Kolkata is sprawled along the fringes of the Hooghly river. It was once the capital of British India. Kolkata is known as the cultural mecca of India as it has cultivated impressive monuments, which exist in stark contrast to the underlying poverty.
As soon as you arrive here, you get entranced by the bustling energy of this city.
How to go
Kolkata is the cultural hub of eastern India. And it has got all kind of connectivity. There is the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose airport in Kolkata. And it also has a massive railway station where trains run from around the country.
When to go
The best time to visit is during the Durga Puja, that is what Durga Puja is called in Bengali. The city looks beautiful with shimmering lights in every nook and cranny. The city is a busy one, and during the festival, it gets super busy. So, if you can brave the crowds this time is for you.
Things to do
One of the main attractions of Kolkata is Victoria Memorial. The crowning moment of British Raj in India. It is a must-see place in the city with a museum which gives you the detailed knowledge of British rule in India. There is an entrance fee you have to pay before you enter the memorial.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Just from the tiny lake in Victoria Memorial, you can spot the Angel of the St Paul’s cathedral. It is one of the finest British architecture left in India and the biggest church in Kolkata. The cathedral is of Gothic style made of stained glass windows.
And near the St Paul’s Cathedral lies the Birla Planetarium, which is the largest in Asia. There are shows held here from 12 pm to 7 pm, from Monday to Friday. But on weekends there are extra shows in languages other than English, Bengali and Hindi.
Birla Planetarium may be the largest in Asia, but Science city is also the largest Science center in the Indian Sub-continent. You need an entire day to spend in Science City because it is so huge. There are galleries. There is also a science park outdoor where you can practically learn the science.
If you travel by train, then you will reach the Kolkata station. And as soon as you step out of the station you see the Howrah Bridge. You will hire a taxi right under the bridge and ride on the bridge to reach your destination. The history related to the Bridge is what makes it so appealing – the bridge does not have any nuts and bolts and is a suspension bridge. Rabindra Setu is the name of the bridge, but its popular name is Howrah.
After the Rabindra Setu, comes the newer Bridge the Vidyasagar Setu which is far modern in look. You can go to a park just near the bridge and take boats to ride on the Hoogly River.
The best Zoo you can find in Kolkata is the Alipore Zoo. So, it is also the most crowded one. Children love partying here during weekend and holidays. So avoid going there in such days, if you can help it. The entrance fee is meager but there is nothing available to eat inside the zoo, so you can take something from the outside.
What to wear
Kolkata is a humid place. You won’t need a sweater there even in December. That says how hot it is. Kolkata is a place where people are far too busy to gaze at you. Girls, You can wear shorts, skirts, and dresses anything you prefer to.
Bengali is the language used in Kolkata. It is closer to its sister language Odia. You can understand Odia if you know Bengali and Vice Versa. Most of the population here is well educated. They can speak English. You will have no problem in communicating with them.
Rupees is the currency used in every state of India. Kolkata is an important city, so you can find many shops accepting cards.
Nearly every area has Wi-Fi, but most of them aren’t open networks. The best you can get is at your hotel who will share their Wi-Fi with you.
The Bongs (the Bengalis) are very devoted to their culture. And they take pride in it. Do not by any chance try to offend them because you might lose their friendship after that. There are hawkers mostly everywhere, and the place does not stop smelling like fish. But that is what Kolkata is about Hoogly and Macher Jhol( Fish curry).
As mentioned earlier, if you visit Kolkata then the Machher Jhol is must- have on the list. You can eat fish curry anywhere, but the taste you get here is far different than any other place. And even though you do not eat it at a swanky restaurant and have it at a residency, you will still love it. Other than that Rosogulla is the delicacy which popularized the city once again.
There are yellow taxis everywhere around Kolkata. That is the trademark by which many remember Kolkata. You can use the taxis or the Uber / Ola app. Most of the times, you have to book the cabs way ahead of time. The traffic is so bad, you need to wait long for the cab to arrive. Another option which is cost efficient is the metro, once you get a hang of it you can reach anywhere you want in Kolkata. You can check the schedules of the Metro on the internet to get a better idea of it. Or you can ask your hotel staff to guide you with it.
The road condition of Kolkata depends on the area through which you travel. The main roads are in top condition and a joy to ride on. But there are also places, like on the fringes of the city where you will find holes and mud.
Kolkata is an expensive place as compared to other Eastern India state. If you paid 1500 INR for a suite in Puri, you will have to pay the double 3000 INR for a decent room in Kolkata. It is better to visit Kolkata if you know someone there, so you can cut short the accommodation cost. If not, then you need 20K to spend a week in Kolkata.
How many days to travel
Kolkata has places which never get old. In every corner, there are still tokens from the past you will not want to waste. If you want to give Kolkata a thorough visit then you need 5 days to cover the main attractions.
How safe is Kolkata
Safety in Kolkata depends on where you go. If you go to a CCD, then be rest assured that you have security. But if you go to Esplanade, do not go there without company. Be safe rather than sorry.
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November 3, 2016 5:39 pm