Kolkata, the City of Joy is the hub of education, economic & culture of eastern India & the capital of West Bengal. This linear city spreads along side of the Hooghy river (Ganges). Kolkata port is the oldest port of India. Population of this 2nd largest city in India is 19 million .
Kolkata is one of the friendliest & welcoming places in India. This city is the cultural capital of India as well. You need to come down to Kolkata to visit the UNESCO’s world heritage site Sunderban which is very nearby. Climate of the city is topical wet-and-dry. One should not miss the opportunity to witness the biggest festival Durga Puja. It will be going to be the life time experience for sure. Kolkata is the city where India’s first Metro started long back in the year of 1984. There are so many places to explore by the river of Ganges in this city.
The ancient Kolkata was comprised of 3 villages named Kolkata, Sutanuti & Govindopur. There are 4-5 theories or stories about the naming of this heritage city. Kolkata on the central bank of the Hooghly (Ganges) river is the city of culture, heritage, tourism & it’s the city for food lovers. The recorded history of Kolkata began with the arrival of the East India Company in India due to its’ geographical advantage of the river Ganges hence the availability of ports. Job Charnock was thought to be the founder of Kolkata, but later in a petition from Kolkata high court, it had been declared that there was no specific founder of the this City of Joy. In 1973 the entire power of controlling this heritage city had come from Nawabs to East India Company. The larger portion of the development of this city happened between 1797 to 1805 under the Government General Richard Wellesley. East India Company had built up the Fort William building as the headquarter for their trade-in India. It was like the World Trade Centre of that time. East India Company’s main trade was opium along with textiles & jute in the later part.
Initially, Kolkata was divided into 2 territories. The white town where the British used to reside & the Black town where Indians used to dwell. This white town was centered on Chowringhee & Dalhousie square which is largely known by Esplanade or Dharmatala now. Though new Kolkata is having 3 parts, South Kolkata, Central Kolkata & North Kolkata. Major parts of today’s Central Kolkata were actually the place of British,i.e., the White town then. Everyone can have a great visual treat of British architecture in every part of this Kolkata. All the administrative buildings & some business houses are now part of this British architecture. You just need to take a walk alongside the Chowringhee & Dalhousie square & you can witness the masterpieces of British architecture that can only be seen in London. It is no wonder if someone feels like walking on the pavement of a small piece of a street in London. Kolkata was the capital of India till 1911. Later the capital was shifted to Delhi because of increasing nationalism grown in this part of the country. The city of Joy, Kolkata’s culture evolved from the collective influences from Zamindars & British largely. Nawab of Mughal’s culture is less as compared to Zamindar & British. This is probably the only city in the world where one can find out the feel of Zamindar, Nawabs & British.
The City of Joy Kolkata is largely known for its’ cultural heritage. Kolkata was not only the capital of the Indian Independence movement. It is the home for the writer of National Anthem, poet Rabindranath Tagore, home for Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay writer of ‘Vande Mataram’. Cinema, Theatre, Literature have always been an integral part of Kolkata & Bengalis. Kolkata is the home & workplace of globally acclaimed several film directors like Oscar winner-Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Gautam Ghose, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh & Kaushik Ganguly. Bengalis are always art & painting enthusiasts. The country’s first government art college had been established in the year of 1864 in Kolkata. Kolkata is also known as the center of academic excellence & music as well. Many festivals are also being celebrated in big ways. It is being said that ‘Baro mashed Taro Parbon’ means festivals keep on happening throughout the year.
Kolkata is the land of great yogi & spiritual Guru Thakur Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa who was the priest of the Dakshineswar temple founded by Rani Rashmoni. It is the home of the great saint & philosopher Swami Vivekananda. Kolkata is always been a place of communal harmony. Good numbers of famous Temples, Mosques, Gurudwaras & Churches are there in Kolkata. Parsi, Chinese & Japanese Buddhist temples are also an integral part of this city.
The iconic monument was built between 1906 & 1921. Lord Curzon took the initiative to build up this Makrana marble palace in the memory of Queen Victoria, then empress of India. It is proud to know that Victoria Memorial was funded by voluntary contributions from different Indian states under British Raj, not from the British government. This architectural masterpiece opened its door for the common people in the year of 1921. The design of this monument was largely inspired by the British. There are 25 galleries inside the museum of Victoria Memorial Hall. If someone is keen to know the history of Kolkata will have to visit the Calcutta gallery in Victoria Memorial. Along with this museum, 64 acres lush green garden is a major tourist spot, especially during wintertime. This picturesque garden is being maintained by 21 dedicated gardeners throughout the year. One can see lots of marble sculptures & 2 bronze statues inside this garden of Victoria Memorial Hall. Another tourist attraction of Victoria Memorial is its’ Angel. This angel of victory is poised at the top of the central dome of Victoria Memorial. The height of this fairy is 4.9 meters & 6.5 tons in weight. This bronze cast statue acts as a lightning arrestor& protects this monument over the years. Earlier it used to revolve around, in between it had stopped though. Victoria memorial is always been on the top of the list of Kolkata Tourism.
This 9th oldest museum in the world has always been one of the major tourist places in Kolkata since its inception in the year of 1814. It was founded by famous Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich. This age-old museum is in the heart of the city, Chowringhee between Park Street & Esplanade metro station. Indian Museum is the largest museum in the Asia Pacific region. This museum has got six sections- Indian Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology & Botany. One can see the actual huge skeleton of a dinosaur in its natural history collections along with the other 2 collections, Egyptian & Indian. Indian Museum is having 35 galleries altogether. The main 2 attractions apart from the dinosaur’s skeleton are an Egyptian Mummy & Buddha’s ash. These rare collections have made this museum one of the major attractions for visitors.
This 47-acre zoological garden is a big tourist attraction since 1876, even for the residents. Every winter people gather & cherish their wish to see different types of animals, birds, reptiles with their children. This 250-year-old zoological garden also known as Alipore Zoo is one of the oldest zoological gardens in the world. This zoo is having whopping 12266 individuals & about 108 species of mammals, birds & primates. Someone can adopt an animal in this zoological garden. This zoo is the home for some migratory birds as well during wintertime. The Royal Bengal Tiger, African Lion, Asiatic Lion, Jaguar, Hippopotamus, the great Indian one-horned Rhino, reticulated Giraffe are amongst some of the animals which attract the tourist during wintertime. It will take an entire day to have a look & have a real feel of this zoological garden.
This 200-year-old historical Kali temple is located on the bank of the river Adi Ganges nearby a place called Bhawanipore. Kalighat is believed to be one of the Shakti Peetha of Maa Durga, where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell during the Rudra Tandava by Lord Shiva in India. The uniqueness of this temple is the statue of the goddess Kali. Here the feature of the Goddess is a long protruding tongue that is made of pure gold. Any celebrity or foreign delegate visits Kolkata, Kalighat Kali Temple is a must-visit place for all of them. It’s being considered a very holy & sacred place. This temple one of the main tourist spots in Kolkata attracts people across the country even from abroad. According to one school of thought, the city of Calcutta was named after this Kalighat temple only.
The iconic Howrah bridge which was named after great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore was constructed in the year of 1943. It took 8 long years to complete this engineering masterpiece. Though planning started long back in the year 1906. The most wondering fact is this balance cantilever bridge does not have any nuts & bolts but was built up riveting the whole structure. This masterpiece has always been the attraction of Kolkata Tourism. Howrah bridge carries 100000 vehicles & 150000 pedestrians daily, making it the world’s busiest cantilever bridge. This bridge has its own enigma which drags famous directors to capture its beauty in their cinemas across the globe repeatedly.
This church is believed to be the first Episcopal church in the eastern part of the world. This architectural marvel was built up in the year of 1847. It is the largest church in Kolkata & the first Anglican cathedral in Asia. After 2 massive earthquakes in 1897 & 1934, this church was badly affected & reconstructed with a revised design which is standing tall now. This Church is located on cathedral road very nearby to another iconic building Victoria Memorial Hall. There are other 3 iconic places of Kolkata along with this church on the same island surrounded by the road. These places are Ravindra Sadan, Nandan & Birla Planetarium. It has become one of the famous tourist places in Kolkata.
This garden is named after the great scientist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose who discovered that plant has life as well as a human being. This historical garden is spread over 273 acres & founded by colonel Robert Kyd in 1787. It is in Howrah’s Shibpur area, very nearby to Kolkata. The main tourist attraction of this botanical garden is the great Banyan tree. This tree is considered the largest tree in the world has a circumference of more than 330 meters. This iconic garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world after one in Australia & another one in England. According to the last census report of 2007, this botanical garden is having 1400 species of plants & 1200 species of trees, out of these 500 species are rare of the rarest. Some of the interesting-looking trees are the ‘Phuchka Tree’, ‘Rasogolla’ tree among the other famous trees in this astonishing botanical garden.
This Kali temple is located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly river(Ganges), one of the major tourist places near Kolkata. It was founded by Rani Rashmoni in the year of 1855. And this temple came into the limelight when Thakur Ramakrishna had become the main priest of Maa Kali, the idol of this temple. Thakur Ramakrishna’s entire life is associated with this holy place. There are twelve shrines of Lord Shiva along with the main Kali Temple in the same premises. The name of the Kali statue worship here is known as Maa Bhabataraini. The Kali idol is placed on a thousand-petaled silver lotus throne which is the uniqueness of this Kali idol. This 100 feet high Bengali architecture is being a famous tourist spot for many decades. It attracts people from the corners of the country & abroad as well.
Missionaries of charity’s Mother’s house which is a place of tourist attraction was founded by Mother Teressa herself in 1950 with an aim for the relentless & selfless service towards the mankind, especially for the homeless peoples & orphans. Mother Teressa was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize & ‘Bharat Ratna’. Mother Teressa was declared Saint by the Vatican. After Mother’s death, she was laid to rest in a tomb inside this house. This place is now being considered a holy place & one of the tourist places in Kolkata. Mother House is located near Ripon Street in Central Kolkata. A small museum attached to Mother’s House is maintaining some of the memories of Mother Teressa like her used sandals, dinner bowl, sari, crucifix, rosary & others. Mother Teressa’s work has been spread over 133 countries with more than 500 centers globally.
India’s first scientific & industrial museum is one of the tourist places in Kolkata, especially for its’ mock-up underground coal mine. One can have the real experience of being inside a coal mine. This historical building was once owned by the great Tagore family. Later in the year 1911 G. D. Birla bought this & converted it into G. D. Birla Park. Later it had been converted into an Industrial & Technological Museum in 1959 in the necessity of having the museum of science for a developing country. It is located at the crossing of Gurusaday Dutta road & Syed Amir Ali avenue near the Ballygunge part. There are so many attractive galleries on telecommunications, popular sciences, electronics, physics, astronomy, life sciences, mathematics, etc. This is a must-visit place, especially for school-going children. They can have hands-on experience in the know-how of scientific stuff.
popularly known as ‘Taramandal’ a tourist spot at the heart of the city. It is the 2nd largest planetarium in the world. Its’ architecture looks like Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi. This science piece of structure is entirely dedicated to Astronomy, space science & astrophysics. Daily shows & programs are being conducted in languages in different slots. This is one of the most visited tourist places in Kolkata, especially with young masses. It has unveiled its’ new look after the renovation in 2017.
This 40-acre spiritual piece of land was founded by great philosopher & saint Swami Vivekananda, the principal disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. This Math is the global headquarter of Ramakrishna order. It is comprised of the main Mandirof Thakur Ramakrishna, a museum & shrines of Maa Sarada & other holy saints of Ramakrishna order. The spiritualism & scenic beauty of this Math make it one of the important tourist places near Kolkata. The main temple’s architecture was influenced by several religions & architectures. Is on the bank of the Ganges, one can see the Dakhshineswar temple on the other side of the river from this Math. Sandhya Arati(evening prayer) is one of the major attractions over here.
This famous mosque is one of the historical tourist places in Kolkata. Prince Ghulam Mohammed, the youngest son of Tipu Sultan built this mosque in the year 1842 in the Dharmatala area. This Mosque is evidence of the architectural & cultural heritage of Kolkata. Another identical mosque was also built up by Prince Ghulam Mohammed in the crossing of Tollygunge. These mosques talk about the legacy & taste of the Tipu Sultan empire who was the ruler of Mysore. Now a question might come as, why Prince Ghulam Mohammed established these 2 mosques quite far from Mysore. During the British time when Srirangapatnam was captured by the British army then the entire family members who were life at that time had been shifted to Kolkata.
The main mosque of Kolkata is situated at the crossing of Zakaria street & Rabindra Sarani in Central Kolkata. The gateway of this mosque is an illustration of Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri. The highest dome’s height is 151 feet with a capacity of 1000 inside of the prayer hall. Nakhoda Masjid was built up in the year of 1926. Nakhoda means mariner. Abdur Rahman Osman who funded this building was a shipping prince, that’s why it is named Nakhoda. Its’ architectural extravaganza made this one an important tourist place in Kolkata.
is the ancestral house of the great Poet Rabindranath Thakur? Rabindranath Tagore was the first non-European recipient of the Nobel prize. Poet spent a large time of his life here in this house at Rabindra Sarani. The government has restored this house and part of it is converted into the Rabindra museum. This Zamindari palace had been built up in the 18th century. It has become a tourist spot, especially for those who would like to know about Gurudev, Rabindranath Tagore.
This palatial mansion was built up by a wealthy Bengali merchant Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835. It is located at Muktaram Babu street, North Kolkata. It is a famous and a major tourist spot because of its rare collections of western sculptures, Victorian furniture, rare pieces of mirrors, age-old rare paintings by some globally acclaimed painters. The premises include a rock garden & a small zoo. The antique collection attracts tourists over there. The entrée is free but needs to take prior approval from the West Bengal Tourism Information Bureau near the esplanade. Tour guides are there who will give a tour of the house for the tourists who are visiting this Palace.
This iconic monument, one of the tourist places in Kolkata was constructed in the memory of Major-general David Ochterlony in 1828 by the British East India company to mark his leadership in the war with Marathas & Gurkha war. It is in the Esplanade area on the northeast side of Maidan. This Minar is a combination of Egyptian, Syrian & Turkish architecture. This 157 ft. monument is having 223 steps in total to reach the top of the monument. The adjacent vast field is known as the ‘Brigade ground’ place for political rallies.
You can’t think about Kolkata tourism without food. When you talk about Kolkata you will have to talk about ‘Mishti’(Bengali Sweet) as well. Kolkata, Bengal, Bengali all are synonymous with sweets. In ancient days Bengali sweets used to be made with mainly coconut & jaggery. But later with Portuguese colonial influence, usage of ‘Channa’(cottage cheese) had started & the invention of famous Bengali sweet Rasgolla happened from the hand of Nabin Chandra Das in a small shop in north Kolkata. Few iconic Sweet shops are Sen Mahasay, Girish Ch. Dey & Nakur Ch. Nandy, Putiram, Nalin Ch. Das & Sons, Bhim Ch. Nag, KC Das, Ganguram & Sons. Apart from these sweet shops, there are other 2 sweet shops of the modern age Balaram Mullick & Bancharam.
Apart from the sweets, Kolkata is known for various other foods like Phuchka, Rolls, Jhalmuri, Aloo Kabli, Lucchi Aloo Dum, Mughlai Paratha, Kabiraji Cutlet, Bengali telebhaja, etc. One can try Phuchka, Rolls Jhalmuri, or Aloo Kabli any street-side good place. If you want to try Mughlai Paratha you will have to go to Agadir Cabin in the esplanade. If someone wants to try Kabiraji Cutlets need to go to Mitra Café in North Kolkata or Das Cabin in Gariahat. If someone wants to have a taste of Bengali cuisine need to visit some authentic Bengali restaurants like 6 Ballygunge place, Sholo Ana Bangali, Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor, Koshe Kasha & Bhaja Hari Manna. There are good numbers of Chinese, Continental, Mughlai, Punjabi & South Indian restaurants across the city. Kolkata Biriyani is very famous and a little different from the other parts of the country because of the presence of potato in it. Some good food joints for Biriyani are Oudh, Arslan, Alibaba. Kolkata city is known for food lovers.
There are several places for attractive tourist activities like Science City, New Town Eco Park & Nicco park.
There are so many hands-on experience kinds of activities related to several scientific illustrations. Apart from this, there is shown based 3-D theatre, time machine & earth exploration hall. One can take the ropeway ride to have an aerial view of this largest scientific park of the Indian subcontinent.
New town Eco-park, India’s largest park is on the outskirt of the city. This urban park is the latest addition in the feathers of Kolkata tourism. There are more than 20 types of huge thematic areas along with the activities of the visitors like Paddle boating, shikara riding, rowing, duo cycling, speed boat, bird watching, gun shooting, archery, kayaking, etc. It will take an entire day to have the feel of all the activities in this eco-park.
Nicco Park is an amusement park located in Salt Lake City is a great tourist attraction, especially for kids. Nicco park is having more than 35 rides along with a water park, Wet-O-Wild.
Come & have a feel of the great heritage, culture & enjoy the varied cuisine of the this City of Joy. Kolkata tourism will give you a great long-lasting memory of a lifetime.
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-- India Enigma
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