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A Jogger’s Paradise For All, Rabindra Sarovar in Kolkata is the First Natural Water Body I Glided Through With Defined Strokes

This post is written by a guest contributor, Sinchita Sinha D’Silva.

Author’s Bio: Sinchita has spent a long time feeling lost, only to realize that traveling is her true calling. She loves meeting new people, freeing herself from expectations, and exploring beyond her comfort zone. She has come to appreciate the importance of the journey rather than just focusing on the destination. Sinchita adores animals and is amazed by every aspect of nature. While many are drawn to the cold and mountains, Sinchita is more of a beach bum, delighting in soaking her feet in the sand and surf. Read more about her adventures on WanderAlone.

Rabindra Sarovar in Kolkata

Has anyone beyond the limits of Bengal heard of Rabindra Sarovar in Kolkata? Technically, it may be ‘just a lake’, but it is a slice of culture to the people of Kolkata.

What is so great about the Rabindra Sarovar in Kolkata?

Situated right in the heart of South Kolkata (and an immensely affluent area) this 192-acre man-made wonder has been a major ecological reserve that includes a walkway along the entire lake. Adorned with 11,000 trees of 50 different species of which 7,500 are more than 70 to 100 years old, the lake and its surrounding are a birder’s delight with migratory birds making it their home in the winters.

Not just for wildlife photography enthusiasts, the 4-km long stone-paved jogging strip encircling the lake presents joggers with their delightful waterfront run, and ‘Thakur-der-gallery’ – a once-abandoned warehouse has found its way to becoming a museum that houses award-winning Durga idols of Kolkata.

Several clubs surround the lake, most of which are rowing clubs that host several events like kayaking, water ballet, regatta, and rowing but few others teach a life-saving skill – swimming. I happened to attend one such club.

Known by the misnomer Anderson Club because of its inauguration by the then Governor, Sir John Anderson, the Indian Life Saving Society (ILSS) might have lost its elitist elegance today. Still, one cannot deny that it was the first of its kind in Kolkata with the key purpose of “a lifesaving service and to promote systematic and scientific education in physical culture” that was pioneered by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) and later gave affiliation to ILSS in 1926. 

Why & how I experienced the Lake differently?

The wonderous conundrum of bursting excitement is what remains synonymous with the Lake but the fragments of my memory only hold dear my first dive into the lake’s ecology.

For an 8-year-old, the prospect of splashing in water can be quite an exciting thought and I was no different until I was involved in a ‘near-drowning accident’ which was thankfully noticed by my mother. From that day onwards it was a rigorous routine to discipline myself in swimming. The lesson started in the 50-metre pool and then progressed to the lake as I advanced in my lessons. 

Once I started enjoying the lessons (and focusing less on showing off after the drowning fiasco), I was eager to experience the lake. And finally, the day arrived.

I had heard rumors of people diving into the lake, getting entangled in the pondweed, and dying! Not an encouraging story that inspired diving but the anticipation of getting into the lake overcame the fear! 

As I prepped to dive (not from the same height that the rumored death had taken place), my heart was beating as fast as a Ferrari on the race circuit. But it was only momentary; the moment I touched the waters – serenity, and fulfillment replaced anxiety. As I took my strokes, the green hues and minuscule submerged particles were hard to miss. All my peripheral vision captured were weeds swaying, carps, and other unidentified fish gliding past, the only sounds that mildly reached my ears were the splash of water when my arm smoothly cut through the water and the only sensation I felt were the ripples I created and the seiches that the lake produced – I was in my element!

The eagerness to reach the demarcated finish line led me to stop midway to gauge my distance from the line. As I stopped and treaded, I felt tiny nibbles in my toes – the fish was perhaps trying to relieve me of any dead skin (my thoughts) or they were just ‘pulling my leg’! I heard my trainer urge me to touch the line that was just a few meters away and return. My tiny arms which were not accustomed to swimming 100 meters at a go had started to give up, but I wasn’t ready just yet. I pushed my limits and completed the 100-metre lap. Maybe a small feat for an 8-year-old but a feat indeed! I beamed with pride. For that little girl, it was the beginning of painting outside the lines. 

This lasted only two summers but the feeling of fulfilment remained forever!

Every day, while the joggers jogged, the dove-eyed lovers sat on corner benches for a private moment and the elderly enjoyed the flirty breeze, I was treading depths with a sense of accomplishment! 

A few years back (2021), a brisk walk around the jogger’s strip reminded me of the time I used to be in the water and not a mere spectator from the sidelines. Although times have changed, I wish to return to it someday – a welcoming closure for the young girl who learned the ‘subtle feeling of liberation’ at a tender age but realized the importance of the moment years later.

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