Ultimate Kolkata Travel Mini Guide | Best Things to Do in Kolkata

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

Making_of_Durga_Idol_in_Kumartuli, 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.

Also Read: Visit Kumartuli―witness the Goddess come alive.
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.

Trams – Kolkata

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

Duration of visit: 1 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: Free
House of Mother Teresa – kolkata
The Mother House is headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity ‘s worldwide religious congregation. From 1953 till her death it was the home of Mother Teresa, and where her body was laid to rest. At her grave you can pay respects and visit a small museum showing some of her personal belongings. You should go upstairs to see her place too.

2. Victoria Memorial

Duration of visit: 1 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: ₹500
The Victoria Memorial is a marble building situated inside the Maidan, Kolkata’s largest urban park. It was constructed using marble from Makrana, the same highly valued marble used to create the Taj Mahal. It is a massive, beautiful building dedicated to Queen Victoria of England, also known as the Empress of India, a short walk from Park Street and a beautiful place to escape the chaos

3. Indian Museum

Duration of visit: 2 – 3 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: ₹500
skull at Indian Museum – Kolkata
The Indian Museum is the largest and oldest museum in India, located at the west end of Sudder Lane. It features a number of antique displays, ornaments, fossils, firearms, mummies, and paintings.

4. South Park Street Cemetery

Duration of visit: 30 mins – 1 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: ₹20
South Park Cemetery – Kolkata
It was in use until about 1830 and was opened in 1767, and is now a protected heritage site. Many of the nearly 1,900 tombs are wide and imposing, some belonging to the time’s well-known European military and political figures.

5. Belur Math

Duration of visit: 1 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: FREE
Belur Math
This magnificent building is built on the Hooghly River’s west side. It is the Ramakrishna Math and Mission temple headquarters, a religious and spiritual Hindu organisation. The temple is noted for combining the architectural elements of Christian, Islamic, Hindu and Buddhism to symbolise unity among religions.
Belur Math is some 7-8 kilometres north of Howrah Bridge. Just walk across Howrah Bridge after exploring Mallick Ghat Flower Market, and take a prepaid taxi from Howrah Railway Station to Belur Math. Visiting on your own is simple enough, but if you want to go on a guided tour then you can opt for a tour of the Kolkata temple.

6. Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Duration of visit: 2 – 3 Hr
Timings: 6. 30 AM
Entry Fee: FREE
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
The Dakshineswar Kali Temple is situated a little farther north across the river from Belur Math. It is a striking dedicated Hindu temple to Kali. At any time of day the temple is impressive, but I was here late in the afternoon when the temple looked even more majestic in the golden sunset light.
I took a short ferry ride from Belur Math up the river to Dakshineswar Kali Temple for about 15 years. Taking a local train back to downtown, after visiting the temple.

THINGS TO DO

1. Explore Mallick Ghat Flower Market

Duration of visit: 2 – 3 Hr
Timings: 
Entry Fee: FREE

This has to be one of Kolkata ‘s liveliest and most vibrant locations. Located below Howrah Bridge on the east side of the river is Mallick Ghat Flower Market, the largest flower market in India and one of the largest in Asia. It’s a constant exchange of colour with vendors and buyers haggling roses, lotuses, marigolds and sunflowers over bushels.
If you’re in street photography, then you’ll love that place.

2. Walk Across Howrah Bridge

Duration of visit: 30 Mins
Timings: as per your timming 😉
Entry Fee: FREE
Double Decker bus at Howrah Bridge
You can walk across Howrah Bridge to the other side of Hooghly River, after visiting the flower market. Howrah Bridge is a popular bridge of suspension that has become a landmark of Colkata and West Bengal.

3. Take a Day Trip to the Sundarbans

Duration of visit: Full Day
Timings: 
Entry Fee: starts from ₹2600
If you’re intrigued by nature and wildlife then you may be interested in this. The Sundarbans is a mangrove field in the Bay of Bengal, spanning west Bengal’s Hooghly River to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh. Hundreds of wildlife species live here, the most sought after being the endangered Bengal tiger.The Sundarbans are more than a hundred kilometres from Kolkata but can be explored on a day tour.

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.

hand pulled rickshaw kolkata

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.

Also Read: Rediscovering the heritage of Bishnupur, An Era of Malla kingdom

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.

DAY ONE

• Indian Museum
• Victoria Memorial
• Mother House
• South Park Street Cemetery

DAY TWO

• 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.

*Images used in this post are belongs to respective owner, we donot hold any copyright.

If you like this content, do support my works by subscribing and sharing your thoughts through comments. If you have any query do write me, till then keep sharing – keep travelling.

Post Author: subhadeep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *