Kolkata the ‘City of Joy’ named after the novel of Dominique Lappierre in 1995 is a city full of culture, art, dance, enthusiasm, history, beauty, festivity and fun food i.e. all in one place. Kolkata is not only a city to be seen but a city to be felt, heard and smelled. Being a city with rich history, British architecture can be felt everywhere. If you want to travel back in time then Kolkata offers you a ride in tram. The city is a perfect blend of old and modern world. Also know a ‘Cultural capital of India’, the work of Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa can be found in all parts of Kolkata. Kolkata is a food lover’s paradise especially for people with sweet tooth since you get to taste all kind of sweets. The real charm of Kolkata can be seen be seen during Durga Pooja. Being a warm and welcoming city it thrills the outsiders and never leave them disheartened by becoming a part of their soul. As a tourist the city is feast to your soul. So here is a list of Top things to do in ‘City of Joy’ – Kolkata, India.
Top things to do in ‘City of Joy’ – Kolkata, India
Visit the famous Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
Situated on the eastern bank of river Ganga, the temple was built by Rani Rashmoni, a philanthropist and a devotee of Kali on 31st May 1855. The presiding deity of the temple is Bhavatarini, an aspect of Kali, meaning ‘She who liberates her devotees from ocean of existence’. It was at this very place that the Rama Krishna Paramhamsa, the highly revered religious thinker attained his spiritual vision and advocated the unity of all religions.
The temple is easily accessible by bus, taxi and even board ferry from Howrah. The places is always full of devotees still one can experience peace of mind at this place. The temple premises are well designed with ample space for parking, a mini market for buying puja offerings and lockers for storing mobiles, camera and other valuable items safely.
Apart from the main sanctum, there is a natya griha, a radha govind temple,12 shiva temples, house of Ramkrishna Paramhans and a temple dedicated to Rani Rashmoni. There is also a garden where there is the Panchvati park, Kalptaru vriksh.(it is believed that this tree fulfills whatever you wish). Outside the temple there are lots of eateries.
Timing: 5.00 AM -1.00 PM, 4.00 PM – 8.00 PM
Address: Near Bali Bridge, P.O. :Alambazar, Kolkata 700035, India
Visit the Main Monastery of Ramakrishna order – Belur Math
The Belur Math is regarded as ‘A Symphony in Architecture’. It is a world in itself. This 40 acre campus is located on the banks of the river Ganga and dedicated to the great Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. This headquarter of the Ramakrishna Math, was conceptualized by none other than Swami Vivekananda, the renowned disciple of Sri Ramakrishna who took Hindu religion to the Western world.
The campus has a museum containing artifacts related to the history of Ramakrishna Mission, the samadhi mandir of Swami Vivekananda and his brother disciples and the house facing the Ganges where Swami Ji spent his last few days. Adjoining the Math there are many educational Institutions affiliated with Ramakrishna Mission. Facilities like lodging, car parking, washroom, cold water and free shoe place is a plus point of this place. Photography is prohibited.
Address: Belur, Howrah, West Bengal 711202
Take Maa Kali’s Darshan at Kalighat Temple
Kalighat is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas of India, where the various parts of Sati’s body are said to have fallen during Shiva’s Rudra Tandava. Kalighat represents the site where the toes of the right foot of Sati fell. The Kalighat temple in its present form is only about 200 years old, although it has been referred to in Mansar Bhasan composed in the 15th century, and in Kavi Kankan Chandi of the 17th century.
The image of Kali in this temple is unique. It does not follow the pattern of other Kali images in Bengal. The present idol of touchstone was created by two saints – Atmaram Brahmachari and Brahmananda Giri. Presently, the three huge eyes, long protruding tongue made of gold and four hands, which all are made of gold too. Two of these hands holding a scimitar and a severed head of the asura king ‘Shumbha’. The scimitar signifies Divine Knowledge and the asura (or, human) head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and hereafter.
There are many small stalls outside from where you can buy Pooja items, shells,
Timing: 05:00 A.M – 02:00 P.M, 05:00 P.M – 10:30 P.M
Entrance Fee: Free but tourist have to beware of pandit’s who try to extract money from you in the name of VIP darshan.
Address: Anami Sangha, Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal 700026
Witness the spectacular deeds of Mother Teresa at Mother house
Mother House has been home to Mother Teresa and her sisters from February 1953 to the present day. It is here that Mother lived, prayed, worked, and guided her religious family of sisters spread across the world. It is here that her body was laid to rest. The house is well maintained & gives a history of the work of Mother Theresa & her nuns. Her bedroom & tomb and some relevant exhibits are open for tourist to visit. Silence has to be maintained at this place.
The clam gesture of the sisters attending the visitors adds to the quintessential environment to understand the life of Saint. One gets to witness the spectacular deeds by the Saint during and after the lifetime here.
Timing: 8 A.M – 12 noon, 3 P.M – 6 P.M.
Visiting days: Every day except Thursdays. Mother House remains closed on 22nd August, Easter Monday, and 26th December every year.
Address: Mother House A J C Bose Road, Kolkata 700016, India.
Get lost in the beauty of Victoria Memorial
Build between 1906 and 1921 Victoria Memorial is a large marble structure dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria which is now a museum and tourist destination. Situated on the ground by the bank of the Hooghly River, near Jawaharlal Nehru road, Victoria Memorial is one of the favorite tourist destination. As night falls, lighting of the Victoria Memorial makes it look even more mesmerizing.
The park inside the complex is very well maintained and good place to sit and relax for a while after having a look at the mesmerizing structure. The museum is also well maintained and has paintings and items of historical importance.
There is an entry fee required to pay to see the museum and the complex. This is a must visit place in Kolkota.
Address: Victoria Memorial Hall, 1, Queens Way, Kolkata, West Bengal 700071
Timing: March to September – 5.30 A.M to 6.15 P.M,, October to February – 5.45 A. M to 5.30 P.M
Entry fee: Rs. 20 for Indian National, Rs. 200 for Foreign National
Drive through the World’s Busiest cantilever bridge – Howrah Bridge
When we first think of Kolkata what come in our mind is Howrah Bridge. Such is the glory of the bridge. One of the three bridges on the river Hoogly, Howrah Bridge is the most popular spot in Kolkata. It is one of the best cantilever bridges and is absolutely stunning.
The structures project horizontally into space, supported on only one end. The bridge does not have nuts and bolts and was built by riveting the whole structure. Also known as Rabindra Setu, the bridge was featured in numerous movies like Gunday, Barfi!, Love Aaj Kal, Tamil film Aadhavan, Malayalam Film Calcutta News, Roland Joffé’s English language film City of Joy etc. The bridge looks absolutely stunning at night.
Ride back in time through TRAM
If you visiting Kolkata and want to make your stay memorable then Tram ride is a must. Being one of the oldest mode of transportation of Kolkata Tram is yet another reason why Kolkata is known as city of Joy. The ticket rates are reasonably low and you get to experience this heritage ride through the heart of the city.
Tram is the brainchild of the then-Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon. Lord Curzon bought Tram to India to ensure better public transport for inhabitants and better passage of goods from ports and dockyards to their destinations. Today, tram system in the city of Kolkata is the only tram network operating in India and is the oldest operating electric tram in Asia, running since 1902.
After an exhaustive shopping you can board a tram at Dharmatala or Esplanade. During this ride you get a view of British ruled Kolkata which makes you feel nostalgic. If you are a book lover then you can get down at College Street or go straight to Hati bagan to shop.
Enjoy ride through Yellow Ambassador cabs
Ambassador car has been a symbol of power and pride, the default transport for the Indian politicians and bureaucrats. However in May 2014 the Ambassador halted production of the car that was long the choice of Indian officialdom. But Kolkata is a city which still has Ambassador as yellow cabs running lavishly on the road. So a ride through this World’s Best Taxi (Ambassodor cab) is must on your visit to Kolkata!!.
Enjoy Bengali Cuisine
Kokata is heaven for food lovers. It offers wide variety of food for both vegetarians and non vegetarians. If you are in Kolkata don’t miss the food at Bhojohori Manna. They offer a whole range of Bengali cuisine at a nominal price. Kolkata is also famous for Kathi roll. Kusum rolls offers one of the best rolls in Kolkata. Located in the prime location of Park Street, Kusum rolls are trend setters. They offer a large variety of rolls at an economical price. However if you are shopping at New Market and want to eat khathi roll then visit Nizam’s. This is another place in Kolkata famous for its kathi rolls. The place is also famous for its Mughalia food. Other food items that a must try while shopping in New Maket are puchka and jhal muri.
If you love Chinese cuisine then visit to Terreti Market is must. This place is known for its breakfast food especially Chinese. It’s a small market where you get delicious breakfast food like juicy chicken, fish monos, pork monos, sausages, prawn wafers, hot soup noddles, steamed baozi buns, chicken rolls etc. The food is not only tasty but also a lot cheaper. To enjoy this food you have to visit this place between 6 A.M to 9 A.M. Another interesting place worth a visit in Kolkata is Flurys. If you love bakery items and cakes then this place is for you. This is one of the oldest bakery of the town run by famous Paul family. You can enjoy best cakes and local delights here. This place in Park Street is a must visit and must try.
Become a sweet lover with Bengali sweet
If you are a sweet lover then Kolkata is defiantly a place for you. Kolkata and sweets goes hand in hand!! Not only the look of these sweets will delight you but the taste will make you long for more. Be it mishti doi, Rossogolla, Sandesh or any other variety of Bengali sweet you will never be disappointed!
Bengali sweet have a relatively mild sweetness and are basically milk based. The sweets are generally made of sweetened cottage cheese (chhena), unlike the use of khoa (reduced solidified milk) in Northern India. The most popular among the Bengali sweets are the Roshogolla, Shondesh, Pantua and Mishti Doi and these four sweets are deemed essential at every wedding besides some other sweets, which may vary as per individual choice. Chomchom and Pitha are other famous sweet
Shop till you drop
Shoping in kolkota is fun. As compared to other metropolitan cities one can buy quality items in Kolkata at a reasonably cheaper rate. If you want to experienced the old world charm of Kolkata shopping before the advent of shopping malls in the city, then visit to New market is must. This place has everything right from funky silver jewelry to cloths, exquisite crockery to home decor. And don’t forget this is a bargain Market! Another shoppers destination in Kolkata is Gariahat Market. Similar to New market this is a bargain market where the goods and items are reasonably priced allowing shoppers plenty of scope for bargaining. Again you can buy everything here right from sarees, jewelry, soft toys, home decor etc.
If you are a book lover then Kolkata has College street for you. This is an ideal place to look at as well as buy books, be it new or old. Old books are at reasonably low price which can be more low if you are a good bargainer.You find all kind of books here be it story, poetry, study research book etc. Another place worth a visit is Mallik ghat Flower Market. The Mallik ghat Flower Market is quit busy yet colorful market fo Kolkata. One can take amazing photos of the iconic Howrah bridge here.
What to buy while in kolkata: Well you can buy a lots of stuff since everything here is available at a cheaper rate.However to be specific don’t forget to buy beautiful cotton Kolkata sarees, red-and-white shankha polo bangles that all married Bengali women wear. You can also buy sweets but since the sweets in kolkata are milk based they have a very small shelf life typically of 4 to 5 hours. However you can buy dry Sandesh and Rossogolla. Another item worth buying from kolkata is Shankha (Conch shell). Last but not the least, you can buy date palm jaggery also know as Khajur Patali Gur. It is a winter delicacy available during November to February. It is made from sap of the date palm and is extensively used in place of sugar in all sweets.
- How to reach Kolkata – Kolkata is easily accessible by train and by air. If you are travelling by air then the nearest airport is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport situated at Dumdum, which is about 17 km away from the heart of the city. This airport has good connectivity across major cities in India and abroad. From the airport you can take a taxi or a bus to your final destination. Kolkata is well connected by train to other cities as well.
- Best Season to visit – October to March is the best season to visit Kolkata. The weather of Kolkata is pleasant during this period. Apart from the weather, this is also the time for festivals. Kolkata comes alive during Durga Puja as there are numerous pandals all over the city with beautiful idols or Goddess Durga and multiple street food stalls. This is followed by Laxmi Puja and Kali Puja.
- Who can visit – Anyone from couples to families. For people with sweet tooth its a feast and hence a must visit.
Kolkata lives to its name of ‘City of Joy’. It has everything that brings a smile to your face. It takes you back in time thought its stunning historic monuments, tram and yellow ambassador cabs. At the same time it has adapted to modern day architectures with sprawling malls and parks. The food specially the sweets makes you carve for more. The city is a feast to your soul.
Happy travelling. 🙂