Kalighat & Kolkata Dreams

My interest in Kolkata was first sparked by the film Kahani and Sujoy Ghosh’s artistic view of the city. There was something very gritty yet captivating about it. I found myself dreaming of visiting during Durga Puja and being wrapped in a white sari with a red border. Then I returned to the reality of my day to day life and Kolkatta dreams were few and far between….but, by the magic of the internet I was re-introduced to the city by way of Kalighat and Vineeta Nair.

Vineeta is an incredibly talented artist, and creates beautiful accessories for the home (I promise to talk more about those in a future post, in the meantime, you should check out her Facebook page), but she also has a photographer’s eye. Often I’m so captivated by the images on her blog that I scroll a ways down and realize I haven’t read anything yet! That says a lot from someone who is all about the words. 

One evening a few weeks ago I was reading the archives on Vineeta’s Art N Light blog and found my way to Kalighat, one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Kolkata. So old in fact that the world’s oldest continuously worshipped temple is located here. The Kali Mandir here was referenced in the Mahabarat, leading historians to believe that there has been a mandir on this site since the 8th or 9th century BC. So much history! 

I am so thankful to Vineeta for allowing me to share Kalighat through her lens with all of you. I hope one day to sit in a little chai stall and people watch among the idols and deities. 

kalighat kolkata 1Welcome to Kalighat! The last time I visited India I was a child, oblivious to the beauty of these signs and typography. How I long to wander the bazaars and ‘galis’ of Kalighat photographing signage now.kalighat sindoorKalighat is famous for two reds; the red of sindoor, worn in your part to signify your marital status, and offered to the goddess Kali as prasad, and the lal joba flower. The lal joba (red hibiscus) is Kali Mata’s chosen flower and showered upon her in prayer. Both sindoor and lal joba are big business here. kalighat kolkatta 2A suhagan (married woman) in all her glory prays to the goddess amidst shops lined with sindoor for sale. kalighat kolkata the doorsBeautiful weathered doors seduce me with their colours. I want to walk through them and fully expect to find a sort of Narnia on the other side. Maybe I would be transported back in time and share a cup of chai with my favourite Indian writer Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. I have so many questions about Parineeta.

kalighat kolkata chaiSpeaking of chai, a visit to Kalighat would not be complete without a cup of ‘kular vali chai’ served in an earthenware cup. As Vineeta said ‘disposable, eco friendly, and traditional.’

All images in this post belong to Vineeta Nair. You can read her original post and commentary on Kalighat Kolkatta here. Once again a big thanks for allowing us to expand our world view through her lens. 

Are you intrigued by Kalighat? If you could have chai anywhere in the world where would it be? Please share in a comment below, perhaps we’ll take you there one day!

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