Kolkata is a city beyond brick and mortar. Situated in the eastern part of India, it was originally known as “Calcutta”. There are numerous places to visit in Kolkata, a city with an enticing history. It is one of the major metropolitan cities of India. 24th of August is considered the birthday of Kolkata.
Job Charnock was an administrator of the English East India Company. In 1698 he bought three villages- Sutanuti, Kolkata and Gobindapur, from the local landlord Sabarna Chowdhury. They were joined to form Calcutta, the capital of British India (1772-1911). Kolkata, the capital of the State of West Bengal is driven by emotions and love for its rich heritage, art, culture, festivals, food and football. Let us quickly see the places to visit in Kolkata.
Historical Monuments & Buildings
Victoria Memorial was built between 1906 and 1921, in the memory of Queen Victoria. It is a majestic marble monument with a beautiful garden and a museum. Enjoy a ride on a horse carriage from the Victoria Memorial, around the green Maidan. Riding on the beautiful red road with horses grazing in the Race Course beside, takes one to the imperial era.
From the Red Road, we get a glimpse of Shaheed Minaar (1824), a 50m tall and slender tower. It stands on the green Brigade Ground, offering a bird’s eye view of the city. This monument is beautifully illuminated in the evening. A visit to Fort William (1696), is a must. It is now being used as the Eastern command headquarters for the Indian Army. It has its genesis in the British Raj. You must not miss Eden Gardens (1864), the oldest cricket stadium in India, driving on the Red Road.
St. Paul’s Cathedral (1847) is one of the unforgettable places to visit in Kolkata. It has an august Indo-gothic architecture. The huge trees around the area make the place magical. An afternoon spent at the cathedral complex is sure to be etched in the memory forever.
A drive/walk around the Dalhousie Square is a must for history buffs. The stoned pavements and the colonial buildings with Laal Dighi (Pool of water) at the centre are similar to those of London’s Trafalgar Square. St. John’s Church (1787), Kolkata’s First Parish Church, faces the Dalhousie square. It was modelled after London’s Gibb’s St.Martin’s; a Neo-Classical Structure, and a 174ft tall stone spire with a giant clock. It’s compound being an age-old cemetery, houses tombs and memorials of some eminent historic figures. The Calcutta Black Hole Monument, Lady Canning’s Memorial and the Mausoleum of Job Charnock, the founder of Calcutta, all are present here.
In this area, you can see the iconic GPO, Writers’ Building, Raj Bhavan, Metcalfe Hall and other imperial buildings standing tall. This is one of those places to visit in Kolkata which comprise of numerous historic monuments.
Mullik Ghat Flower Market, near the southeast end of Howrah Bridge, is Asia’s largest flower market. It is fascinatingly colourful. An early morning stroll around the place with a sip of a hot smacking chai is breathtaking. Watch the local wrestlers’ practise their art. A ferry ride across the river in the evening is an eventful experience. Sighting the majestically lit Howrah Bridge, the historic cantilever bridge, is blissful.
Mystic Views along the River Banks
Princep Ghat (1841) robs the heart with its Greek and Gothic architecture. It is present on the banks of the River Hooghly, a tributary of River Ganga. The panoramic view of River Hooghly on one side and the modern Vidyasagar Sethu on the other is a photographer’s dream. One can’t forget boating, taking a stroll by the river and munching street side delicacies.
Paradise for Book and Film Lovers
Kolkata entices the film and art lovers. Nandan, Rabindra Sadan, the Film and Cultural Centre and Academy of Fine Arts, the first Fine Art Society in India are important places to visit in Kolkata. Mohor Kunjo or Citizen’s Park, famous for the musical fountain, is just opposite to them.
Book lovers have a paradise amongst places to visit in Kolkata. College Street is Asia’s largest book market and the World’s 2nd largest market for 2nd handbooks. It is a mile long avenue dotted with book stores on both sides. The College Street houses the College Square and the Mahabodhi Society. India’s oldest University- University of Calcutta, and Asia’s oldest medical college- Calcutta Medical College are present along the street.
Delight for Nature Lovers
Nature lovers have loads of places to visit in Kolkata. They will definitely enjoy Rabindra Sarovar. It is a beautiful artificial lake spread across 192 acres amidst the posh urban south. Howrah’s Botanical Garden is India’s oldest and largest botanical garden. The Giant Banyan Tree is its star attraction. You must visit the Zoological Garden of Kolkata, Alipore. It is the oldest in the country. It houses around 1250 animals and is home to numerous migratory birds in the winter.
If you are a photography buff, do visit the Kumartuli (preferably pre-Durga Puja). You can see how the idols are being built and feel the romanticism. Durga Puja is a festival, pivotal to a Bengali’s life. The scale of this event is unimaginable. One needs to be in Kolkata to experience this.
Prominent Residences & Museums
Rabindranath Tagore was India’s first Nobel Laureate. He was born at Jorasanko Thakur Bari, to the eminent Thakur/Tagore family. Their contribution to Indian Renaissance is remarkable. This house is now a heritage museum and gallery. You can find many objects and pictures, literary work and paintings by Rabindranath Tagore and his family. A 10minutes’ walk will take you to the Marble Palace. It is a palatial marble building of the monarchs of the Imperial Era. Nakhoda Masjid is Kolkata’s principal mosque. Present at Zakariya Street, Chitpur, it is a majestic red limestone structure. Zakariya Street comes alive with gastronomic adventures on Iftari, Ramadan.
The Indian Museum is India’s oldest and the largest museum. It must be visited for its plethora of collectables of Buddhist and Mughal exhibits. The museum houses mummies and other Egyptian exhibits, fossils, skeletons and more. Its aura lies in its massive architecture.
The Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity deserves a visit. It is established by Mother Teresa. You can visit and pay homage to her noble philosophy of selfless sacrifice.
There are several temples which must be included in the list of places to visit in Kolkata. Birla Temple is a modern-day marble temple with pristine Rajasthani architecture. The Kalighat Temple, one of the 52 Shatipeeths, is extremely popular. The Dakshineswar Temple is a popular and beautiful temple. The legendary Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa lived most of his days in this temple. It is on the banks of the River Hooghly and has a massive compound.
Belur Math and Swamiji’s house are significant sites of interest. The Math is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, founded by Swami Vivekananda. He was Ramakrishna’s chief disciple. Swamiji’s house is now turned into a museum. They are prominent for their historical or religious significance and their remarkable architecture.
Enticing Shoppers & Food Lovers
Places to visit in Kolkata should not exclude shopping destinations like Dakshinapan and Gariahat. The Hogg market and the New market in Esplanade area are shoppers’ paradise.
Park Street, the heart of Kolkata, is adjacent to the Esplanade area. It is a shopper’s den and a delight for the food lovers. Well, food in Kolkata deserves exclusive discussion. The sweet dishes Rasogolla (sweet) and mishti doi (sweet curd) must be mentioned. Kati roll and Kolkata Biriyani should definitely be tried by non-vegetarians. There are numerous restaurants all along the street. Park Street’s illumination with lights, laughter and food is worth a visit on Christmas. A unique spot here is the South Park Street Cemetery with 1600 Indo-Gothic tombs.
The Nicco Park, Wet-o-World, Aquatica, Newtown’s Eco Park, Biswa Bangla Gate, Science City, Birla Planetarium and Birla Technical Museum are all places for amusement and science enthusiasts.
The list of places to visit in Kolkata is never-ending. You must not miss exploring a few of its interesting means of transport. The Kolkata trams, hand-pulled rickshaws and the yellow taxis are typical of the city. Kolkata has the first of India’s Metro Railways. Do experience the underground Metro rail.
Kolkata, ‘The city of joy’, has a chaotic sweetness to even her daily mundane. The friendly people and the warmth of the place instantly makes one belong here.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.