Kolkata Travel Guide

by : Vinay Choubey



A city just about ready to burst at the seams, Calcutta is home to more than 10 million people. The Ganga (called the Hooghly in Calcutta) is still the inspiration, as it was to Job Charnok, East India Company agent, who reached the shores in August 1690, to found the city. Calcutta, after London, was the British Empire’s second city.

Places of Interest in Kolkata

• Birla Planetarium: Only the second of its kind in the commonwealth and similar to that in London. Regular astronomical shows are presented here with commentaries in different languages. Shows are held on all days excluding Mondays.

• Dakshineswar Kali Temple Belur Math : Built in 1847, on the banks of the Hooghly, north of Calcutta, the temple is associated with Shri Ramakrishna, the eclectic 19th century saint who revived Hinduism during the British Raj. Across the river stands Belur Math, headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission. The Monastery is a haven of peace and religious harmony.

• Marble Palace : Situated in an artistically laid-out garden, the place is full of rare collection of antiques of immense artistic and historical value. Wonderful curios, china and a couple of paintings by Rubens are only a few to mention of the spectrum of attractions of the palace. The Marble Palace is situated on Muktaram Babu Street, off Chittaranjan Avenue. Open on all days except Mondays and Thursdays.

Kolkata Fairs & Festivals: Durga Puja, the most important and the most popular of all Bengali festivals is the Durga puja. It is celebrated throughout the state, but with great grandeur in Calcutta. There are some ancestral houses in Calcutta where Durga puja is being observed over decades and even over centuries.

Kolkata People & LifestyleCalcutta is the home of the Bengalis - volatile in politics, sports lover, intellectual, romantic with a unique sensibility. To whom every activity is a commitment of passionate intensity - be it a religious festival, soccer matches, political demonstrations, music, art, poetry reading, eating or adda (chat sessions).

Calcutta breeds culture:Rabindranath Tagore gave Bengal new composite music, dance drama and literature. Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar internationalized Indian Classical music. Jamini Roy revived folk painting. Uday Shankar created a new dance form. Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) introduced a new genre of performing arts. Ustad Allauddin Khan created a new orchestra and famous film maker Satyajit Ray’s home and canvas was Calcutta.

Kolkata Cuisine: The Bengali fondness for good food is legendary. Exotic Bengali cuisine is available at selected restaurants like Suruchi and Aheli (Peerless Inn). To experience the true taste of traditional cooking, it is best to befriend a Bengali. His hospitality will definitely include a meal!

Excursions in Kolkata: Botanical Gardens, located 8 kms from Calcutta on the west bank of Ganga are the famous Botanical Gardens. The highlight of the Gardens is the 200 year old banyan tree, said to be the largest in the world. The tree is 26 meters high with a circumference of approximately 900 feet.

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