Kolkata, also referred to as Calcutta, is an active and lively city situated in the eastern region of India, alongside the Hooghly River. It serves as the capital of West Bengal state and is well-known for its abundant history, customs, and literature. In the past, Kolkata was the capital of British India and played a vital role in India's fight for independence. Presently, it is a significant commercial, cultural, and educational hub, celebrated for its architecture, food, music, and art. The city's renowned Durga Puja festival is observed with immense enthusiasm and excitement each year. Kolkata is a blend of diverse cultures and religions, possessing a distinct character that has enticed travelers and tourists from all around the globe.
Places to Visit / tourist places
- Victoria Memorial : The Victoria Memorial is an iconic marble building in Kolkata that was constructed in honor of Queen Victoria. It is home to a museum that displays the city's art and history, and its architecture is breathtaking.
- Fort William : Fort William is a historical fortification in Kolkata that was constructed during the British rule. It currently functions as the headquarters of the Eastern Command of the Indian Army.
- Belur Math : Located along the Hooghly River, Belur Math is a serene temple and headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. Its tranquil surroundings and magnificent architecture are renowned.
- Howrah Bridge : One of Kolkata's most famous landmarks, the Howrah Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the city to Howrah. It is one of the busiest bridges globally and is considered an architectural marvel.
- Marble Palace Mansion : Constructed by a wealthy merchant in the 19th century, the Marble Palace Mansion is renowned for its neoclassical architecture and collection of art and antiques.
- Mother House : The Mother House is the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, a religious congregation established by Mother Teresa. It is revered globally and is a destination for devotees who come to pay their respects.
- St. Paul's Cathedral : A stunning Gothic-style cathedral constructed during the colonial era, St. Paul's Cathedral is known for its intricate stained-glass windows and beauty.
- Birla Mandir : Birla Mandir is a contemporary Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. Its peaceful surroundings and stunning architecture make it a popular place of worship.
- Jorasanko Thakur Bari : Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the former residence of the Tagore family, a distinguished family in Kolkata. Now a museum, it showcases the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore, a renowned writer and Nobel laureate poet.
- Rabindra Sarovar : Named after Rabindranath Tagore, Rabindra Sarovar is a picturesque lake in Kolkata surrounded by lush greenery. Picnics and sailing are common activities there.
- Kalighat Temple : The Kalighat Temple is a revered Hindu temple in Kolkata that is dedicated to the goddess Kali. It is visited by numerous devotees every day and is one of the most sacred places of worship in the city.
- Shobhabajar Rajbari : Shobhabajar Rajbari is a historic palace in Kolkata constructed during the colonial era. It is well-known for its architecture and collection of art and antiques.
- Calcutta Jain Temple : The Calcutta Jain Temple is a famous temple in Kolkata dedicated to Lord Mahavir, the founder of Jainism. Its exquisite architecture and peaceful environment make it a renowned religious site.
- Watching a cricket match at Eden Gardens can be a thrilling experience as it is a famous cricket stadium in Kolkata and is the home ground of Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
- The Kali Temple in Kolkata is a unique place to visit as it is dedicated to the popular Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, who is said to have donated a considerable sum of money to build the temple.
- The South Park Street Cemetery is a historical landmark in Kolkata, known for its Gothic architecture and serene surroundings. It was built in the 18th century and serves as the final resting place of many famous personalities from that era. Exploring the cemetery can be a great experience for history enthusiasts.
- Kumortuli is a pottery town in Kolkata, renowned for its clay idols and sculptures. Strolling through this town is a unique experience as one can witness the skilled craftsmen at work and admire their art.
- Tram rides in Kolkata offer a nostalgic experience as the city still has a functional tram system dating back to the 19th century. Riding the tram can be an excellent way to explore the city's old-world charm.
- Kolkata's China town offers a unique cultural experience as it is home to the city's Chinese community. It is famous for its Chinese food, temples, and festivals like Chinese New Year. Exploring this area can be a great way to experience the fusion of Chinese and Indian culture.
- Boat rides from Princep Ghat, a popular tourist spot in Kolkata situated on the banks of the Hooghly River, can offer breathtaking views of the river and the city's skyline. It can be a great way to relax and enjoy the scenic beauty of Kolkata.
Nightlife (Pubs, clubs, lounges)
- Phoenix, Kolkata: This rooftop bar situated in the heart of the city offers a breathtaking view of the skyline. It serves a variety of drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, and finger foods to munch on.
- Roxy – The Park, Kolkata: The Park Hotel's Roxy is a nightclub with a retro aesthetic that combines modern and vintage music. It is well known for its lively ambiance and wide variety of drinks.
- The Myx, Kolkata: The Myx is a popular nightclub in Kolkata that plays a blend of English and Bollywood music. It is famous for its themed parties and offers a range of drinks and cocktails.
- Nocturne, Kolkata: Nocturne is a well-liked nightclub with a large dance floor, DJ, and an impressive range of drinks. It is known for its techno and house music, making it an ideal destination for party-goers.
- Club Boudoir, Kolkata: Club Boudoir is a well-known nightclub with a vibrant atmosphere and an elegant setting. It provides a range of cocktails and drinks while playing a blend of commercial and house music.
- Tantra – The Park, Kolkata: Tantra is a popular nightclub located in The Park Hotel. It boasts a great dance floor, DJ, and an array of drinks. It is famous for its lively atmosphere and exceptional party experience.
Street food to try in Kolkata
- Puchka : A popular Kolkata street food also known as Golgappa or Pani Puri in other parts of India, made with small, crispy, hollow puris filled with mashed potatoes, tamarind water, chili, and spices.
- Churmur : A variation of Puchka where the puri is crushed and mixed with mashed potatoes, chickpeas, onions, and spices, then topped with tamarind water, chili, and coriander leaves.
- Ghugni Chaat : A popular Kolkata snack made with boiled yellow peas mixed with spices, onions, coriander leaves, and tamarind water.
- Jhalmuri : A famous Kolkata street food made with puffed rice mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes, coriander leaves, peanuts, and spices, offering a quick, spicy and tangy snack.
- Keemar Doi Bora : A delicious Kolkata snack made with deep-fried lentil balls stuffed with spiced minced meat and served with yogurt.
- Kathi Rolls : A popular Kolkata street food consisting of a paratha filled with spiced meat or vegetables, onions, chilies, and chutney, making it a filling and tasty snack.
- Shingara/Samosa : A Kolkata snack made with a crispy pastry shell that is filled with spiced potatoes, peas, and sometimes minced meat.
- Chhanar Jilipi : A sweet Kolkata dish made with chhana (cottage cheese) kneaded into a dough, shaped into a spiral, deep-fried, and soaked in sugar syrup.
- Aloo Kabli :A popular Kolkata street food made with boiled potatoes mixed with spices, onions, coriander leaves, and tamarind water.
- Telebhaja : A Kolkata snack made with deep-fried vegetables like eggplant, potato, onion, and chili coated with a spiced batter.
- Aloo Dom Luchi : A popular Kolkata breakfast dish consisting of deep-fried puffed bread (Luchi) served with spicy potato curry (Aloo Dom).
- Mughlai Parantha : A stuffed bread in Kolkata made with minced meat, egg, and spices, served with chutney and sometimes yogurt, making it a filling and flavorful breakfast or snack option.
- The Oberoi Grand Kolkata : This is a luxurious hotel in Kolkata that has a rich heritage and has been operational since 1887. It provides various facilities like a fitness center, spa, and many dining options.
- Taj Bengal : This is a five-star hotel in Kolkata that is renowned for its exquisite interiors and exceptional hospitality. The hotel boasts of a spa, outdoor pool, and a variety of dining options serving both local and global cuisines.
- JW Marriott Hotel Kolkata : This is a five-star hotel located in the central business district of Kolkata, offering lavish rooms, an outdoor pool, spa, and several dining options.
- The Westin Kolkata Rajarhat : Located in the Rajarhat area, this luxury hotel has modern rooms, a spa, an outdoor pool, and multiple dining options.
- ITC Royal Bengal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kolkata: This is a lavish hotel situated in the heart of Kolkata's commercial district. It has plush rooms, a spa, numerous dining options, and an outdoor pool.
- ITC Sonar Kolkata A Luxury Collection Hotel : This five-star hotel is situated in the Sonar Bangla area and boasts of luxurious rooms, a spa, an outdoor pool, and several dining options.
- The Gateway Hotel EM Bypass Kolkata : This four-star hotel is located on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and offers comfortable rooms, a spa, and multiple dining options.
- The Rajbari Bawali : This luxury heritage hotel is situated approximately 100 km from Kolkata and housed in a restored 300-year-old palace. It offers luxurious rooms, a spa, and multiple dining options.
- Holiday Inn Kolkata Airport : This four-star hotel is located near Kolkata's Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport and features comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, and multiple dining options.
- The Lalit Great Eastern : This luxury heritage hotel is located in the heart of Kolkata and has opulent rooms, a spa, several dining options, and an outdoor pool.
- Hyatt Regency Kolkata : This luxury hotel is located in Salt Lake City, Kolkata, and has modern rooms, a spa, multiple dining options, and an outdoor pool.
- Ibiza The Fern Resort & Spa : This luxury eco-resort is located on the outskirts of Kolkata and offers eco-friendly rooms, a spa, an outdoor pool, and multiple dining options.
- Flurys, Kolkata : Established in 1927, Flurys is a well-known bakery and tearoom in Kolkata, famous for its confectioneries, cakes, and pastries.
- Aminia, Kolkata : Aminia is a renowned restaurant chain in Kolkata, serving rich and flavorful Mughlai cuisine, including biryani and kebabs.
- 6 Ballygunge Place, Kolkata : This fine-dining restaurant in Kolkata specializes in Bengali cuisine and is located in a heritage building, offering an upscale dining experience.
- Peter Cat, Kolkata : Peter Cat is a famous restaurant in Kolkata that serves continental cuisine, and its signature dish is the Chelo Kebab, which is a combination of butter, grilled meat, and rice.
- Zeeshan, Kolkata : Zeeshan is a well-liked restaurant in Kolkata that serves Mughlai cuisine, offering delicious biryani, kebabs, and other meat dishes.
- Mocambo, Kolkata : This elegant fine-dining restaurant in Kolkata serves continental cuisine and is renowned for its old-world charm and exquisite decor.
- Rendezvous, Kolkata : Rendezvous is a popular restaurant in Kolkata, serving both Chinese and Indian cuisine, offering generous portions and affordable prices.
- The Corner Courtyard, Kolkata : The Corner Courtyard is a cozy cafe and restaurant in Kolkata, serving a variety of dishes such as sandwiches, burgers, and pasta in a laid-back atmosphere with charming decor.
- Oudh 1590, Kolkata : Oudh 1590 is a fine-dining restaurant in Kolkata that serves rich and aromatic Awadhi cuisine, which is renowned for its flavors, and is located in a heritage building.
- Jam House, Kolkata : Jam House is a lively restaurant in Kolkata that offers a wide range of dishes, including continental and Indian cuisine, and is well-known for its vibrant atmosphere and live music performances.
Malls to check out
- South City Mall, Kolkata : This mall is well-liked in Kolkata for its variety of stores and restaurants, including international and local brands. It also offers entertainment options such as a cinema, gaming zone, and other attractions.
- City Centre I, Kolkata : This is a big mall in Salt Lake City, Kolkata, that boasts over 200 stores and various entertainment options like a cinema and gaming arcade.
- City Centre II, Kolkata : Another popular mall in Kolkata situated in Rajarhat, it has more than 300 stores, a cinema, and various entertainment options.
- Quest Mall, Kolkata : This is an upscale mall in Kolkata that features high-end brands, gourmet dining options, a cinema, and other luxurious amenities.
- Acropolis Mall, Kolkata : A relatively new mall in Kolkata that includes a mix of local and international brands, a cinema, and other entertainment options.
- Mani Square Mall, Kolkata : A sizable mall in Kolkata with over 250 stores, it offers a cinema, a bowling alley, and other entertainment options.
- Avani Riverside Mall, Kolkata : A waterfront mall in Howrah, Kolkata, it features a mix of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a cinema and gaming zone.
- Lake Mall, Kolkata : A medium-sized mall in Kolkata that features a blend of local and international brands, a cinema, and other entertainment options.
- Forum Courtyard, Kolkata : A high-end mall in Kolkata that boasts luxury amenities such as fine dining restaurants and high-end brands.
- Gariahat Mall, Kolkata : A relatively small mall in Kolkata located in the busy Gariahat market area. It offers only a few stores and restaurants but is popular due to its location.
- Axis Mall, Kolkata : This mall in Rajarhat, Kolkata, is well-liked for its range of stores and restaurants, a cinema, and various entertainment options.
Best places to shop
- New Market Kolkata is a popular shopping destination in Kolkata that offers a range of shops selling affordable clothing, accessories, and household items.
- Gariahat Market is a bustling shopping district in Kolkata that features street shops, stalls, and small stores selling various products, from clothing and accessories to electronics and household items.
- College Street is a famous market in Kolkata that is renowned for its bookstores and shops selling academic textbooks, stationery, and other educational materials.
- Hatibagan Market is a vibrant shopping district located in North Kolkata that boasts a variety of shops selling clothing, jewelry, and other goods.
- Burrabazar Market is one of the oldest and busiest markets in Kolkata, known for its wholesale shops selling an extensive range of goods, including textiles, electronics, and household items.
The famous shops in Kolkata include Oxford Bookstore, Dakshinapan Shopping Center, Karma Kettle, Mahabodhi Tea Company, Nobin Chandra Das & Sons in Shobhabazar, Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick Sweets, Biswa Bangla Store on Park Street, Westside - Pataka House, Pantaloons in South City Mall, Mochi Shoes, and Spencer's at Quest Mall. Each of these shops provides a unique shopping experience and offers a diverse range of products, from books and tea to clothing, shoes, and sweets.
Museums in Kolkata
- Mother's Wax Museum in Kolkata is a museum that showcases wax replicas of famous personalities from diverse fields like politics, sports, and entertainment.
- The Tram Museum in Kolkata is a museum that displays the evolution and history of trams in Kolkata. It exhibits various types of trams like horse-drawn trams, steam-powered trams, and electric trams.
- Indian Museum in Kolkata, established in 1814, is the oldest and the most extensive museum in India. It holds an extensive collection of antiques, artifacts, and art pieces from different parts of India.
- Birla Industrial and Technological Museum in Kolkata is a museum that highlights the history and advancement of science and technology in India through interactive exhibits, demonstrations, and models.
- Netaji Bhawan in Kolkata is a museum dedicated to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose's life and his contribution to India's freedom movement.
- Science City is a large science museum and amusement park in Kolkata that offers hands-on exhibits, planetarium shows, and science and technology-themed rides and attractions.
Art Galleries in Kolkata
- Genesis Art Gallery : This gallery is renowned for exhibiting the works of upcoming artists in the contemporary Indian art scene.
- Galerie 88 : Established in 1989, this gallery is an eclectic platform that showcases various art forms, ranging from paintings to sculptures, installations, and videos.
- Experimenter Art Gallery : This contemporary art gallery is widely known for its unconventional exhibitions, featuring experimental and innovative art pieces.
- Masters Collection Art Gallery : Specializing in modern and contemporary Indian art, this gallery mainly focuses on renowned and established artists.
- Verandah Art Gallery : Featuring a diverse collection of art forms, this gallery showcases the works of emerging as well as established artists, including paintings, sculptures, and installations.
Events / Festivals
- Dover Lane Music Festival : This yearly event is a celebration of Indian classical music and features performances by top classical musicians from India and around the world.
- Calcutta Book Fair : Considered as one of the world's largest book fairs, this event attracts publishers and book lovers from all over India and abroad.
- Kolkata International Cinema Festival : This festival brings together an extensive range of international films of diverse genres and countries.
- National Theatre Festival : This annual festival provides a platform for some of the best theatre groups from India and abroad to showcase their performances.
- International History & Heritage Exhibition : This exhibition is a celebration of India's rich cultural heritage and features paintings, artifacts, and installations from various parts of the country.
Gardens and parks
- Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden : This botanical garden, also called Shibpur Botanical Garden, is renowned for its extensive collection of plant species and is one of the largest gardens in India. It occupies an area of 270 acres and is famous for its ancient banyan tree, which is more than 250 years old.
- Eco Tourism Park, Kolkata : Situated in Rajarhat, this recently added park covers an area of 480 acres and boasts several attractions, such as a man-made lake, a butterfly garden, and a musical fountain.
- Central Park, Kolkata : Located in Salt Lake, this park is a popular spot for jogging, walking, and cycling. It encompasses a sizable lake, a variety of fountains, and various sculptures.
- Millennium Park : Offering breathtaking views of the Hooghly River and Howrah Bridge, this park is located on the riverbank. It features a landscaped garden, a floating restaurant, and a children's play area.
- Mohor Kunja : This park, located in the heart of Kolkata, is distinguished for its tranquil environment and verdant greenery. It showcases a sizable lake, a musical fountain, and several sculptures.
- Eden Gardens Park : Adjacent to the renowned Eden Gardens cricket stadium, this park is a favored destination for cricket enthusiasts. It exhibits numerous sculptures of celebrated cricketers and provides a jogging track.
- Curzon Park : Named after Lord Curzon, who served as the Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, this park is situated in the Ballygunge area. It features a large lake, numerous walking trails, and a play area for children.
Best time to visit
The recommended time to visit Kolkata is between November and February, which is during the winter season. The weather during this period is delightful, with moderate temperatures ranging between 12°C to 26°C, providing an ideal climate for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Furthermore, the humidity levels are low, and the likelihood of rainfall during this time is minimal.
On the other hand, the summer months between March and May are hot and humid, with temperatures soaring up to 40°C. The monsoon season, which occurs between June and September, brings heavy rainfall, which may disrupt your travel plans.
Therefore, it is recommended to visit Kolkata during the winter season to make the most of your trip, as it offers a comfortable climate for activities and sightseeing.
How to reach
- Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata provides good connectivity with major cities in India and internationally. Numerous airlines operate flights to Kolkata, offering both direct and connecting flights based on your location.
- Kolkata has two primary railway stations, Howrah and Sealdah, which are linked to most cities in India. You can check train availability and book tickets online through the Indian Railways website or other travel portals.
- Kolkata is well-connected to major cities in West Bengal and neighboring states through an extensive network of roads, making it easy to travel by bus. You can either take a bus from nearby cities or book a long-distance bus online or through a travel agent.
- You can also reach Kolkata by car or taxi. National Highways 2, 6, and 12 connect Kolkata to major cities in India, providing easy access by road.