Column: Exploring London

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: Weekends are fun time in this city with people in a holiday mood. It is also time to explore a bit of history that lies scattered everywhere here.

The Tower of London is full of history. The best thing about the place is how it has been preserved and the attempt to recreate a lot of the past. But the biggest attraction, by far, is the Crown Jewels section where the queues are the longest.

Before you see the real jewels the moving slides tell you about them as if preparing you for the encounter. The swords sheathed in our their scabbards, ceremonial maces and finally the crowns, everything is gleaming. For us and perhaps for the rest of the crowd as well the biggest attraction was the Kohinoor set in the crowd on the queen.

Some of the jewels and crowns are still used on ceremonial occasions. They are packed carefully in boxes and taken out. There is a protocol for everything that is religiously followed.

Part of Tower of London runs parallel to the Tower Bridge, another grand and historic structure. A section of the bridge can open to offer passage to ships too big to duck under it. Tourists make a beeline for the upper part of the bridge where a portion of the floor has been fitted with toughened glass on which six elephants can walk at a time. It is completely transparent and offers a beautiful view of the lower floors and the Thames river flowing below.

People sit and lie down on this glass floor to click pictures and selfies. I saw many old people looking scared and avoiding walking on this section of the bridge floor. The engine room of the bridge offers a study in history providing a glimpse into the past.

On weekends people like to spend time on the river front watching the huge buildings and ships and yachts cruising along in the Thames which, in many ways, defines the city. It is everywhere and colours everything.

Coming out of Waterloo station you cross a bridge over the Thames to reach the most famous part of central London that houses the Parliament and landmarks like Trafalgar Square. This is also the area known for its joie de vivre with ‘pubbing’ part of the culture. You can find people drinking beer In the open and some playing music both to entertain and to earn.

We had for company my old Times of India colleague, Prasun Sonwalkar who is now based in London writing for one of the most respected newspapers of India. These are busy times for journalists in London with a lot happening on the political front and the talk of the snap poll in the air.

There are several Indian restaurants in the area. We had a ‘ dosa’ at one of these eateries and then had a dollop of ice cream. It was evening by the time we made our way back to the Waterloo East station. The view of Thames and night skyline was excellent from the bridge that we had to cross on the way. We saw a man playing guitar on the bridge with a small crowd listening and enjoying. Some paid him.

The view of the London Eye, another major tourist attraction of the city, from the bridge was excellent. It is a giant wheel with a number of capsules, each accommodating 25 persons. The wheel moves slowly but the view of the city from the capsules is breathtaking.

There is much more to see and explore in London. It’s a beautiful city.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)