Walking along the wet pavements on a chilly wintry evening looking at the imposing palatial buildings, beautiful churches and parks is bound to make one feel romantic and dreamy. Such is the charm of Moscow, the capital and the largest city of Russia.
The city with rich political, cultural and economic heritage is strewn with elegant sprawling buildings all over, that speak of the bygone era.
One can spend a whole day looking at the beautiful architecture of the Kremlin, the official residence of the President of Russia. And then step into the Red Square area, which is considered as the central square of Moscow.
No one can miss the beautiful Saint Basil's Church in the Red Square area with its colourful onion shaped domes. Saint Basil's Cathedral is a showcase of Renaissance Russian architecture.
Facing Red Square is the most famous mall in Moscow, Gum. It is not one of the glass buildings that we are accustomed to see as a mall. It is also one of those imposing old structures.
Though the Soviet Communism period is long gone, there are umpteen number of buildings and statues to remind us of that era.
The city is named after the river Moskva, which has meandered through it. A ferry ride along the river during sunset is an ideal opportunity to enjoy the beauty and grace of the city.
The city has a subway under it, helping daily commuters to move from one part to the other easily, avoiding notorious traffic congestion.
With beautiful stations, the metro rail service in the city is one of the oldest in the world. Starting its operations in 1935, it now has 197 stations. Along with the old architectures in the city this also speaks about the heritage. During the extreme winter months, metro rides are very pleasurable as they protect people from the chilly breeze outside.
In some parts of the city tramway networks are also visible.
Though the city experiences extreme cold weather for almost seven months, that does not stop the wanderlusts from visiting the place even in November to experience the chill in the air and snow. But one should wear enough warm clothes to protect oneself.
"It is a beautiful city. There is so much to see and experience. But food is a problem for Indians," Tanvi Bakshi, an Indian tourist, told IANS in Moscow.
The locals usually eat a lot of red meat and potato and of course drink Vodka! All these help them maintain their body temperature in the extreme winter time, when the mercury level even dips as low as -10 or -15 degree Celsius.
Language is a hindrance. A majority of the population speaks only Russian. Even the road signs are in Russian. These factors definitely make travelling a little difficult for the tourists.
But the sheer attraction of the place surpasses all kinds of obstacles. After speaking to a local tourist guide, this became clearer. "For the last five-six years we have seen a huge number of Chinese tourists visiting Russia. But for some reason, this year there was a lot of Indian tourists as well," Svetlana, the guide, told IANS.
For Indian travellers this is a good time to visit Moscow as the difference between Rupee and Rouble is marginal.
A must visit is the memorial museum of Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, the Russian poet, playwright, and novelist of the Romantic era.
Besides the old buildings, one should also visit the Moscow International Business Center also known as Moscow-City. Europe's tallest building, the Federation Tower, is located in Moscow-City. A stroll on the observation deck of any of these sky scrappers will give one the feeling of walking on Cloud 9.
Till date, Russians' feel strongly connected with India through legendary Bollywood actor Raj Kapoor. Many of them still recollect watching his Shree 420. Songs of blockbuster hit movie of 1980s Disco Dancer are fresh in their memories. Even some of them can hum a line or two of the song 'Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy Aaja' from that movie!
(Aparajita Gupta was in Moscow at the invitation of The Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)