Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), West Bengal ‘s capital and India’s second largest city, Situated on the east bank of the Hooghly River, served as British India’s capital from 1772 to 1911. Which have magnificent colonial architecture — and to this day most are fully functional and well-maintained. Though in 1911 the capital was transferred to Delhi, Kolkata is clearly imbued with history.
Kolkata was once a vibrant city that suffered after India’s independence in 1947 through decades of economic decline, It has been called a “dying city” because of its rapid population growth and economic woes.
KOLKATA AT A GLANCE
Art and Culture
The city is named India’s cultural capital, owing to the high standards of educational and academic pursuits in Kolkata. The revered poet and philosopher, and India’s (as well as Asia’s) first Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, and Oscar-winning film director Satyajit Ray both come from this region. Kolkata remains India’s centre of culture , arts, and theatre.
Durga Puja in Kolkata
A festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. One of the most awaited festivals for Bengals, breaking religious boundaries and taking on a secular flavour. The festival has a five day duration during which the entire city is covered with lights, and marquees are erected to install the Durga idol in various parks and neighborhoods.
Tram in Kolkata
Kolkata is India’s only city that owns tramcars. It began in 1902, and is still a popular mode of transportation among locals. A leisurely ride in the tramway car, meandering through the busy city, is sheer romance in today’s fast paced lives.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Between October and March the best time to visit Kolkata. Temperatures are cooler, and clear skies.
OCT-MAR: The best time to visit Kolkata as advised. If you like festivals then it’s a great time to go around October. Around October or November the Hindu festivals Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja are held every year.
APR-MAY: Those are Kolkata’s hottest months and probably not the best time to go.
JUN-SEPT: This is Kolkata monsoon season, and maybe the least favorable time to go. It renders sightseeing uncomfortable and difficult.
TRAVELING TO KOLKATA
Kolkata is located on the eastern tip of India, in western Bengal.
BY AIR: People will arrive at Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport when they fly in to Kolkata. Just before you exit the terminal you can find an Uber booth.
BY TRAIN: India has a wide rail network that can take you almost wherever you need to go. Experienced travellers consider it the best way to get around this vast country and to experience it.
BY BUS: Often the proximity of the stations makes buses more convenient, but they are still less pleasant than the trains. Tickets can be purchased online generally by bus.
BEST AREA TO STAY
Find the “best place to stay in kolkata” quest and many would suggest Park Street or Sudder Lane. These are general “tourist zones” with plenty of hotels, shops and restaurants in Kolkata, as well as convenient access to the Kolkata Metro.
You can find a hotel on Booking.com or Agoda, in the Park Street district.
PLACES TO VISIT
1. Mother House
2. Victoria Memorial
3. Indian Museum
4. South Park Street Cemetery
5. Belur Math
6. Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Also Read: Bishnupur- A Land Of Terracotta Temples
THINGS TO DO
1. Explore Mallick Ghat Flower Market
2. Walk Across Howrah Bridge
3. Take a Day Trip to the Sundarbans
HOW TO GET AROUND
I find it kind of difficult to get around Kolkata. Not because there were not enough transport options, but because it still needed some amount of haggling to get from point A to point B. Kokata has a cheap metro system but it is still not as wide. Anyway, here are a couple of ways to get around Kolkata.
BY RICKSHAW: Kolkata is one of India’s few remaining towns that still have these hand-pulled rickshaws. According to my guide, they are mainly farmers who come to the town during the offseason to do this line of work. They willingly do it because it’s not a form of forced labour. With that said, it is more of a curiosity than anything else, and perhaps suitable only for short distances.
BY TRAM: The Kolkata tram is the oldest electric tram system operating in Asia. My guide told me it is a deficit business and is kept alive for its heritage worth only. Although I’m not sure how practical it is as a means of transport, it may be fun for tourists
BY KOLKATA METRO: This is always my chosen mode of transportation but the Kolkata Metro is unfortunately not as mature yet. At the moment it has just one line of service that takes you from north to south. Not sure when they will be in service but other lines and stations are in the works. Trains are crowded but clean and simple, starting at just INR 5 for every journey.
BY TAXI / TUK-TUK: These famous, yellow Ambassador taxis were one of my favourite photo subjects in Kolkata. They can only be found in Kolkata, to my knowledge. However charming as they are, I found them frustrating because none of the taxi drivers I met were able to use the metre. You need to negotiate a fare and I’ve always been quoted at a much higher price than it should have been. The tuk-tuks are the same way so after a while I gave up on them. The only time I would have been happy hopping in a Kolkata cabin is if it were booked through one of those prepaid taxi stands. That I did to get to Belur Math from Howrah Railway Station.
you could also try online service like ola / uber
I highly recommend using the Google Maps app (iOS), no matter which mode of transport you select. Using the public transit system of any area, it will tell you all possible ways you can get from point A to point B. I use it to navigate on and find it really reliable on any journey.
HOW DAYS TO STAY / ITINERARY SAMPLE
If you’re just trying to see the top sights, then two full days should be enough. Here’s a simple 2D/3N itinerary from Kolkata to help you plan your journey.
• Indian Museum
• Victoria Memorial
• Mother House
• South Park Street Cemetery
• Mallick Ghat Flower Market
• Howrah Bridge
• Belur Math
• Dakshineswar Kali Temple
BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES
It is the least expensive town I’ve been to in India. If you are staying in Kolkata for 2 full days and sharing cheap accommodation with another person, then a daily budget of approximately ₹800 – ₹1,000 per person should be adequate. This takes into consideration your rented housing , transportation, attraction fees, meals, snacks, and pocket WiFi.
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