Kolkata – India’s own sub continent’s London ,city of joy , city of palaces, the second largest city in India ,commercial capital of East India, capital of West Bengal and also an ”in your face” city that shocks and charms the visitors at the same time. It is third most populous city of India, thirteenth most populous city of world and has also been classified into eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.
It was the capital of India during British emperor. Long known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata continues to spawn generations of poets, writers, film producers and Nobel Prize winners. If you want to have a memorable trip of India and it only allows for a visit of one or two of India’s metropolitan cities, then definitely consider placing Kolkata on your itinerary. Love it or hate it, you definitely won’t forget the city on the Hooghly. It is a place where different travellers like, God lovers, experience seekers, photo fanatics all can get what they are looking for.
As per lonely planet Kolkata was once the country’s city of dreams and it appealed not only to people from across the seas, but also to those who crossed over, from other less prosperous states at the time.
History:Kolkata’s history is closely related to the British East India Company, which first arrived in 1690, and to British India, of which Calcutta became the capital of in 1772. Job Charnock was widely known as the founder of Calcutta (Sutanuti, Govindapur & Calcutta) but in recent years a number of Indian historians have disputed this claim, arguing that Calcutta occupies the site of an older Indian city, centred around the ancient Kali temple at Kalighat. This claim has been accepted by the Kolkata High Court.
How to reach:It is easily accessible by air and is also well linked to other parts of country by railways and roads.
By air: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport connects Kolkata with South East Asia and receives some flights from Europe. Most of the traffic towards Western hemisphere is handled by Emirates and Qatar Airways while the domestic terminal is among the best in India.
By train: Kolkata is having two major railway stations – Howrah and Sealdah. Directly facing Howrah are ferries (Rs. 4) that can get you to the other side of the river either Babu Ghat or Fairlie Place from where you can arrange onward transportation with anything from taxis to public buses to human rickshaws. With the traffic situation this might actually save you time as well as money.
By Bus: Numerous options are there if you are planning to come via bus. Buses are available from all the neighbour states. Esplanade Bus Station is the Kolkata’s main station for inter-state and inter-city buses.
Places to visit:
Indian Museum – Largest museum in Asia and the oldest in Asia Pacific region, you can have a close rendezvous with Egyptian mummies, dinosaurs’ fossils. I t has been founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal; the Indian Museum is the oldest and the largest multi-purpose museum in the entire Asia-Pacific region of the world. It was the formation of this museum that pioneered the idea of having a museum to foster man-made and natural objects of national importance. The collection at the museum is so remarkable that it is often regarded as the “Jadu Ghar” or the house of magic by the locals. Built in the Italian style of architecture, gives a magnificent view to the museum. It has six departments for Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany, comprising more than sixty galleries. It is regarded as an Institution of National Importance by the the Constitution of India.
- Victoria Memorial – Lord Curzon’s brainchild as a memorial to the Empress of India and Queen of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria after her death in 1901, the Victoria Memorial was modelled on the Taj Mahal and was commissioned in 1906. The memorial holds numerous paintings of the British royal family, miniature paintings of the Mughal School, oil paintings of the Company School, historical artefacts like the throne of the Nawab of Bengal, many lithographs and documents of historical interest, and various post-Raj artefacts significant in the history of Kolkata (added to the collection after independence). The memorial is set in extensive and beautiful lawns, and is lit up at night. A laser audio-visual show is held on the lawns every evening. ‘Nike’, the Greek Goddess of victory, on the top of the museum is said to be haunted, and has been prominently featured in many Kolkata stories and novels. It is regarded with pride and joy in Kolkata and colloquially referred to as the “Victoria”.
- Science City – a complex near the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass featuring a lot of interactive science and live bioscience exhibits and Kolkata’s first OMNIMAX theatre.
- Esplanade, situated at Betnick street , one of the busiest portions buzzing with many activities, famous adda and Fun spot for everyone and every kind of people. It is well known for Shopping, playing, Fun activity, Picnics, Sports indoor, sports outdoor, Businessman , employees, salesman everyone. The centre of attraction of the place is Hotel Taj Bengal, Esplanade Shopping Chains of footpath sellers. Sri Ram Market, Big Bazar, City mart and many small and big malls in and around is the best place to shopping in weekend. Shopping is these areas are affordable for every kind of people whether is richer or poor on and you can count your own bargaining skills to get the best deals here.
- Howrah Bridge – Kolkata’s Landmark. An iconic view, it will make you fall in love with the city even more. An engineering marvel in itself. Stopping and photography is not allowed on the bridge. Security guys will object if you take out your camera. Bridge can be clicked from the ferry that takes people from one bank to another. Landmark Bridge in Kolkata, worth a quick visit. Illuminated at night. The other bridge, vidyasagar sethu is wider and longer and is tolled.
- Kalighat Kali Temple – Kolkata’s holiest Hindu temple, dedicated to the Goddess Kali and is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas.Kalighat was a Ghat (river side) sacred to Kali on the old course of the Hooghly river (Bhāgirathi) in the city of Calcutta. The name Calcutta is said to have been derived from the word Kalighat. It is visited by pilgrims from all over India irrespective of sectarian differences. It can be best visited for God lovers, experience seekers and photo fanatics.
- Marble Palace – a privately owned collection of eclectic sculptures, paintings and a small menagerie and aviary off Chittaranjan Avenue in North Kolkata. Built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835,have two little-publicized Reubens and a Joshua Reynolds, have over 50 varieties of marble which grace the interiors of this mansion.
The list continues with Eden Garden stadium , Chowringhee road, Birla planetarium , Birla temple, Indian Botanical Garden , Nicco Park , Maidan Central East , College street , Sri Aurbindo Bhawan , Fort William , St. Pauls Church and many more.
Have a bite at:
Bhojhari Manna– named after the famous Bengali song rendered by Manna Dey in the 70’s, is a family of restaurants with a difference, and serves a delightful variety of Bengali cuisine. The menu is handwritten every day on a whiteboard and are designed keeping in mind the season, the weather, the festivities and of course the raw material available on that given day.
- Ghosh Sweets– Serving best traditional Bengali sweets in the city, especially Sandesh.
- Dacres Lane– Full of eateries, from where you can choose your own options as per your desire. It is full of Roadside stalls, small restaurants; congested .One can get cheap, good, tasty food. The most famous restaurant on this lane is Chitto’s shop.
- Nizam’s – Situated in the new market area. The Original flavour of Kathi rolls can be tried here as they are the inventors of the delicious rolls. Food is as good as one can imagine.
- “Oh! Calcutta!” – On the fourth Floor of Forum Mall, Elgin Road, serves authentic Bengali food. The specialities are the boneless Hilsa Fish fillet, steamed in a bannana leaf and served with a Mustard Gravy.
- Sare Chuttar – you will have awesome sea food which will be memorable for your taste bud for life time. Most famous is Prawns which are steamed inside coconut.
- Zeeshan @ Park circus , Aminia @ New market & Royal @ Chitpur – Kolkata’s own biryani, which have sheer delicacy of flavour, traditional plateful rose fragrant rice and the tender meat “mutton” which melts into the rice is a bliss. Can be best paired with mutton chaps.
- Paramount Syrups & Shakes – give a try to the taste of cold milk shakes with selected flavours of Green Mango, Rose, and Vanilla, Coconut Water (locally called DAAB) available at College Square. Very famous among new dating couples.
Shibuji’s Soda Shikanji – a small non-descript store that is on Theater Road, just east of Camac Street. Shikanji is a mixture of pop/soda like Coca Cola or cream soda with special Indian spice mixture made of salt, pepper, and lime and couple other common herbs. During the Holi Festival it’s a good place to get thandai, a delicious sweet spicy drink made with milk, saffron, pistachios, and other nuts and herbs (including bhang on request).
Places to stay:
- Being a metro city, one can find plenty of accommodations in and around Kolkata
- Prices starts from Rs1.5K per night for value stay and can go up-to Rs8K for premium range
- Check and compare prices from leading travel side like “http://www.goibibo.com/“, http://www.cleartrip.com/ etc
Though Kolkata is a city which has enormous places to visit, offers awesome food for food lovers and attracts tourists with its traditional culture. It cannot be explained in just one article. It can be felt by being there and by experiencing it live. So pack your bags, pull up your socks and land on city of Joy for a life time experience.
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