Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the West Bengal State of India. It was India’s capital under the British from 1773-1911. Kolkata is famous for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries, and cultural festivals. It is one of my favorite major cities due to its variety of street food, historical attractions, incredible religious temples, mosques, and shopping.
Getting to Kolkata
I have made several trips to India, and Kolkata was one of my entry points to the vast country. You are traveling by road from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and by air flight. The Airport is much more organized and well-managed than many other airports in India. After you arrive and get your bag, you can find currency exchange booths inside, or you can go out to the arrival hall and find ATMs.
From Netaji Subash Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU)
The easiest way to get to Kolkata city center, Esplanade, or to the famous Sudder Street is by taking a pre-paid yellow taxi. You will find the taxi stand outside across the street from the arrival hall. Before getting out, don’t forget to pay upfront and get a taxi voucher from the booth inside. Then head outside to the taxi stand. Otherwise, you have to return and get one, as the taxi won’t take you without it. During my last trip, I paid only 310 Rupees (INR) to my hotel in Sudder Street.
From Howrah Railroad Station
I have traveled in and out of Howrah Railway station to destinations like Delhi, Hyderabad, Siliguri, and others. The station is just another side of the famous Hooghly river, not far from Sudder street. A taxi ride will cost you about 70 rupees. You may find yourself lost once inside the station, so I recommend arriving there way before your departure time. Locals are helpful and happy to assist you, so no worries. `
You must experience the Historical Ambassador Yellow in Kolkata; they are everywhere and affordable. All you need to do is flag down one, negotiate the price and hop in. They have meters, but I did not see anyone willing to use them. By the way, I did not care much as it was really affordable; as long as you know the ballpark of the fair price, then negotiate, you can’t lose much.
A small three-wheeler is the same as Tuk tuk. It can be found in most of the areas of Kolkata. All you need to do is negotiate a fair price before the ride; in some cases, it’s the only hard part for me, especially when I don’t even know the price.
Kolkata is one of the major cities in the world that still has traditional rickshaws pulled by humans. Many of these rickshaws are around the New Market and Sudder Street targeting tourists; It’s good to have a short ride just for the heck of it and for a lifetime experience.
In terms of cost, I think it is one of the cheapest metros in the world. I did not use it much, but it is still one of the locals’ most popular modes of transportation. It’s clean despite the huge crowd using this during the work days.
I rented a private taxi from the hotel travel desk, which cost me 1500 Rupees for 8 hours. Considering the places I was visiting around the city for the day was definitely a good deal.
Guided Tour – A few tour companies offer guided sightseeing tours in Jodhpur.
Best Time to Visit
It’s a tricky question to answer as many circumstances must be considered. Furthermore, Kolkata is a year-round destination, so you will have a different enjoyable experience depending on the time of the year.
October-February – Starting in autumn, the weather is pleasant, and it is a great time to visit West Bengal. Apart from the weather, this is also the time for festivals. This mega city comes alive during Durga Puja as the city is decorated with street foods and Goddess Durga all over. Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja follow this.
December and January – The coolest months and weather have become very pleasant, making it the best time to plan a holiday even though you would need warm clothes for this time, especially during the night.
How Many Days is Enough to Visit
It is well worth planning a few extra days in Kolkata as there are so many attractions to see, which will surely make it challenging to narrow down your list. Moreover, on your way from one point to another, the landscape is so fascinating that it will be difficult for you not to make frequent unplanned stops resulting in going way over your scheduled plan.
Of course, the place of interest is subject to individual opinion, but regardless of the interest, it is good to allocate at least two to three days in Kolkata and its surroundings. Four to Five days at least to see, relax, and enjoy the food that it offers without rushing. No matter how many days you plan, at the end of your trip, you will think that you must go back again.
Travel Insurance – Bad things can happen anytime, especially when you are doing activities you are not used to. I have practical experience in this. Travel insurance will protect you and your family from surprises. Don’t think about all the things that might go wrong on your trip, but these things can and do happen.
Top Things To Do In Kolkata
Located at the southern end of the famous Kolkata Maidan, the majestic Victoria Memorial is one of the most iconic landmarks of Kolkata. These 64 acres of lawns and gardens were opened to the public in December 1921 and were dedicated to Queen Victoria. The memorial (now a museum) was built using a combination of English and Mughal design.
Howrah Bridge – The Iconic Landmark
Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu) is an iconic landmark of Kolkata. On River Hooghly, the bridge is the gateway to Kolkata, as it connects the city to the Howrah Station, the most important railway station in Kolkata. It took around seven long years to build the Howrah Bridge. It is worth a visit and see for yourself.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Dakshineswar temple is one of Kolkata’s most revered, sacred temples dedicated to the goddess Kali. It is one of the largest temples near Kolkata, and it is also an architectural treasure. The conventional Nava-Ratna style temple boasts a towering height of more than 100 feet. The 12-spired temple with its massive courtyard is flanked by 12 other small temples devoted to Lord Shiva. It is located alongside the Vivekananda Bridge over the Hooghly river and only 20 km north of the central part of Kolkata and is definitely worth a visit.
Kalighat Kali Temple
The Kalighat temple, one of the oldest and most important Hindu temples dedicated to the Kali goddess, is hidden on the banks of the Adi Ganga River in the southern part of Kolkata. It is located in the place called Kalighat in Kolkata, near Bhowanipur. Kalighat is highly revered as one of the 52 Shaktipeeths, a highly sacred religious place in Kolkata. According to legends, the city of name Calcutta came from Kalighat. Though it’s chaotic and crowded, the temple is worth a visit. However, be aware of the scams that are pretty common around this temple.
Birla Mandir, Ballygunge, Kolkata
The magnificent Birla Mandir of Kolkata is an exemplary work of art. It is one of the finest architectural beauties of the city. The indigenous craftsmanship of the temple is the hallmark of its grandeur. The main temple houses statues of deities Krishna and Radha. It is located at Ballygunge in Kolkata, so paying a visit is lovely.
The Gardens came into being when the Governor General, Lord Auckland, desired to create a circus and a garden. A pleasure ground with an oblong tank in the center was laid out on this site, generally resorted to for riding and recreation. The Eden Gardens and the adjacent stadium is the largest cricket ground in Kolkata and the largest stadium in Asia. It is in the heart of Kolkata near Maidan.
Bara Bazar, Kolkata
Burrabazar (also spelled Bara Bazar) is a neighborhood in central Kolkata which expanded from a yarn and textile market into the commercial nucleus of Kolkata and the largest wholesale market in India. It’s so chaotic and authentic that you must see it to understand.
Visit Marble Palace
Marble Palace is a grand mansion built in 1835 by a French architect for Raja Rajendra Mullick, an affluent Bengali merchant and art connoisseur. He built this grand palace with a passion for preserving exquisite works of art. The mansion is famous for its sparkling white marble walls and floors, from which it has derived its present name. The palace also has an exquisite collection of Western sculptures and Victorian furniture. The majestic Marble Palace is located in the northern part of Kolkata at Muktaram Babu Street. The visiting hours at Marble Palace Mansion are between 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Kolkata High Court
The Kolkata High Court is the oldest in India. A beautiful architectural masterpiece deserves a visit. The High Court building’s design is based on the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium.
Nakhoda Mosque is the largest mosque in the city of Kolkata. The mosque has become a prime tourist attraction due to its sheer size and magnificence. Around 10,000 devotees can perform their prayer, or ‘Namaaz,’ in this splendid mosque together. Nakhoda Mosque is located in the central part of the city. It nestles in Jacquaria Street, close to the junction of Chitpur Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road.
The 48 meters high Shaheed Minar, popularly called the “Monument,” is a prominent landmark of Kolkata. You need to climb 218 steps to reach the top of the monument, from where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. The architecture of Shaheed Minar shows a brilliant blend of Egyptian, Syrian and Turkish styles of design.
New Market (Sir Stuart Hogg Market)
A heritage site in its own right, its sprawling maze of stalls offers almost everything imaginable. Amid the bustling chaos of shoppers and vendors, you will find an incredible array of goods ranging from fashionable apparel, electronic gadgets, and confection to shoes, saris, exotic flower arrangements, and rare cheeses. It was built by the British in 1874 and started as the Sir Stuart Hogg Market in honor of the then Commissioner. Many locals still refer it as Hogg’s Market.
Mother Teresa Home
If you are staying around Sudder street (backpackers area), don’t see any reason not to visit Mother Teresa’s home where she lived, prayed, and guided her religious family of sisters spread across the world. Next to her tomb, you can visit a small museum where her worn sandals, dinner bowl, bed, tables, etc., are on display.
Where to stay in Kolkata, India
Set on landscaped grounds in downtown Kolkata, Taj Bengal offers 5-star luxury with elegant rooms, an outdoor pool, and a spa. In addition, it features a 24-hour gym, free parking, and six restaurants. Taj Bengal is within 1.9 mi of Kolkata’s business district and the National Library. It is 2.5 mi from the well-known Eden Gardens and 12 mi from Kolkata International Airport. Guests can enjoy traditional Indian massages at Taj Spa & Salon after a day of activity.
Lytton Hotel provides spacious rooms with private bathroom facilities a 15-minute drive from Kalighat Temple. Centrally located, the hotel is only 3 miles from Sealdah Train station, while the Indian Museum is 2 miles away. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport is a 24-minute drive from the hotel. In addition, it has two restaurants. Dynasty-Cuisine Restaurant offers exotic Asian food, while Gaylords Restaurant serves local specialties.
My Opinion and Last Word
Have you been to Kolkata, India? Any cool tips to share?
loved being in Kolkata, India, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit India.
Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge.
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