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Tourist Places To Visit In Kolkata
Perfectly reflecting the majestic aura of the Mughals from the late 17th century, Calcutta or Kolkata is one of the major metropolitan cities in India. Existing today as one of the major business centres in South East Asia, Kolkata draws its roots from the East India Company. The Port of Kolkata used to be known as one of the busiest trading bases. As of today, it houses an ethnic population which is a part of rich and diverse culture. The city is filled with charming places, old and new for explorers out to visit them. Here are the top tourist places that you must visit in Kolkata.
Eden Gardens is the largest cricket stadium in India, and the second largest in the world. Also acknowledged as one of the most iconic cricket stadiums in India, Eden Gardens will give you a chance to experience the unhindered frenzy of Indian cricket fanatics. Nestled in the park region of Maidan, this stadium is a neighbour to other sport venues, like the Kolkata Race Course and the architectural marvel, Victoria Memorial. Witness a live match and go cricket crazy at this frenetic and full-of-life stadium.
Enter the rustic streets of Chinatown that house an ethnic Chinese population, settled in Kolkata during the early years. The authentic Chinese cuisine and the recently developed Indian-Chinese food will make you forget traditional Indian flavours. You can even bargain on the fast food stalls or have a quick brunch in a make-shift local Chinese restaurant. If you are visiting at the right time, the charm and magic of the Annual Chinese New Year can be stupefying. It will familiarize you with the lifestyle of the Chinese immigrants living in one of the major metros, as Indians.
A less modern aspect to the Kolkata skyline, this western city is a twin to Kolkata. You can enjoy your journey to Howrah by taking a ferry from the banks of the mighty river Hooghly, which gives you a majestic view of the famous Howrah Bridge. To lose yourself into the many guises of this cultural hub, you can choose to taste the local favourite chicken/mutton rolls. You can also try the world famous Moghlai Mutton Biryani in one of the top notch restaurants in the city.
Visit the Step Into Shobhabazar area of Kolkata during the months of Durga Pooja celebrations to witness this world famous phenomenon. The streets bustle and gleam with religious ardour and colourful podiums called pandals, which are designed with innovative and snazzy patterns. Step into the grand entrance of the Shobhabazar Rajbari that hosts the biggest Durga Pooja celebration in the whole of West Bengal. Tasting the Kolkata specials like Mishti doi and Roshogolla is a must, whether you travel there during the festive season or not.
The Victoria Memorial is a stunning monument in Kolkata, dating back to 1901, when Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India had it commissioned to honour the late Queen Victoria of England. The architecture of this building is beyond brilliant, in a style that is U. S. Capitol cross bred with Taj Mahal. There is all portions of Indian and Western. Inside the building you will find a chamber dedicated to Calcutta Gallery and colonial era artefacts, along with exhibition centres. The outside is just as beautiful with gardens and ponds. If you happen to be around in winter time then do stop by for the evening light-and-sound show at the east-gate of the memorial, with tickets availed after 5 in the evening.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Dakshineswar literally translates to 'the lord of the south.' This temple, among other gods and goddesses, is dedicated to Kali, one of the holy feminine trinity of Hinduism : Laxmi-Saraswati-Kali. This goddess is black of body and hence is called 'Kali,' a fierce warrior-natured woman who is ready to destroy evil with all her might. In this temple, Kali is worshipped as 'Bhavatarini' or the one who liberates the world from their woeful existence.
Situated beside the Hoogly river, Dakshineswar Kali Temple has 12 smaller temples inside its main house. Each temple is home to a god, goddess or demigod; from Radha-Krishna to Shiva. Other chambers include the residence of Rama Krishna Paramhansa, a bathing ghat, Rani Rashmoni's shrine and more.
The Indian Museum
The Indian Museum, also known as the Imperial Museum, is the oldest museum in the country; housing a collection of displays including mummies, fossils, skeletons, armour and ornaments and royal Mughal paintings going all the way back to the 17th Century.
It was founded back in 1814 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal and became a multipurpose museum, leading to the opening of many museums across the country as well as all of Asia Pacific. Do visit this museum that is the father of all other museums, when in Kolkata.
Park Street in Kolkata is a brilliant mix of the colonial as well as the contemporary, a street of old school cafes and clubs and modern day shopping malls and high street brands. The street is now renamed Mother Teresa Sarani but the 'Park Street' name has stuck. You will find here a lot many things, from restaurants to clubs, old mansions to jazz bars. This place has been a bustling hub of the coveted 'Calcutta nightlife' since the swinging 60s, when British army officers, merchants, high society ladies and Indian business crowd would mingle and party.
Today, with bars like Moulin Rouge, Mocambo and Blue Fox still alive, you will feel just as much a part of this world as of that written by eminent authors like Sharad Babu and Rabindranath Tagore. Enjoy the cabaret shows, walk down the streets at night, visit during the magical time of Christmas, Diwali or Durga Puja and be mesmerised. The Park Street never disappoints.
Fort William is located on the East Bank of Hooghly, dating back to 1696 and named after an English monarch. It is huge, magnificent and overlooks rolling green lawns. The stone structure is rich in its architecture and took more than a decade to be built. From being a bastion for prisoners to home to Indian army personnel after independence, Fort William has lived a long, eventful journey through time. The Eastern Command and Indian Intelligence still have a seat here, hence you cannot access some chambers. But others are open!
The official headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission Math, Belur Math is a sprawling property of 40 acres on the western bank of river Hooghly. A famous landmark in Kolkata, Belur Math is visited by people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world. There is a temple here, which is built by borrowing architectural styles of Hindu, Islamic as well as Christian shrines, as directed by the founder Swami Vivekananda. You can also visit the museum inside the complex, followed by the evening aarti and hymns.
Marble Palace Mansion
Located in north Kolkata near Chorbagan, the Marble Palace Mansion is another great tourist spot to visit when in the city. It was constructed by Rajendra Mallick back in early 1800s and houses some of the most beautiful art pieces by international artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Reynolds etc. After you are done exploring this gallery, there is also a zoo in the compound where you can enjoy a walk through and spot rare fauna.
Asia’s largest planetarium, the Birla Planetarium is located on Chowringhee Road. It is also locally famous as Taramandal, and you can check out its illustrated list of itinerary of shows, programs and special viewings from time to time. Aside from those, you get to see the large collection of astronomical instruments, models and galleries on a daily basis. There are old paintings of stars and constellations, video shows in English, Hindi and Bengali as well as science fairs. Do visit for a chill afternoon.
St. Paul's Cathedral
An Anglican Cathedral, St. Paul’s is beauty personified. With its rich history and impressive architecture, this church is a colossal interest of tourists as well as locals. During Christmas especially, the lights and decoration of this cathedral are a must see. This was the first Episcopalian church of Asia back in the day and its Gothic style mixed with Indian way put it up as a symbol of harmony of cultures.
Mother House is a Latin Church in Kolkata, established by Mother Teresa herself to hold religious congregations. The members of this missionary, nuns, fathers and commoners — all provide service to the sick, poor and needy free of cost. Soup kitchens and street schools are also run in its premises. You can visit these chambers and also take a walk through the area where Mother Teresa's Tomb is housed. A small museum nearby chronicles her life’s work.
Jorasanko Thakur Bari
This is also known as the House of the Thakurs, as the Tagores were addressed back in the day. It is the ancestral house of the Tagore family located in northern part of Kolkata. Rabindranath Tagore was born here, became a poet and a writer here. Today this house is a collection of artefacts, manuscripts, paintings and memorabilia from his life — from his books to antiques, from his self-composed marriage invitation to antiques. Tagore was the first non-European to be awarded Nobel prize, and this place repeats that lore with pride.
Prinsep Ghat is a majestic monument on Hooghly River with gothic structures and Greek artwork inlays. Architecture students and history enthusiasts are drawn to this place, yes, but even the locals can’t stay away and throng here for evening walks and sit-downs. The gorgeous views of sunset over Howrah Bridge add another charm to Princep Ghat visit. In colonial times it was a jetty but today this ghat is more recreational, what with photographs, food carts and souvenir vendors.
Locally also called Calcutta Zoo, the Alipore Zoo is another coveted tourist haunt in the city. Usually for families and kids, but also for adults who enjoy varied animal species, the Alipore Zoo is perfect for winter noons. The unique element here is the Aldabra giant tortoise, also called Adwaita, who died here after a long life of 250 years.
This 273 acre garden on the bank of Ganga is known for its extensively planted varieties of plants and flowers. A whooping 12000 kinds of species are found in this Botanical garden, brought down from different corners of the world and maintained with tender love and care. The peace and beauty of scenic charm of this place is unrivalled.
Kolkata’s National Library is like any other library of the world — heavenly, fragranced with papers and glue of old books, and free to enter! Its impressive collection of ancient manuscripts by lost authors, out of print copies, treasured essays and rare to find books makes it a magnet for nerds. There is a hoard of Indian authors here, even those that you may not find anywhere, even those whose names you have not heard — but exceptional just the same. So if you are into reading then do check the National Library out. It is located in Alipore, on Belvedere Road.