The city of joy, Kolkata, the erstwhile capital of West Bengal, with its amiable contrast, and home to around 14 million people, has an alluring old-world charm and has a tranquil peace which cannot be fathomed or experienced in the other metro cities of India.
The city, founded in the banks of river Ganga, Hooghly, informs you of the Raj-era, after all it stood witness to the coming of the East India Company and lived a life where it was the most important city in the British Empire after London and was also the capital of India till 1912.
Through the rambling of trams, the Victorian-era mansion-blocks and buildings, hand-pulled rickshaws, fractured pavements, honking of vehicles and horse-carriages, Kolkata has all of it and more for every travel enthusiast visiting the city.
I would like to welcome you to the City of Joy! One of the most loved city in India where everybody would love to visit once in their lifetime.
You can connect with the city by various means of transport– air, train, bus and even your own vehicle. And for commuting within the city you have a host of choice– from buses, metro rail, trams and taxi to charted vehicles.
Once you step into the city, the first thing you will notice is its ever welcoming crowd which will be ready to help and oblige. According to a report, Kolkata is the second highest populated city in India after Mumbai.
For many visitors and food lovers, the heart of the city is Park Street that allows you to satiate your taste buds with its innumerable restaurants and eat-outs, offering an ever expanding cuisine from authentic Tibetan, Mughalai (food from the Mughal era), Chinese and continental to Bengali and Rajasthani.
Few meters walk and you come to Maidan, an area made famous by various political party rallies. Here you will be treated to a day of great outing.
You can begin by basking in the atmosphere of the Victoria memorial, which is also one of the most preferred places to hang-out for couples.
If you feel you have had enough then take the horse-drawn carriage ride from outside the memorial, and feel majestic.
However, here you will be tested on your bargaining skills. The ride normally costs anything between 250-350 rupees, depending on the chosen duration. And if you like history you will find the Jawaharlal Nehru Museum very interesting with its artefacts and other ensembles from the by-gone era. The St. Cathedral Church and the Birla Planetarium, situated within 100 metres will definitely leave you mesmerised.
Your next destination could be Mohar Kunj where you can enjoy the Light & Sound show held every evening.
From here walk across the road and you will reach Rabindra Sadan premises that is considered the hub of cultural activities in Kolkata.
Begin from visiting the Academy of Fine Arts, which holds exhibitions throughout the year, you can also treat yourself to some theatre here, and if you are a movie buff then walk across to Nandan to catch on the latest release or visit the various halls like Sisir Manch, on the Sadan premises that hold performative art programmes.
You can also visit the Kolkata information centre situated here. And if you begin to get hungry you can indulge on some fast-food from the various options available at the premises.
You trip diary can also have a visit to the film studio at Tollygunge and later visit the Tollygunge Tram Depot which is just beside Mahanayak Uttam Kumar Metro station (commonly known as Tollygunge metro station). From here take a tram to Esplanade, you will remember the journey that will give you ample opportunity to frame various spots of the city of joy.
The fare of the journey will be around Rs.10. It’s a very slow mode of transport but you will fall in love especially when it touches Hastings. From here to the last stop, you can’t miss a single frame.
After reaching Esplanade, you may walk to the Princep Ghat. It will take around 20-25 minutes but you will find some beautiful and scenic places on the way like the Raj Bhawan, Eden Garden, Akashbani Bhawan, High Court, Babughat–all these places have a history of its own.
At Babughat, you will see the large number of devotees that throng the banks of river Ganga every day, besides the area houses an inter-state bus stop from where busses leave for Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand.
Once at Princep Ghat view the sun set, then hope on to a boat and take a ride of the Ganges, it sure will make you want more.
After you have taken the ride visit the New Market, also known as Hogg Market. Shopping becomes fun here. But here too, like in horse-drawn carriage ride you will need brush-up your bargaining skills.
Once done with your shopping, you can treat yourself to authentic Bengali desert at K C Das sweet shop and quench your thirst from the various juice shops adjoining the sweet shop.
This is, however, is not all that the city of joy has on offer, whether you are spiritually inclined or not, you can visit the temple of Goddess Kali at Kali Ghat, the Dakshineshwar Kali temple, which gave birth to the Ramakrishna movement and take a boat ride from here to Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission and Math.
Besides these, Kolkata earlier known as Calcutta, also gave the world various personalities like mother Teresa, noble laureate and one of the greatest Indian poets of his times, Rabindranath Tagore, his house at Jorashanko, also called as Jorashanko Thakur Bari (Hose of the lord) is a must visit place.
It would be rather impossible to club seeing everything in Kolkata in just a few days but having visited this place you will get to know a fair bit about a culture that nourished the British Empire and gave birth to various movements that churned the world.