Once you manage to make your way through the horde of people walking in every possible direction and those standing or sitting on the sides, waiting for their trains, there are a number of different options available to you to go to your desired destination from Howrah Station. You can take the bus – there are options galore over there as well – State Buses or Private Buses or Mini Buses or the new addition, the AC Buses. If you do not want to sweat it out for a place to stand with at least 100 other people, then buses, probably, will not be your preferred mode of transportation. Don’t’ worry you will not have to walk – although you can and feel the tremors on the Howrah Bridge, yourself. Obviously, there is the fleet of cars of the Cab aggregators that you could call from your cell phone, or you could simply go out on the road and the taxiwalas will catch hold of you and dump you to your destination in the classic old Ambassador car.
But if you’re lucky, I mean really lucky, and your desired destination happens to be among the few places that ferries ply to, then you’re in for a treat. The relaxed float on the Hooghly River is also the cheapest at Rs. 5/- per trip. I feel, the ferry ride is characteristically most similar to Kolkata – it is cheap, slow and you can see the fish down in the river as well. The ferry ride also offers a panoramic view of the dwarf city skyline and the two bridges on sides – the new Vidyasagar Setu on the right and the iconic Howarh Bridge (or Rabindra Setu) on the left. Howrah Bridge, I have always felt, is just like the Eiffel Tower, only horizontal and not romantic at all.
However, all is not well with the ferry ride, too. In order to reach the jetty, from where you can catch the ferry you need to cross the road from Howrah Station and go on the other side. You can do it in two ways. First from the surface, where you can chose to ignore the traffic, as most of us do, and walk across the road hand held high in a Nazi Salute, asking the cars to slow down and make way for you. Although easier for repeat offenders, jaywalking is dangerous and hence not advisable. The second is to, simply, use the subway tunnel.
Using the subway tunnel, however, can turn out to be more dangerous than the jaywalking. The one connecting Howrah Station and the Howrah Jetty is the type that brings bad name for the subway tunnel family. A portion of it is perennially flooded by a liquid, which people hope, is not piss. It is badly lit and it smells of urine, sweat and muck. You are sure to find dog poop on the floor so it helps if you’ve played hopscotch when you were a kid, as it helps in avoiding the piss puddle and poop hills. One corner of the tunnel is under the possession of drug addicts who can be seen doing cocaine at ten in the morning. If you don’t have a strong heart, don’t look at the ceiling of the tunnel – It’s cracked, at several places.
So I hope that this Not-So-Good-Guide will help you chose your preferred mode of transportation from Howrah Stations based on your risk appetite, zeal for adventure and disease immunity.