booked my tickets twice for Kolkata but had to cancel it. I am yet to experience one of the most vibrant and historic city of India.
Well I guess then a visit should be on cards 🙂
Awesome pics 🙂
thanks Rupam da
Amazing post! I was in Kolkata 3 yrs back and this post reminded me of those days. Wonderful city with rich culture. Thanks for sharing this 🙂
BTW excellent shots 🙂 I’m a keen follower of your photo blog posts.
Hi Saumy.. you are so right, Kolkata is so rich in culture. Thanks for following desi traveler 🙂
A very delightful post, Kolkata, my home town seen so differently, which is not the monotonous black and white only. Thanks for such a wonderful post. You made me relive the moments of my past office life in Rajarhat… Loved the soulful description of the transforming ‘hollow skeleton’. Beautiful. I miss my city 🙂
Thanks, Sarmistha.. so glad that you liked the post on Kolkata
I’ve never been to Kolkata till now. Can you believe it? And l recently bought myself this very same car in the bright red color. It is spirited and l love it. Loved your pics of the city.
Congrats on your new Alto 🙂