A crucible of rich culture, history, literature and art; the first capital of British India, the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning writer-thinker Rabindranath Tagore, and a paradise for food lovers – Kolkata is a city you’re unlikely to forget.
The streets bear symbols of a vibrant past that’s somewhere stuck in the present. The iconic landmark of Victoria Memorial with its grand colonial architecture is a reminder of the city’s indelible link with the British East India Company; while Kalighat’s ancient temple dedicated to Goddess Kali is a marker of Kolkata’s deep-rooted faith in the female power. Cultural chronicles aside, Kolkata is also known for the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, home to the famous Bengal Tiger.
Another defining feature of Kolkata is its people. An otherwise lazy city, its people are unanimously passionate about their regional art and literature and enjoy indulging in endless debates about Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry, Satyajit Ray’s cinema, the country’s politics and the delicacies of Bengali cuisine.
A mecca for foodies, especially fish lovers, Kolkata’s street food is a thing of gastronomical legends. If you want to get a taste of upscale Kolkata, head to the posh Park Street for its many restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs.
A colourful city full of character, it will never fail to surprise you with soul stirring sights, sounds and conversations.
In and Around
The construction of the sixth longest cantilever bridge in the world, the Howrah Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks of Kolkata. The bridge was originally called the New Howrah Bridge as it was meant to replace an older pontoon bridge on the Hoogly River. The bridge is often considered to be one of the major National Landmarks in India and is also called the Rabindra Setu after the famous Bengali literary figure Rabindranath Tagore.
Jorasanko Thakurbari or the House of the Thakurs is the ancestral residence of the Tagore family. The mansion was built during the 18th century by Prince Dwarkanath Tagore the grandfather of Rabindranath Tagore. The place now houses the Rabindra Bharathi University and a museum that contains the various articles and articles that depict and describe the life and times of the Tagores.
Park Street is also called Food Street and the Street that never sleeps by the locals due to the various restaurants and pubs located in the area. The place was one of the top night life spots during the 70’s and the 80’s. The street is one of the major attractions in Kolkata and is visited by a huge number of tourist and local crowds.
The Indian Museum in Kolkata is the largest and the oldest museums in India and was established in 1814. The museum contains 6 sections which are further split in 35 galleries and contain a plethora of various antiquities, artifacts, paintings and mummies etc. The museum was established by a Dutch botanist under the British, Dr. Nathaniel Wallich and is one of the oldest museums in the world.
Victoria Memorial is located on the plains at the banks of the River Hoogly and was completed in 1921. It is dedicated in the memory of Queen Victoria and is currently a museum. After the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Lord Curzon commissioned the construction of this memorial and is built in a unique architectural blend of Mughal and British styles. The museum contains 25 galleries that house various antiquities and artifacts.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple
This is a very famous temple located in Dakshineswar, near kolkata. The deity of the temple is Bhavatarini. The ambience is very divine and peaceful. One can get the peace of mind here. It is a must see place in Kolkata. It is well constructed with good architect. Here you can also enjoy the boat riding.
Belur Math Shrine
It is one among the best place to visit in Kolkata. It is a quite location in busy city. It is situated by holy river Ganges. Founder of this Math is Swami Vivekananda. The serene campus of Belur Math on the Ganga includes temples dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda, in which their relics are enshrined, and the main monastery of the Ramakrishna Order.
Kalighat is a ghat of Maa Kali. Kolkata has been said to derived its name from kalighat. This is out of 52 sati pith according to puranas.
The Fort is named after King William III of England. Fort William was constructed in 1781 to mark the victory of Robert Clive over Sir David Ochterlony at Plassey. The large patch of garden that surrounds the fort is called the maidan. The Maidan is 3 kilometer long and 1 kilometer wide. It is the largest urban park in Kolkata. Within the Fort’s premise there lies a church, cinema, boxing stadium, market, football ground, post and telegraph office, swimming pool and firing range.
South Park Street Cemetery
The South Park Street Cemetery was constructed way back in 1767. It was built in order to accommodate British Soldiers. The cemetery is one of the oldest burial grounds of the city. The cemetery has big headstone that dates back about a century and give it an ancient look. The calm surroundings of the cemetery are really enjoyable.
The Writers Building, during the British Rule, used to be the junior servants (the clerical and administrative staff) building. The junior servants then were called writers hence the name came into existence as “Writers Building”. Today the Building is house to the Secretariat of West Bengal Government. It is a massive red color building situated at the BBD square of Kolkata which is the heart of the city.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The St. Paul’s Cathedral is built on the basis of Indo-Gothic architectural style and was designed by Major William Nairn Forbes. The foundation of the building was laid in 1839. It took eight long years to complete the construction. The main building was destroyed twice because of the massive earthquakes and was rebuilt. The last time it was destroyed in 1934 and was re-built on the lines of the Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral.
The National library is located at the Belvedere Estate very near to the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. The National library of Kolkata is the largest library in India.The National library was the residence of the former Lieutenant Governor of West Bengal. The library at present contains almost 2 million books and half a million documents.
The Shahid Minar in Kolkata, West Bengal was built by Sir David Ochterlony in the year 1948 to immortalize his astounding triumph in the Nepal War that took place in the period between 1814 and 1816. This skyscraper monument standing at approximately 48 meters enlightens the night sky of the Maidan region situated in the hub of Kolkata, as it is superficially illuminated by a dazzling shower of bright light from all its corners.
Built between 1807 and 1813, the Town Hall is one of Kolkata’s iconic landmarks. Designed by Col. John Garstin in Roman-Doric style, this building was initially used as a venue for public gatherings. It has two floors that stand on a rectangular base and supported by rows of pillars. The building features two spacious porticoes that give the whole structure a distinct charm. From being a property of the Calcutta Municipality in 1867 to an ideal venue for conducting exhibitions during the 19th century, this hall served many purposes.
Built during the colonial era, Princep Ghat is one of Kolkata’s earliest recreational spots. Both locals and tourists from other parts of the nation visit this place to spend moments of repose. The presence of the Hooghly River right next to it adds uniqueness and immense beauty. By far, the most iconic feature of this place is the Palladian porch that was built in the memory of James Princep – the renowned Anglo-Indian scholar and antiquary. The intricate Greek and Gothic inlays on this structure give off a brilliant look.
ISKCON Kolkata, Sri Sri Radha Govind Temple is India’s first ISKCON centre that has been attracting countless devotees and tourists since its establishment in 1972. The shrine was set up by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada – a Gaudiya Vaishnava spiritual teacher (guru), who is known to have established many temples across the world. The temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, is made of granite and marble in an architectural style that catches attention of every onlooker. Inside the temple, there is a skilfully carved wooden altar. The first Rath Yatra in Kolkata was organised by this shrine in the year 1972. Since then, it is one of the regular annual festivals held in the city. For visitors, there is a vegetarian restaurant within the complex that features a beautiful garden in the centre.
Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary
The Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary is located at the foothills of the eastern Himalayas and is one of the major strongholds for the rare one horned Indian Rhino. The forest reserve is spread across an area of 216.51 square kilometers and is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna. The various animal species found here are the Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Elephants, Sambar, Indian Bison and wild boar etc.
The construction of the temple began in 1970 and took 26 years to complete. Birla Temple is one of the several Birla temple landmarks that are located in various major cities across India. The temple was commissioned by the Industrial Birla Family of India and is dedicated to Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. The temple is built in carved white marble and is spread across an approximate area of 130 acres of land.
The Royal Calcutta turf club was founded in 1847 in the British India and was the 1st horse racing organization in India. The Calcutta or the Kolkata Racecourse was established in 1820 and is one of the oldest horse race courses in the country. The races are operated between the months of July to September and November to March on Saturdays or any other public holidays.
Located just opposite to the Hotel Sonar Bangla, Science City is one of the prominent places to visit in Kolkata. It is the largest science center in the Indian subcontinent housing different types of galleries that include the Dynamotion Hall, exhibiting the scientific principles of illusions, powers of ten, fresh water aquarium and live butterfly enclave; the Earth Exploration Hall, displaying the details of Southern and Northern hemisphere; the Evolution Park that showcases from the dinosaur era to the robotic era; and the Space Odyssey that maintains 3D vision theatre, Mirror Magic and Time Machine. The Maritime Center dilates the maritime history of India and the Science Park maintains plants, animals and other objects in their natural surroundings.
The arrival of the British in India, gave the country its most favorite sport Cricket. Eden Gardens are a massive capacity cricket ground and is often called a Cricket Colosseum. The Eden Gardens are the largest capacity cricket ground in the country and the 3rd largest in the world. The Stadium is one of the most iconic cricket grounds in India and is home to the Kolkata Knight Riders cricket club in the Indian Premier League.
Marble Palace Mansion
The palatial mansion was built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mullick and is a residence for his descendants till date. The architecture of the Marble Palace Mansion is neoclassical and is considered the best preserved sites of this style of architecture. The palace also houses a museum which contains various antique furniture and old paintings. The nearby zoo called the Marble Palace zoo is also a must visit.
It is a perfect getaway for fun lovers. It is full of entertainment. It is a best amusement park in Kolkata. It also has water park. It has many rides famous are roller coaster, merry- go- round, choo choo and water splashers.
Although it is known as new market, but it is oldest market of Kolkata. It is situated at Lindsay street. It is a perfect place for shopaholics. Here you get everything you desire for. It is a very busy and crowded market of Kolkata. It is a very huge market, it has different markets in a single market such as spice market, non-veg stuff market, cloth market, jewellery market and many more.
It is some 185 kms South-west of Kolkata, is also a popular beach resort. 8 km from here, across in the state of Orissa is the Chandeshwar Siva Temple.
Just 131 km away and is home to spotted deer, wild pigs, monkeys, herons, kingfishers, white bellied eagles and almost 250 Bengal tigers.
Situated 39 km north of Kolkata was one of the French enclaves in India. It was finally handed over to India in 1951. It has dilapidated structures of the French era.
Diamond Harbour that is 51 Kms south of Kolkata is a beach resort. Take a boat to Sagar Island (SagarDwip). It is also possible to go by bus. The island is considered the point where the Ganges meets the ocean. Every year during Makar Sankranti, which is held in mid January, hundreds of thousands of people throng here for a dip in the waters and a visit to the Kapil Muni Temple.
Bishnupur 152 km away from Kolkata was the capital of the Malla kings and is famous for the terracotta temples, classical music (Bishnupur Gharana) and Bankura pottery. It is also famed for the Jhapan festival held in mid-August which is a prayer to Goddess Manasa, the goddess of snakes. A great snake show is held here and the town is thronged with snake charmers, believers and curious onlookers.
Shantiniketan a sylvan retreat is 213 kms away, far from the madding crowd of Kolkata. Rabindranath Tagore’s concept of nature being conducive to learning is upheld even today and classes are still held under shady trees. Splendid frescos, murals and paintings adorn the walls and the campus of the Vishwa Bharti University. Shantiniketan can be reached by rail (Bolpur is the nearest railhead 2 km away) or by road.
Renowned for its longest drivable beach in India, Mandarmani is located in the East Midnapore district of West Bengal. Situated at a distance of 14 km from Chaulkhola, the village is one of the fastest developing tourist attractions of West Bengal. Called Mandarboni by the locals, the village offers peaceful settings for tourists to unwind and spend some quality time. The prime attraction of the village is the 13 km beach. It the longest drivable beach in India. Visitors can experience water sports activities like surfing, jet skiing, banana boat rides, ATV bikes and bungee trampoline. The beach is also an ideal spot to watch sunrise and sunset.
Shopping in Kolkatta
Kolkata has innumerable markets throughout the city. New Market and Old New Market are the most popular bazaars of Kolkata. Handicrafts, Baluchari saris and leather goods are the most popular tourist buys in Kolkata. Saris and other textiles having kantha embroidery are also extremely famous. One can also find muslin cloth in some of the emporiums in Kolkata. Considered one of the finest cloth materials in the world, muslin is a slightly expensive.
The most popular festival in the city, Durga Pooja is celebrated for nine days with great pomp and enthusiasm across the city. The festival is celebrated, between the months of September and October, to mark the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasur. Durga Pooja is celebrated in other parts of India as Navratri. Dussehra marks the culmination of Durga Pooja.
The best time to visit Kolkata is between October and March.
How to Reach
Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is situated at Dumdum, which is about 17 kilometres away from the heart of the city. This airport has good connectivity across major cities in India and abroad. From the airport you can take a taxi or a bus to your final destination. Volvo buses ply on multiple routes so just confirm at the airport the bus you should be taking for your address.
Kolkata has an efficient network of railways and is well linked to cities across the country. Superfast trains such as Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express connect Kolkata from Delhi and nearby places. There are two major railway stations in the city – one is located in Howrah and the other at Sealdah.
Kolkata is connected with most of the Indian cities by road. The National Highway number 2 and 6 connect the city with other cities and states in India. Kolkata has a broad network of government and private buses. The Calcutta State Transport Corporation (CSTC), Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC) and West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC) run regulars bus service in the city. The Esplanade Terminus in the heart of the city is the main bus terminus.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Jameson Inn Shiraz
56, Mullick Bazar Park Street,
Opposite to Shiraz Restaurant,
Kolkata, West Bengal 700017
Park Plaza Kolkata Ballygunge
17 Garcha, 1st Lane, Kolkata,
West Bengal 700019
4, Royd Street, Kolkata,
West Bengal 700016
Where to Eat
Kolkata is a foodie’s delight. One can find eateries serving delicious authentic Bengali cuisine to other Indian and international cuisine. Most of the famous eateries are over hundred-years-old. Park Street is the most famous place to eat in Kolkata. Kathi kebab is the most famous fast-food in Kolkata served at its best in the New Market area, Hogg Market and Elgin Street.
Kolkata thrives on street food like chops, rolls and puchka that are also extremely delicious and found throughout city. Puchkas are known in rest of India as gol gappas or pani puris.Flurry’s on Park Street is considered one of the best Swiss bakeries in the continent. Coffee bars in Kolkata are extremely popular. Coffee House is the most famous coffee shop. Bengali milk sweets like rasagulla, misthi doi, sandesh, ras-malai, etc. are served at its best in Kolkata. They are found almost everywhere in the city.
Hyatt Regency Kolkata,
JA – 1, Sector – III,
Salt Lake, Kolkata,
West Bengal 700098
49/2, Gariahat Road,
Behind Pantaloons, Kolkata,
West Bengal 700019
49C, Purna Das Road, Hindustan Park,
Gariahat, Kolkata, West Bengal 700029