Tourist Attractions in Kolkata

Attractions

Overview

Kolkata the official name until 2001) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the city is approximately 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh. It is the primary business, commercial, and financial hub of Eastern India and the main port of communication for North-East India. The Port of Kolkata is India’s oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. Kolkata is regarded as the Cultural Capital of India.

Kolkata, or Calcutta as it was formerly called, is the present capital of the eastern state of West Bengal and one of the most densely populated cities in India. Kolkata became a British trading post in the last part of the 17th Century. The city that once served as the showpiece capital of the British power in India is noted for its colonial buildings including the grand Victoria Memorial. Other important sights include the Howrah Bridge, an engineering marvel that links the city and Howrah Station, and the Indian Museum. Gateway to eastern India and home to prominent intellectuals, the city is known for its easy pace and intellectual prowess.

Place to Visit

Places to Visit:

  • Eden Gardens(one of the most famous cricket stadiums in the world),
  • Akashwani Bhavan, All India Radio building
  • Indoor Stadium
  • Fort William, the massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1773. The fort is still in use and retains its well-guarded grandeur. Visitors are allowed in with special permission only.
  • Victoria MemorialAlong St. George’s Gate Road, on the southern fringe of the Maidan, you will find Kolkata’s most famous landmark , a splendid white marble monument (CLOSED MONDAYS).
  • Calcutta Racecourse
  • Chowringee, is the Market place of Kolkata. You will find shops ranging from Computer Periferals to cloth merchants. Even tailors and a few famous Movie theaters too. This place is a favourite pass time for local people.
  • Nakhoda Mosque(the largest mosque in Kolkata) and the
  • Shobhabajar Rajbarithe ancestral house of Rja Naba Krishna, one of the rich locals to side with Clive during his war with Nabab Siraj-Ud-Daula.
  • Jorasanko Thakur Bari(Tagore Family residence and museum).
  • Parashnath Jain Temple, near the Belgachia metro station. Entry is officially restricted to Jains only since 2012 by order of management.
  • Parashnath Jain Temple, at Gouribari, less visited, reachable from the Sovabazar Metro station (take an auto rickshaw).
  • Marble Palace, The marble palace was the private mansion of Zamindar (Land owner) Raja Rajendro Mullick, who had built this palace in 1835. It is situated on the Muktaram Babu Street in a congested part of the city. A real garden, of may be an acre with a Palladian Mansion set square in the centre. Today this place has an incongruous collection of statues and paintings. There is also a private zoo housing a collection of birds from different corners of the world.
  • The Howrah Bridgespans the Hooghly River linking Howrah to Kolkata. It is said to be the busiest bridge in the world. No photos allowed.
  • Kali temple of Dakshineswaris to the north of the city on the banks of the Ganges, across from Belur Math.
  • The Tollygunge Clubis one of the oldest clubs and a famous colonial relic housing a golf course, horse riding facilities, swimming pools, accommodation, etc. Its located in Tollygunge area.
  • Rabindra Sarovaris a large open lake and park area housing boating clubs, an open air theatre and eateries and comes under the Ballygunge area.
  • Birla Industrial & Technological Museumon Gurusaday Road in Ballygunge.
  • Maulana Azad Museumon Ballygunge Circular Road in Ballygunge.
  • Royal Calcutta Golf Clubis the oldest golf club in the world after St. Andrews in Scotland,located in Tollygunge.
  • Tollywood(the home of Bengali Films) and Television centre are also found in Tollygunge.
  • Ramakrishna Mission Institutein Golpark,at Ballygunge.
  • The Birla Templeis the largest in Kolkata and worth a visit.Its located on Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue (Old Ballygunge Road) in Ballygunge.
  • National Library of Indiaat Alipore.
  • The South City Mallat Lake Gardens, the biggest shopping mall of Eastern India.
  • The Kalighat Kali Temple, very famous to Hindus, it houses Kolkata’s patron deity.
  • Mother Teresa’s Hospitalfor the destitute is next door to the Kalighat temple.
  • China Townnear Park circus houses some of the finest Chinese eateries.
  • Inox-Forumat Elgin Road near Rabindra Sadan — multiplex movie hall along with a big shopping mall
  • Big Bazaron E. M. Bypass at Highland Park (Baghajatin)- here you can buy almost everything under the sun at reasonable price
  • Gariahatwhich comes under Ballygunge area.It is the biggest shopping district of Kolkata,where one can find shops ranging from branded showrooms and malls like Pantaloons,westside,Raymonds to numerous smaller shops.
  • Howrah Station
  • The Botanical Gardensat Sibpur.
  • Belur Math, a huge complex and the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.

When to Reach

When to Reach
The autumn and winter months between October and February are the best time to visit Kolkata, as the weather is perfect and festivities are aplenty. This is the season which witnesses the peak arrival of travellers, especially during Durga Puja. Kolkata, with an eastern tropical climate, has light winters, hot and somewhat humid summers. Summers are the least desirable options for a traveller, and monsoons, although lovely, is not exactly the best season worth a visit.

Durga Puja, held in September–October, is Kolkata’s most important and largest festival and is a good time to visit the city. It is an occasion for glamorous celebrations and artistic decorations. The Bengali New Year, known as Poila Boishak, as well as the harvest festival of Poush Parbon are among the city’s other festivals. Some of the other festivals celebrated are Kali Puja, Diwali, Holi, Jagaddhatri Puja, Saraswati Puja, Rathayatra, Janmashtami, Maha Shivratri, Vishwakarma Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Ganesh Chathurthi, Makar Sankranti, Gajan, Kalpataru Day, Bhai Phonta, Maghotsab, Eid, Muharram, Christmas, Buddha Purnima and Mahavir Jayanti.

Why Should Go?

Why should I go?

Kolkata, India’s second biggest city, is a perpetually ongoing festival of human existence, concurrently luxurious and squalid, refined and frantic, pointedly futuristic, while beautifully in decay. A vibrant 350-year-old metropolis located on India’s Eastern Coast, the capital of West Bengal thrives on contradictions and imposing spectacles; nothing is commonplace in this city. Famously known as the City of Joy, Kolkata is, in every sense, the artistic, cultural and intellectual capital of the country. Kolkata’s streets are vivid, hectic, chaotic, and yet, brimming with life and creativity. Driven by the indomitable spirit of the self-made middle class, the city has created a beautiful juxtaposition of the old colonial-era charm with the nascent upcoming hipster culture that thrives amongst the city’s millennial residents.

Kolkata is a city of colonial architecture, museums, art galleries, traditional food, temples, music and theatre. It is an amalgamation of traditional and modern. It is famous for its theatre and films. It is the land of Rabindranath Tagore and the sound of Rabindra Sangeet can be heard from every house. It is a shopper’s delight for embroidered linen, kantha embroidery, cotton and silk sarees.

Starting from admiring the flourishing art scene in the city to going on rewarding gastronomical explorations to wandering amidst the countless bazaars to sitting by the banks of the Hooghly and enjoying a peaceful sunset, Kolkata is soaked in layers and layers of heritage and culture, and peeling off each layer to look beneath the hood is a very rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the famous quote goes, “If you want a city with a soul, come to Calcutta”.
Formerly the capital of the British Empire before the government was shifted to Delhi, Kolkata has a distinct tinge of its royal past lingering in every nook and cranny of the city. If you want to soak in some of the city’s regal past, take a walk along the streets of North Kolkata, which houses some of the oldest mansions in the city, swathed with vines and a persistent sense of aristocratic pride. Kolkata is home to Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral house, which has now been converted into a museum and houses a staggering collection of family portraits and paintings. There are plenty of ghats all over the city where you can sit and enjoy a sunset while sipping on tea, one of the most noted of these being the Prinsep Ghat, which offers stunning views of the Vidyasagar Setu in the backdrop. Close by is Millennium Park, which is a beautified waterfront park from where you can avail boat rides and cruises.
Kolkata has a very lively nightlife, and the entire stretch along Park Street houses innumerable bars and pubs where you can party the night away. Kolkata’s street food is famous all across the country, and the city is lined with eateries and food stalls at every corner, where you can savour local Bengali food, or try out local snacks such as Jhalmuri, or Ghugni Chaat.

Kolkata is an important trading center for handicrafts produced in Eastern India. Bankura horses, saris from Shantiniketan, and leather goods top the list of Kolkata specialities. It is also famous for its rasgollas and a tin or two as a gift for the folks back home. New Market is probably the most famous place to go shopping but there are bargains everywhere.

Kolkata was famous for having the best restaurants long before Indians in other cities learned to eat out. Many of the restaurants that line the streets in the Esplanade area have been around for more than a hundred years (unfortunately, many also show their age!). Flury’s , on Park Street, was once considered the best English bakery in all of Asia and you can almost imagine Joe Stilwell and Lord Mountbatten arguing over who had command over the allied forces in Burma while enjoying tea, scones, and clotted cream!

But the joy of food in Kolkata is in its Indian foods. Nizam’s, in New Market, is credited with the invention of the famous Kati Kebab roll and still serves up the best of the best. Street vendors selling egg rolls/chicken rolls abound and their freshly prepared kati rolls are safe to eat and enjoy. Mughali Paratha (a paratha stuffed with minced meat) is a Calcutta speciality and can be found in various ‘cabins’ off Chowringhee Road. ‘Chops’, a sort of deep fried ball stuffed with beet and veggies is another peculiarity that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Puchkas, the Calcutta version of paani-puri, is available on the streets but be wary of the water!

Bengali sweets are famous all over India. Rasagolla (cheese balls dipped in a sugary syrup), Pantua – a fried variant of the same, Rosomalai- the same cheeseballs dipped in creamy sweetened milk, Mishti Doi (sweet yogurt), Sandesh (several variations available). Try some shops like K.C. Das, Jugal’s, Bhim Nag, Nakur Nandy, Sen Mahasoy, Ganguram and not to forget Mithai. These are cheap and should be eaten fresh.

Getting Around

Getting Around:

Kolkata just wouldn’t look the same without the plethora of yellow ambassador taxis that ply on its roads. They’re easily available and relatively cheap, and will usually use their meters, especially outside tourist locations.

Metro Railway, Kolkata was the first underground rail in India also to become first underwater rapid transit system in india which will connect howrah & kolkata under a tunnel in Ganges(River), yet it still has only a single route connecting the north and south of the city, from Dumdum to Garia. It is the cleanest, most reliable, least crowded and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 10 minutes or 5 minutes.

Calcutta Tramways is the only tram service in all of India, and the oldest surviving electric tram network of Asia. Though decommissioned in some part of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of traveling between places within the city. They move slowly on the laid tracks in traffic jammed streets, but they are environment friendly (no emission). Trams are a great way to observe the old northern and central parts of Kolkata because of their pace. Apart from this, there are Heritage Tram Tours conducted by the West Bengal Tourism Department which is a great way to understand the city’s past.

The electrified suburban rail network of the SER and the ER is extensive and includes the Circular Rail.

The city has an extensive bus network (possibly the most exhaustive in the whole of India), and this is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. Among the buses that ply the city streets, the deluxe buses run by CSTC (Calcutta State Transport Corporation), CTC (Calcutta Tramways Company) and WBSTC (West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation) are probably the better option. There are lot of private buses plying on the streets of Kolkata. Apart from the buses of standard length, there are mini buses also on the streets. Many buses are low floor.

Shared auto-rickshaws are available from different points. They travel in fixed routes and the fare is fixed. They are supposed to take four persons, three in the back seat and one sharing the driver’s seat!

Privately owned rental car places are available throughout the city. Rates depend on the make, model, size and comfort level of the car. Agreements are flexible, for example, cars can be rented even for couple of hours at an hourly rate. Most rental cars are accompanied with a driver from the rental agency.

Weather

Weather:

Kolkata is subject to a tropical wet-and-dry climate that is designated Aw under the Köppen climate classification. Summers (March–June) are hot and humid, with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius; during dry spells, maximum temperatures sometime exceed 40 °C (104 °F) in May and June. Winter lasts for roughly two-and-a-half months, with seasonal lows dipping to 9–11 °C (48–52 °F) in December and January. May is the hottest month, with daily temperatures ranging from 27–37 °C (81–99 °F); January, the coldest month, has temperatures varying from 12–23 °C (54–73 °F). The winter is mild and very comfortable weather pertains over the city throughout this season.

Kolkata has 3 main seasons: Summer, Monsoon, and winter. Summer, from March to May, is hot and humid with temperatures touching 38-42° Celsius. Monsoon starts in June and lasts until September/October. These months are very humid and sometimes sultry. The average annual rainfall is about 1,625 mm and most of rain falls in this monsoon season. Winter runs from November to February. Winter is the best season to visit the city as these months are most pleasant and rainless.