INCESSANT rains over the past two weeks and the resulting waterlogging compelled most of Kolkatans to either lock up ourselves in homes or strictly adhere to the home to office / business routine, with barely any weekend outings.
With the rains now gradually yielding to a smiling sun, we decided to end the seclusion, even if for a couple of hours. We decided to take a tour of Kolkata’s very own wax museum and the adjoining Eco Tourism Park at Rajarhat New Town.
After a quick lunch, we hit the roads along with a few family friends, obviously bundling our kids along.
Driving along the road in New Town is absolute fun where at times you can speed up to 100 kmph. But with the rains damaging the roads substantially, we struggled to maintain even 50 kmph. Usually it takes about 40 minutes from Central Kolkata to drive to the Finance Centre at New Town where located is the wax museum.
The wax museum, named the Mother’s Wax Museum after Mother Teresa, was our first stop.
We bought entry tickets at Rs 150 / person from the ground floor counter of the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation building and then took the elevator to reach the 6th floor where lay spread the 6,000 square feet wax museum.
The moment you step out of the elevator: life-size and live-looking wax statues of eminent personalities and celebrities take you by surprise. It takes you sometime to realise that they are not real life persons but are wax figurines.
All these years, when we heard or read about world famous Madame Tussauds wax museum of London, having something similar near home makes you feel proud. Crafted by veteran wax sculptor Susanta Ray, the museum opened its door to the public on 10 November 2014.
The wax statues of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose, Amitabh Bachchan, Kapil Dev, Diego Maradona, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeskar and others are a marvel to see.
Besides, for the kids, there are wax statues of their favourite cartoon characters such as Choota Bheem and Chutki as well as the Spiderman.
Done with posing and clicking with the legends cast in wax for nearly an hour, we moved to our second and final destination of the day. Located bang opposite, on the other side of the road, is the Eco Tourism Park.
Taking a U-turn at the nearest road intersection, we drove to reach gate number 3, allocated for parking vehicles. There are three more gates to enter the Eco Park.
Adjoining the car park is a children’s park with plenty of rides and activities to keep the kids engrossed. The park has tree houses that elders too can climb up for an aerial view of the sprawling facility.
Spread over 480 acres, Eco Tourism Park is surrounded by a water body of 104 acres with an island at its centre. The island can be accessed by boats but there’s often a long queue at the ticket counter.
Deciding to give it a miss this time, we instead opted for the semi-circular Butterfly Garden. Though it’s not fully operational, we managed to spot some colourful butterflies. Taking a stroll in the park itself is a pleasant experience, the breeze is very refreshing.
A few minutes along the walkway takes one to the Mask Garden. This open-air zone exhibits masks from the districts of West Bengal, different states as well as a few foreign countries such as China and Iran.
Our next stop is Shikara Ride. Country boats modelled on the famous Shikara of Kashmir are available in plenty for hire to take a sail on the vast water body. Remember to put on life jackets: it’s especially advisable as the water body is now filled to the brink due to an outpouring monsoon.
The sail gives you an idea as to the vastness of the park; it also allows a glimpse of the forthcoming infrastructure development on the other side of the road.
As the sun went into oblivion for the day, replenished by the sail, we made ourselves comfortable on the benches placed besides the water body to watch the much-sought-after music and laser show. This is a real charm with melodious tunes and dancing fountains.
After some light snacks and hot coffee at the refreshment counter, we bid adieu to a lovely evening well spent in the company of friends and not too far away from the comfort of our homes.
(Debapriya Bhattacharjee is an assistant editor at Newsmen)