February 19, 2015

Kolkata, India | Part Two.

The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own,
and he has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end
(Rabindranath Tagore)
Rabindranath Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.
(grabbed from poemhunter.com)
This is, perhaps, one of my favorite stops in Kolkata. I was impressed at how massive and beautiful this house is. I also found a lot of inspiration here, from Rabindranath's life. I was also amazed by all his travels, the people he met, and the friendships he nurtured along the way. Both his genius and spirituality was impressive and inspiring. And oh, I was quite impressed he met (and had a photograph with) Einstein. :)

Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral home of the Tagores. It was built during the 18th century by Rabindranath Tagore's grandfather. It now houses a museum that features the life and times of the Tagores. Also in this museum is a gallery of Rabindranath's paintings, poems, personal photographs.

Jorasanko Thakur Bari also houses the Rabindra Bharathi University.

If the outer walls are painted in bright orange, the inner walls are white. This is the courtyard. And I love courtyards. They used to have plays and events here which Rabindranath was involved in, either as director or actor.

If you ever find yourself in Kolkata, do not miss the House of Thakurs. And if you've read Rabindranath Tagore's books, you'd definitely appreciate this place. Give about 2-3 hours to tour around the premises. Shoes are not allowed inside the museum, bring socks of you don't want to walk around barefoot.
Opening Hours: 10:30am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday
Fee: INR 10 (locals) | INR 50 (foreigners)

Jorasanko Thakur Bari | House of the Thakurs | The Tagore House
6/4 Dwarakanath Tagore Lane
Rabindra Bharati University Campus
Jorasanko, Kolkata, India

This neoclassical structure was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835. It is incredibly beautiful and stands out in the midst of the chaos and poverty outside its gates. It is made with different types of marble, giving this palace its name. The lawns are well-tended and are decorated with sculptures and fountains. The property also has a small zoo.

Inside, the palace contains collections of priceless paintings, sculptures, urns, furnitures, and other treasures accumulated over the years. It's ballroom is decorated with magnificent chandeliers. I was incredibly impressed and awestruck by the opulence.

Admission is free but you need to get permission from the West Bengal Tourist Department. There are guides inside the premises and they are not shy about telling you how much they charge. If I remember it right, they asked for INR100 from us. The guard at the gate isn't very shy, too. Picture-taking is not allowed, so savor every moment you are there. And like the Tagore House, shoes are not allowed inside. Bring socks if you are squeamish about walking around barefoot.
Opening Hours: 10am - 4pm | Closed on Mondays & Thursdays

The Marble Palace
46 Muktaram Babu St.
Kolkata, India

Our last stop in Kolkata was the mother house of the Sisters of Charity to visit Mother Teresa's tomb. This was one of my favorite stops in India because I've always been inspired by Mother Teresa's life.

It is in this house that Mother Teresa lived, worked, guided her congregation, and laid to rest. Adjacent to the room where her tomb is, is a small museum that houses photographs of Mother Teresa's life, handwritten letters, garments, and sandals.

Her room is also open for viewing but picture-taking is not allowed.

Mother Teresa was buried on the ground floor of the mother house on 13 September 1997. Many Christian pilgrims visit her tomb to pay homage to this person who, when she was still alive, was called a living saint. Many people also come here to leave petitions and attend Mass.

I had goosebumps the moment I entered the mother house. There was a sense of sacredness and peacefulness here that's quite the opposite of the life just outside its walls. We lingered there a bit, checked out the museum, prayed. It was, indeed, the perfect ending to our Kolkata trip.

A few reminders when you visit --
  • Switch your mobile phones to silent mode.
  • Maintain atmosphere of silence and prayer.
  • Mother Teresa's tomb is considered sacred, please wear proper attire.
  • Photographs of the tomb and Mother Teresa's statue is for personal use only. Permission is needed if you use photographs for publication.
  • Do not give money or encourage beggars outside the mother house.
  • Take care of your personal belongings.
  • Do not photograph or take videos of nuns and their activities around the house.
Opening Hours: 8am-12nn | 3pm-6pm Everyday except Thursdays

Missionaries of Charity
Mother House
54A A.J.C. Bose Road
Kolkata, 700016
. . . . .

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How to Apply for TOURIST Visa to India
(from their official website)
  • Online submission of Visa Application Forms is mandatory.
  • The Embassy of India does not normally accept visa applications at its premises except from Diplomatic/Official passport holders. However, in exceptional and urgent cases, applicants may submit hard copies at the Embassy on working days between 0930 hrs and 1130 hrs. Such applicants are required to pay an additional fee.
  • Non-Philippines nationals, who are on a short visit and not resident here should obtain a visa for India from the country of their normal residence or country of origin.
  • The validity of all visas is counted from the date of issue.
  • The staff at the Visa Application Centres are trained to answer your enquiries and provide information on visa related issues. They are not however Embassy personnel. Please feel free to contact the Embassy (contact details given on the front page) for additional information or if you feel that the response provided by the Visa Application Centre is not satisfactory.
  • Your passport must have a minimum validity of six-months at the time of submission of application.
  • Please note that all fees for applications made at the Embassy are payable in cash.
  • The visa fee charged is non-refundable regardless of the outcome of the application or the applicant withdrawing the application after submission or if the visa cannot be processed within the timeframe desired by applicants.
  • Please fill the Visa Application Form with care and take note of requirements of additional documentation for business or employment visas. Applications are to be submitted along with a recent coloured photograph (2x2 inches, white background).
  • Visa applications should be submitted at the designated India Visa Application Centre appointed by the Embassy. The address and contact details of the Indian Visa Application Centre is provided below.
Visa Application Centre

M/s BLS International Services Ltd.
902 A (9th Floor), One Corporate Plaza, Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City.
Tel: 0063-2-4789152, 5555060
Email: info@blsinternational.net
Website: www.blsindiavisa-ph.com
Submission of applications: 0900 to 1200 hrs - Monday to Friday
Delivery of passports: 1630 to 1730 hrs - Monday to Friday

The information displayed on the website is intended as a guide to facilitate visa applicants. Requirements listed here are however liable to change.
  • In case of any difficulty and for clarifications regarding online submission of the visa application, please contact the Indian Visa Application Centre (info@blsinternational.net) or contact Telephone No. 0063-2-5555060, Telefax: 4789152.
Steps for Submitting Visa Application Online
  • Log on to visa and complete the application online after carefully going through the instructions listed on the web page.
  • Submit hard copy of the completed application form, duly signed, at the designated Indian Visa Application Centre appointed by the Embassy along with valid passport, requisite fee and other documents (depending on the type of visa required) with a service fee of Peso 148.
  • The Embassy of India does not normally accept visa applications at its premises except from Diplomatic/Official passport holders. However, in exceptional and urgent cases, applicants may submit hard copies at the Embassy on working days between 0930 hrs and 1130 hrs. Such applicants are required to pay an additional fee.
Tourist Visa Requirements 
  • Two recent colour photographs (size: 2x2 inches) showing full frontal view of face against a white background to be pasted on the application form.
  • Photograph should not be stapled. To know more about photo specifications, click here
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the contemplated stay in India with photocopy;
  • Copy of the reservation itinerary (not confirmed ticket) needs to be attached with the Visa Application at the time of submission of the application.(Note: non-refundable tickets or reservations should not be purchased until your passport with visa is in your possession);
  • Proof of financial standing (recent bank statement, sponsorship letter, etc.);
  • Accommodation arrangements / hotel bookings;
  • In case of non-Filipino applicants who are not resident in Philippines, reasons for applying for visa from Manila.
The provision relating to 2 months gap between two visits of a foreign national to India on a Tourist Visa has been reviewed by the Government. It has been decided to lift the restriction of two-month gap on re-entry of foreign nationals coming to India except in case of nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh, foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh origins and Stateless persons and in such a case, permission should be sought from the Head of Indian Mission in the region and registration would be required within 14 days of arrival in India with the FRRO.

Visa Fees

PHP 2,210.00 : For Filipino Nationals

PHP 4,310.00 : For US Nationals
(Including fax charge and surcharge)

PHP 2,460.00 : For Singapore Nationals
(Including fax charge)

PHP 7,861.00 : For UK Nationals
(including fax charge)

PHP 3,260.00 : For other nationalities
(Including fax charge)

4 working days for Filipino nationals
7 working days for other nationalities

Tourist Visa on Arrival (TVoA) for Philippine Nationals

Philippine passport holders, travelling for the purpose of tourism only, can avail of the visa-on-arrival facility at Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata airports. With effect from 15th August 2013, this facility has also been extended at Trivandrum, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Kochi airports.

Visa on Arrival Facility is available for holders of passport of following countries
Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Luxembourg, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue Island, Norway, Oman, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands,Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam.

  • International Travellers whose sole objective of visiting India is recreation , sight seeing , casual visit to meet friends or relatives, short duration medical treatment or casual business visit.
  • Passport should have at least six months validity from the date of arrival in India. The passport should have at least two blank pages for stamping by the Immigration Officer.
  • International Travellers should have return ticket or onward journey ticket,with sufficient money to spend during his/her stay in India.
  • International Travellers having Pakistani Passport or Pakistani origin may please apply for regular Visa at Indian Mission.
  • Not available to Diplomatic/Official Passport Holders.
  • Not available to individuals endorsed on Parent’s/Spouse’s Passport i.e. each individual should have a separate passport.
  • Not available to International Travel Document Holders.
TVoA Fee: $60/person

Important Links

Online Visa Application Form

Embassy of India in the Philippines

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