Kolkata which once served the capital of India during the British raj, is home to many colonial era architectural wonders including the world renowned Victoria Memorial. Other attractions in the city of Kolkata which will attract your attention include the Howrah Bridge, the Indian Museum, the various temples, churches, mosques and amusement parks among other.
The Writers’ Buildings derives its name from the custom of junior writers or clerks of the English East India Company staying in mud hovels. A cluster of 13 four-storeyed buildings, the Writers’ Buildings, a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, occupies an area of 10 acres, housing thousands of employees. Currently the edifice houses the state government secretariat and is not open to tourists.
A tour of the museums in Kolkata is a good way to explore the history and ethos of the city. The second largest museum in India, the Indian Museum, with thousands of artefacts, is a prime attraction in Kolkata. Located adjacent to the General Post Office (GPO ), the Postal museum and Philatelic Bureau should be visited to appreciate the impressive collection of Indian stamps. The interactive museum, which is housed in the famous colonial monument Town Hall, captures the history and life of the people of Kolkata.
Gurusaday Museum of Folk Arts is another place where the rich culture of rural Bengal is exhibited. The museum at the Swami Vivekananda’s House in the city display furniture of the period. Rabindranath Tagore House Museum is another place where you would be able to know more about Tagore, the first Asian to win Nobel Prize.
The monuments dotting Kolkata bear testimony to the rich history and diverse culture of the city. The striking Victoria Memorial, a superb example of Indo-Sarsenic architecture, is a magnificent structure in marble. Son-et-lumiere shows, tracing the history of the colonial India, are held with the grand edifice in the background.
Formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument after David Ochterlony, built in his memory in 1828, this 48 meter high tower is situated in the Maidan and is a famous ladmark of Kolkata. Another historical monument that deserves a visit in Kolkata is Raja Rajendro Mullick’s Marble Palace which was built in 1835. The building is decorated with paintings, mirrors and statues.
Raj Bhavan is an imposing, grand edifice built in 1799 on the lines of Kedteston Hall in England. Today the palatial structure is the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal. Town Hall and GPO are other famous monuments of Kolkata.
The Kalighat temple, the presiding deity of which is Goddess kali, is the most famous religious site in Kolkata. One of the shaktipeeths, the temple, said to have been built some 350 years ago, enshrines three-eyed image of Kali.
Situated on the banks of the Hooghly River, this temple complex of Dakshineswar is visited by thousands of devotees. The room where Ramkrishna lived is an added attraction. Built in 1926 on the lines of Mughal Emperor Akbar at Sikandra near Agra, Nakhoda mosque in Kolkata is a sacred site for the Muslims.
Famous for its huge size, the mosque is used by thousands of worshippers. A short walk from Victoria memorial is St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most famous churches in Kolkata. Built in Indo-Gothic architecture, the structure is known for its lovely stained glass windows. Birla Temple, Jain Temple, St. John’s Church and Belur Math are other religious sites in Kolkata.
Opened in 1787, Indian Botanical Gardens houses the largest banyan tree in the world, this two century old tree with a circumference of 900 ft is a delight for the lovers of flora. Spread over an area of 109 hectare, the garden is home to a cactus house, Palm House, Orchid House. Spread over an area of 86 hectares, the Zoological Gardens in Alipore is the habitat of several rare animals and birds including tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos and hippos. The lake located in the centre of this largest zoo in India attracts a large number of migratory birds during the winter.
Popular with families, this amusement park offers some of the most thrilling rides and attractions. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Kolkata, the park is open on all days.
One of the prime tourist destinations in Kolkata, the huge green stretch of field, known as Maidan (moi-dan), is home to several playgrounds of different games and sports like cricket, football etc.
Eden Gardens is India's most famous cricket stadium which is a witness to some of the most thrilling cricket matches played in the world.
Situated to the west of the Victoria Memorial, the Maidan Race Course offers one of the best horse- racing in India.
One of the largest in the world, Birla Planetarium in Kolkata offers regular shows on astronomy related subjects in English, Hindi and Bengali.
221 km from Kolkata, Murshidabad was the seat of government of the Nawabs of Bengal. This historica place in the state of west Bengal is closely associated with events that ultimately changed the course of Indian history. Located on the southern banks of the Bhagirathi, Murshidabad is also known for its silk, ivory carvings, handicrafts and brassware and still has the air – and appearance – of a medieval city. As a matter of fact, Murshidabad is a place that seems to exist suspended in time somewhere between the medieval and the modern.
152 km from Kolkata, Vishnupur is synonymous with terracotta. The beautiful terracotta temples found here are feasts or eyes.
133 km from Kolkata, Mayapur is headquarters of the International Society for Krishna consciousness (ICSKON) movement.
131 km from Kolkata, the exotic Sundarban National Park is inhabited by a large number of animals, plants, endangered and extinct species, aqua fauna, avifauna and reptiles. A compelling destination for wildlife enthusiasts, the Sundarbans, declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997, boasts one of the largest concentrations of Rouyal Bengal Tigers. Cruising the waterways through thick mangrove forests is an unforgettable experience.
One of the most popular excursion sites from Kolkata, Digha is a famous beach chararterised by the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal.
132 kms far from Kolkata, Bakkhali is an unspoilt beach of great natural beauty, 2 kms from Bakkhali is located the beautiful beach Fraserganj.
200 kms from Kolkata, Bakreshwar is famous for its hot sulphur spring known for its medicinal values. Located in the in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, the place is also a sacred place as it is home to the shrines of Shiva and Shakti.
200 km from Kolkata, Shantiniketan, which means the abode of peace, is known for the world famous Viswa Bharati University founded by the revered poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in 1921.
A shopper in Kolkata will be spoilt for choices. Both traditional markets and plush shopping malls exist side by side. While the traditional markets such as Barra Bazaar , New Market and Gariahat are a shoppers’ delight, ultra-modern malls like the Forum, Charnock City and the Metro Plaza are thronged by the people in large number.
By Air: Kolkata is connected by air with all the major cities in India and abroad.
By Rail: Howrah & Sealdah, the two main railway stations in Kolkata, are connected by rail to all of the important cities and places in India.
By Road: Good motorable roads connect Kolkata to all the major cities and places in India. Some of the cites and places connected with Kolkata are Bhubaneswar (498 kms), Patna (547 kms), Puri (560 kms), Shiliguri (606 kms), Darjeeling (678 kms), Varanasi (681 kms), Delhi (1490 kms), Haridwar (1586 kms) and Mumbai (2060 kms).
Local Transport: Taxis, auto-rickshaws, city buses, trams, trains and Metro rail services are available.
The hotels in Kolkata cater to the needs of a wide array of tourists from business to leisure. These hotels are strategically placed to explore the capital of West Bengal.