Walking in London

4th Apr 2013
Photo of Walking in London 1/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
National Gallery
Photo of Walking in London 2/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Walking in London 3/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Walking in London 4/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Walking in London 5/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya
Photo of Walking in London 6/6 by Sarbajaya Bhattacharya

Describing the experience that is travelling through London is difficult. The city has too many facets, too many elements, to wrap up neatly in words and present it as a package. You could spend pages describing the architecture- the Victorian, the modern, the post-modern. 

You could talk about it roads all day- what it is like to walk across the famous South Bank, or amidst old bookshops in Chelsea, the bustling of Russel Square Garden, or the silence in little lanes that branch off in different directions. 

You could speak incessantly about the Art- from the British Museum that stores the world in its rooms, or the National Gallery that leaves your head spinning by the sheer volume of its collection, or the art spilling from walls, staring up at you from the road.

 Let us pause briefly at the British Museum- an overwhelming structure at the heart of London housing some of the most famous pieces of history from all over the world, from the ancient times to the contemporary. A day is simply not enough to take it all in. You can be selective, of course, as I was (leaving out India, for instance), but even then, it would require more than a day to cover even a selected list. If you are to make a list, make sure that the Egyptian room is on it, or you will be missing out. We'll make our next stop at the National Gallery, which, again, is impossible to cover in a day. It is curated according to time and style. So if you were to make a list, cover the rooms where your favourite painters adorn the wall. I, for instance, paused at length in front of Van Gough's 'Sunflowers', rendered speechless, transfixed, rooted to the spot.


Walk down to Chelsea from the National Gallery and hunt the second-hand book stores for hidden treasures. Walk over to Piccadilly. Walk further down to the Big Ben, or the Tower of London.

 Walk along the banks of the river with the London Eye rotating ahead of you with every turn you take. Walking is the best way to discovering a city. The best way of knowing a city.

On such a walk I discovered a monument dedicated to the women who participated in the Second World War. Another dedicated to the animals that had lost their lives in war. You never know what you may find.

If you are a fan of the detective, on another day, make a trip to where he supposedly lived. A famous address, made more famous in recent times by one Benedict Cumberbatch. Next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum is a little store that sells Beatles merchandise. Its a storehouse of gems.

And if shopping is one of things on your mind, make sure you visit Camden Market. Its practically a maze, a gigantic maze, with stores that sell almost anything that you can think of. Books, clothes, cameras, posters, handmade goods, costumes, memorabilia, art, jewelry. Old things, new things. Strange things you may never have seen before. An old camera. 

A Banksy print. And then, the food market. The place is a congregation of cuisines from across the world, and I am not exaggerating. You can take your pick from Italy, Spain, Africa, India, China, Vietnam. Or you can dig into a home-made cake. Or sit down on the pavement for a cup of coffee, or a glass of cold beer.

Camden is like a jigsaw puzzle with bits and pieces of London all joined together to form an eccentric, exuberant whole. Like the city itself. Eccentric. Exuberant. Impossible to contain in words.