Once the greatest colonial city in the Orient, Calcutta (now ‘Kolkata’), today ranks among the four major metropolis of India along with Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. It originated largely due to the expansionist ambitions of the European powers, especially the British Raj. Little wonder, Kolkata has some of the finest British edifices built in a variety of styles.
Tourist Attractions of Kolkata
Victoria Memorial: Built to commemorate Queen Victoria's 1901 diamond jubilee, the structure of Victoria Memorial was finally finished nearly 20 years after her death. A vast, beautifully proportioned confection of white marble domes set in attractive, well-tended parkland, this is the most enduring of remains of the British Raj in India. The memorial is most photogenic at sunset across reflecting ponds from the northeastern side. The structure, which is now floodlit at night, is a fascinating site of sparkling white marble. It has been now converted in a museum that houses the most impressive collection of memorabilia's from the days of Raj.
Indian Museum: Built in 1874, this is the oldest museum in India, housing a rare collection of archeological artifacts. The museum fills a glorious colonnaded palace with aging glass-and-hardwood display cabinets that are almost attractions in themselves. The entrance to the museum houses an original Lion Capitol, the national symbol of India.
Eden Garden: Located in the northwest corner of the city, this is a small and pleasantly laid-out garden. The place also houses the renowned cricket ground by the same name.
Howrah Bridge: Kolkata's 700m-long architectural icon, is a vibrating abstraction of steel cantilevers, traffic fumes and sweat. Although over 60 years old it probably remains the world's busiest bridge catering to around 100,000 vehicles and innumerable pedestrians.
Kali Mandir: Kalighat's Kali Temple is Kolkata's holiest spot. The temple is dedicated to Kali, goddess of destruction. The current structure, painted silver-grey with rainbow highlights, dates from 1809. Of course the site is many, many centuries older and possibly the source of Kolkata's name.
Birla Planetarium: Loosely styled along the lines of Buddhist stupa at Sarnath, the Birla Planetarium is one of the worlds largest and looks impressive when floodlit. Its outer circle forms a small but well-presented, tomb-like gallery featuring astronomer busts and planetary pictures.
Belur Math: The headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math is situated in the north of the city. The place was founded in 1899 and houses a structure that was designed to be a church, temple, and mosque all in one. That's perfectly in keeping with the message of 19th century sage Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who preached the unity of all religions.
The Marble Palace: This palace is built of Italian marble, stands amidst a lawn which has sculptures of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, other Hindu gods, Lord Buddha and Christopher Columbus. The rooms have numerous statues, paintings and oriental vases. Chandeliers dangle from its ceilings. The lamps on the stair cases bear testimony to creativity.
Dakshineshwar Temple: The temple is dedicated to goddess Kali. The main attraction of the temple is that the Ganga (Hooghly River) flows beside the temple. The colossal kali temple is known to be one of the rare temples of Indian origin, having world renowned fame.
Unique Experience of Kolkata
Sunderbans - Land of the Royal Bengal Tiger: Enjoy a memorable boat cruise and a few days stay on the shimmering waters and behold Indian wilds from close in Sunderbans National Park amidst India’s largest mangrove forests. When in West Bengal for a holiday vacation, you just cannot miss the opportunity of the closest encounter possible with the royal cats and the vicious crocodiles.
Be a part of the Hustle and Bustle of Durga Puja: Plan a holiday in Kolkata in September-October and an unforgettable experience awaits you. A chance to be a part of the famous Durga Puja when the whole state reverberates with the aura of festivities. Visit to the decorated pandals (decorated structures of wood and cloth) and feast on a variety of Bengal delicacies for a memorable holiday.
Kolkata Book Fair: Kolkata Book Fair is the largest in Asia and provides ample opportunities to the bibliophiles to explore the fascinating world of books. The event is held every year in the month of January or February in Kolkata
Bengali Seafood of Kolkata: Kolkata has some exclusive beaches which are pristine stretches of sand, ideal for the solitude seeker, while others pulsate with crowds basking in the sunshine. Tantalize your tastebuds with a wide array of delicious Bengali seafood cuisine.
Sound & Light show at Victoria Memorial: In the evenings the white marble Victoria Memorial comes to life with a fascinating sound and light show. The background narration explains about the history of Kolkata in English.
Local Markets of Kolkata
New Market: This was earlier known as the Hogg Market. From toys and junk jewelries to your fashion wardrobe, you will find it all at this place suiting your budget.
Shyambazaar & the Hatibagan markets: The two oldest shopping areas of Kolkata where one can get things at a much reasonable rate. The Hawkers throng the street with variety of items. You can avail garments, shoes, belts, bags, fashion accessories, food joints and whatever needed, all over in this place.
Burrabazar Market: This oldest wholesale/retail market of Kolkata on Mahatma Gandhi Road is the place to shop for whole sale business of textiles, cereals, food grains, spices, dry fruits, edible oils, sugar, salt and other groceries. There are good numbers of renowned retail shops located in this market complex.
Gariahat Market: This buzzing marketplace is located on Rash Behari Avenue and Gariahat Road Crossing. Textiles, readymade garments, electronic gadgets, and almost every other thing can be found here. Besides the regular shops, are the makeshift shops that crowd the sidewalks.
Eating Out in Kolkata
Bengali: Kewpies (Reservations essential), Aaheli, 6 Ballygunge Place.
Multi Cuisine: Sourav's Food Pavilion, Charnock’s, Grain of Salt, Oasis, Marco Polo.
Chinese: China Valley, Mainland China, Waldorf Restaurant
Indian: Amber, Teej, Shiraj
Concept Dining: nbsp;Blue Potato (Prior reservation recommended)
Fast Food: Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's, McDonalds