Fringing the Hooghly River, the city of Kolkata has a rich lineage in culture, history and cuisine, and a versatile ability to keep up with changing times. The capital of West Bengal and the birthplace of Indian communism, the city has many monikers – some perceive it as the ‘cultural capital of India’, while others know it as the ‘city of processions’ and yet more call it the ‘city of joy’.
Through a long association with the British, there is much to show for its years as the showpiece capital of colonised India with its marvellous Victorian architecture which stand tall as testimonials to its past. The city of Kolkata is full of sights and sounds that reveal traces of its colonial past. From Gothic architecture to science parks, the city is full of experiences that will humour every kind of traveller.
Known for its 250-year-old Great Banyan Tree, this ‘East India Company Bagan’ is nearly two centuries old and is the largest and oldest in South East Asia
Famously called the ‘cloud kissing monument’ by Mark Twain, the Shaheed Minar stands tall at Esplanade in Central Kolkata
The Marble Palace is an architectural wonder built by Zamindar Raja Rajendralal Mullick in 1840
ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
Streaks of European architecture are apparent at the St Paul’s Cathedral which is one of the finest examples of Indo-Gothic fusion with its large stained-glass windows and Florentine frescos
This breath-taking place is scattered with numerous shrines with manicured lawns that line the riverbank
Satisfy your curiosity about the world of science at Science City, the largest science centre in India
Located in Salt Lake in the outskirts of Kolkata, this placid lake surrounded by lush greenery, offers picnickers an option to go boating
JORASANKO THAKUR BARI
Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral home which was built in 1784 now houses the Rabindra Bharati museum which is locally called the Jorasankho Thakurbari
Named after orientalist James Princep, the Princep Ghat is perhaps the oldest recreational spot in Kolkata.
Not only was Kolkata a British stronghold, it was also the main centre for Indian Army operations after independence. The majestic Fort William was constructed in 1781 in the honour of King William III. Situated on the picturesque banks of the Hooghly, it stands tall as a testimony to all the suffering, defeats and victories of the past.
Constructed in an octagonal shape the fort houses the famous St. Peter’s Church in addition to army accommodation, offices, and recreation and training facilities including a swimming pool, a movie hall, a boxing stadium and a firing range.
Much like the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the Howrah Bridge is a landmark that has become the very identity of Kolkata. Popularly referred to as Rabindra Setu and even the gateway of Kolkata, this structure has become the face of the city owing to its grandeur and majestic appeal.
Connecting the city to the Howrah district, this steel structure runs 705 metres long and has eight lanes for traffic. It is said that over a lakh vehicles and 20 lakh commuters cross over it everyday. Illuminated by night, it is a sight to behold.
One of the everlasting impressions that stay with you long after you’ve left the City of Joy, is the gleaming white Victoria Memorial surrounded by lush greenery and wide roads. It was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1901, but was completed only two decades later.
It has been built it the Indo-Saracenic architectural style by Sir William Emerson, and makes extensive use of white marble. It exhibits an impressive collection of colonial-era paintings, manuscripts and other memorabilia, which provide interesting insights into Indian history right from the arrival of the British, up to independence.
The best known of Mother Teresa’s many homes and clinics, is Nirmal Hriday in Kolkata, which is a hospice for destitutes. In the face of local resistance, Mother Teresa chose its site at Kalighat – Kolkata’s most important centre of Hinduism – in the knowledge that many of the poor specifically come here to die, next to a holy crossingplace.
However, the area’s most famous landmark is the temple dedicated to the goddess Kali. The temple itself is hidden behind narrow alleys lined with shops, and generally thronging with devotees throughout the year. In the 19th-century, the neighbourhood around the temple also gave rise to the Kalighat school of painting.
Nearest Airport: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
Best Time to Visit: November – February
Currency: Indian Rupee
Languages: English, Bengali
Festivals: Durga Pooja