Kolkata is not only modern India’s intellectual, artistic and cultural capital, it also has been a major trading centre for the British East India Company during their formative years in the country. The result is a bustling megapolis that has all the makings of modern Indian city yet displays a wealth of gems from the colonial architecture and heritage. Belonging as much to the lower sections that prevail in its chaos as to the middle class that runs the city, Kolkata woos with its simplicity, its diversity and its rich history.
Top Things to Do in Kolkata
You don’t even need a tourist guide to include Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial in your itinerary as you are bound to be led to these iconic attractions at some point. To further your pursuit of architectural marvels, visit the grand Marble Palace and the stunning Belur Math. The religious fervour can be tapped at temples such as Nipponzan Myohoji, Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Birla Mandir whereas the artistic heritage can be mapped by visiting Mud Statues of Kumortuli and Tagore’s House. The city of famed readers, thinkers and philosopher’s is host to world’s largest second hand book market – College Street that also remains lined up by some of the city’s leading educational institutes. For respite from the hustle of this fast-paced city, a visit to the lush Botanical Gardens is always a good idea. The 250-year-old ‘world’s largest banyan tree’ is the most popular attraction in the gardens. A trip to Sunderbans can also be planned for a rendezvous with the mighty Bengal Tiger.
Where to Stay
The Park Street area in Kolkata is best for those looking for top-end accommodation options as well as a centrally-placed locality. A number of historical attractions are nearby as are some of the best restaurants and nightlife options. Backpackers prefer the Sudder Street where good accommodation comes at cheap prices. For top-end luxury the LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata is your best bet. However, if you are looking for a heritage property, consider Oberoi Grand, Astor or Calcutta Bungalow.
There’s nothing that Bengalis (main residents of Kolkata) like more than their food, and this makes the city one of the best places in the country to gobble upon sweet (the city has a big sweet tooth) and savoury delicacies. Most of the cooking is done in mustard oil and fish, rice and vegetables are at the centre of most meals and street food is big here. Some of the dishes you can’t leave the city without trying include macher jhol, kosha mangsho, alur torkari, cholar dal, luchi, shukto, sondesh and roshogolla.
Handicrafts, rare books, textiles, jewellery, tea and more can be bought in the city’s bustling markets, including New Market and Chowringhee Road, Dakshinapan Shopping Center, College Street and Bara Bazaar.
How to Get to Kolkata
British Airways, Air India, Jet Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways are some of the airlines running from London Heathrow to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. Flights to Kolkata are also available from London Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham amongst other major airports in the UK. Read more ...