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Things To Do In Kolkata
A city with a glorious history, exciting past and rich cultural heritage, Kolkata is an interesting tourist destination. There is a right balance of modernity and traditionalism. Modern-day pubs and discos co-exist with old coffee houses, magnificent colonial buildings, narrow by lanes of old Kolkata. There are two different worlds coexisting peacefully in the same city and it is a joy to witness this dichotomy. Despite being a city surrounded by bricks and mortar, Kolkata has a life and there is so much to do for anyone new in the city. Let us look at things people can indulge in while in the City of Joy.
Go Pandal Hopping During Durga Puja
Durga Puja is a five day extravaganza that completely engulfs the city. There is euphoria, excitement in the air and that is contagious. The city gets a makeover. There are lights everywhere and music in the air. People step out in their best attire to take part in the biggest festival of the city. There are pandals built everywhere where Mother Goddess resides for five days with her children. She is worshipped amidst much pomp and show and endless love showered on her before she heads back to her heavenly abode. The favorite past time during these five days is to visit one pandal after another across the length and breadth of the city. Some just enjoy sitting back and catching up old friends while others try to make the most of the festival and eat to their heart’s content. It is the best thing to do in the city.
Visiting Indian Museum and Victoria Memorial
Museum lovers must take out time to pay a visit to Indian Museum, which is India’s largest and oldest museum. It houses some rare and ancient artifacts, armors, paintings and ornaments. It is a huge palatial building and is worth a trip. The next destination could be Victoria Memorial. It is one of Calcutta’s iconic structures and is quite a stunner. It was built during the British period between 1906 and 1921 and was dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. It also houses a museum with some beautiful and rare paintings.
Enjoying a Breezy Evening on the Banks of River Hoogly
A trip to Kolkata remains incomplete without spending an evening taking a stroll down the banks of River Hoogly. There is a ‘ghat’ or quayside called Princep Ghat which was built in 1841 during British Raj. It boasts of a Palladian porch which has beautiful architecture.
Visiting Mother Teresa’s House
Mother Teresa needs no introduction. She was the founder of Missionaries of Charity who dedicated their lives to the service of the downtrodden and less privileged people. The house where Mother lived during her lifetime is in Kolkata which has now become a place of pilgrimage. She was buried here and has people paying homage to her tomb. It is a beautiful place if you are looking for some peace from the chaotic world.
Visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and Birla Planetarium
St. Paul’s cathedral is one of the largest and most beautiful cathedrals of Kolkata. It flaunts a stunning classical European architectural style. You leave the rowdy noisy world behind and the moment you cross the threshold of church there is only peacefulness that engulfs you.
Located adjacent to the cathedral is Birla Planetarium. It is an observatory that conducts daily astronomy shows in different languages. It is a great place to take the kids who are enthralled by the visual experiences of a universe.
Exploring Marble Palace
This is not a very prominent tourist destination because of its location and also failure on the part of the government to project it before the tourists. It is a 19th century neoclassical mansion located in the lanes of North Kolkata. It is impossible to anticipate that a small narrow lane can lead to this amazing architectural splendor that houses some rare and priceless sculptures, artifacts, paintings and statues. This marble mansion was built by raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835. He was a wealthy Bengal merchant who had a penchant for collecting rare works of art. One section of the house continues to be inhabited by his descendants while the frontal part is now thrown open for public viewing. Drop in any time and you will be left stunned by the collection.
Taking a Tram Ride
When in Kolkata it would be a bad miss if tourists did not take a tram ride down the busy roads of Kolkata. It is one of the few cities where trams still exist. They continue to ply on routes primarily in Northern Kolkata and it is a great way to savor the flavor of old Kolkata. It is a fun and nostalgic ride indeed.
Taking a Ferry Ride on River Hoogly
River Hoogly certainly defines the city of Kolkata. Taking a boat or ferry ride down the river will give you an opportunity to see different aspects of Kolkata. From the boat you can catch a glimpse of the iconic Howrah Bridge that continues to dominate the city’s skyline. You can also see the second Hoogly Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu which was constructed during the 1990s. It is beautiful. You will pass the different ghats or quaysides, some of which were used for bathing while others for ceremonial purposes. It is a charming sight of the dear old city.
Going on a Spiritual Trip
For the more spiritually inclined and for the less ones too, a trip to Kalighat Temple in South Kolkata, Dakshineshwar Temple and Belur Math is a must. These are the sacred places of Kolkata with rich history. There are temples all over India but every city has a different cultural and religious fervor, which is interesting to observe. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple was built by Rani Rashmoni where Sri Ramkirshna Paramhans was the head priest. Belur Math grew up under the supervision of Swami Vivekananda for the disciples of Sri Ramkrishna.
Tasting Kolkata Cuisine
You will not come across another community who are so eternally in love with their food. Bengali cuisine boasts of lip-smacking vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes that are unparalleled in flavor. There are some landmark eateries where you must drop in get a taste of some of these dishes that are as iconic as Howrah Bridge and River Hoogly. Bengalis swear by Kosha Mangsho (flavorful mutton dish cooked in aromatic species) and try it out at Golbari in Shyambazar, North Kolkata. No luxurious dining place but food is amazing. For Biryani you can choose between Shiraz and Arsalan. If you want to try out some delicious fish dishes you can visit Oh! Calcutta. For sweets you will be spoilt for choice. Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Dey, Balaram Mullick, Nokur, Sen Mohashohy are some of the best places to get a taste of Bengali sweets. Not to forget the mouth-watering ‘Phuchka’ from roadside sellers. Visit the 115 year old Jewish bakery, Nahoum’s in Kolkata for the traditionally baked cakes and pastries.
Shopping in Kolkata
Kolkata will not disappoint you when it comes to shopping. There are several iconic and famous marketplaces in Kolkata that continue to draw large number of people in this age of malls. You will find people who will go through a mall and then say with pride, “I will find better stuff at affordable prices in New Market or Gariahat.” These are huge market places with hundreds of shops selling everything you need from garments to utensils, jewelries and flowers. There are shops on the roads as well where you can really bargain. New Market was built during the British era and boasts of a beautiful building which houses numerous shops. New Market and Hatibagan market in North Kolkata and Gariahat in South Kolkata are the places to be for shopping. It is always festivity time here. Shopping itself becomes a memorable experience.