I’ve wanted to visit Kolkata for a really long time. I think my first impression of Kolkata is based on Rajesh Khanna’s famous movie – Amar Prem. I watched the movie when I was really young and the movie formed the basis of what I expected in Kolkata (atleast the old parts) – the river, old bungalows with a courtyard in the centre, hand pulled rikshaws, women dressed in white cotton sarees. After watching Barfi, the Kolkata tram and fuchka got added to the list! I finally got to visit the city for a short duration in December’19 and for a little longer duration in January’20. While you need to really stay in Kolkata for the cultural immersion, if you’re short on time and want to do the city in a weekend (with a lil cultural immersion) here’s a quick guide.
1. Victoria Memorial – I think it’s the most famous to-do in Kolkata. Overrated in my opinion but worth one visit.
2. St. Paul’s Cathedral – bang opposite Victoria Memorial is this amazing, beautiful gothic church. This has to be my favourite place in Kolkata. It’s so pretty and serene.
3. Maidan – Walk around the area and you’ll cross the famous maidaan. Lots of greenery, a little quiet and a nice walk!
4. Fort William – these are all in the same radius. Fort William is an old British fort, now part of the army cantonment. You need a special pass to visit it. (I didn’t have it :()
5. Princep Ghat – This is right opposite Fort William. The best place to see the Ganges and go for a boat ride.
6. The Marble Palace – This is an old zamindar’s house. (Photos aren’t allowed inside). Go here to revisit the old opulance of the Bengali zamindars. I promise your mind will be blown.
7. Tagore’s house – if you do visit the Marble Palace, you are in the streets of old Kolkata. Walk to Tagore’s house to get a glimpse into India’s first Nobel laureate’s life. While walking to Tagore’s house don’t miss out on the pretty old houses around. It’s beautiful to get a glimpse into the old buildings, hand drawn carts and sculpture shops all around.
8. Howrah bridge – so I chose the worst time to visit Howrah that is at sunset. It was supremely crowded (I’m from Mumbai and if I’m calling it crowded you know how crowded it was!!!!) and I totally freaked out. I think the ideal time to visit would be around sunrise!
8. New Market – imagine an old picturesque British building turned into a market and you have New Market! It’s a typical street market with hawkers and loads of shops. It’s ideal for people looking to do street shopping.
9. Gariahat Road – For all you saree lovers, Gariahat Market is the ideal shopping place! Thousands of saree shops all together – so much to choose from.
10. Park Street – yes, yes – this should have come higher on the list but it’s just a street lined with old vintage restaurants and new ones. The more famous ones are Mocambo, Peter Cat and ofcourse, Flurrys. This street also boasts of the oldest Oxford bookstore in India.
11. Park Street Cemetery – if you have time but don’t want to venture away from Park Street – head to the cemetery to get a spook and see an old British time graveyard.
12. Have a lot of Bengali Sweets especially Baked Rosgulla. No matter where you spot them, stop and eat them sweets or you’ll regret it. I waited till the last day to eat them and I totally regret it. (Suggestion – visit Ballaram Mullick if you find one near you)
13. There are a lot of places that I didn’t make it to some are – Belur Math, boat ride on ganges, Ballygunje 6 restaurant, Devi’s many temples and riding the tram. If you have the time, do visit all these places too!
Looking forward to posting about my next trip – to the white desert – Rann of Kutch!
Do leave your Kolkata suggestions in the comments!