Kolkata – The New York of India


Kolkata has so much to lure its visitors. The place is a great tourist attraction for the people coming to India. Kolkata formerly known as Calcutta is the capital city of West Bengal. Kolkata is the New York of Indian sub-continent. Kolkata is the second largest city in India and the third largest metropolitan of the country. The City is located in the eastern part of India on the banks of River Hooghly. Untill 1911 Calcutta was the capital of India during British rule. Kolkata was once the center for education, science, industry, culture and politics in India. Kolkata is now a charming city that attracts its visitor for the historic and ancient monuments. It is a place where poverty is mixed perfectly with the British – era gems. Today the city is known for its marvelous infrastructure, education, rich culture and for the glimpse of the bygone era. Today the city is booming in all aspects namely, industrial boom, infrastructural boom & manufacturing boom. Like other metros of the country, Kolkata is also juggling with the problems of poverty, traffic congestion, pollution and urbanization.

The city of Kolkata is famous across the boundaries for its rich infrastructure, old college buildings and delicious cuisines especially sweets like sandesh, roshogulla, mishti doi (sweet curd), Rajbhog, kalo jam, abar-khabo, Jal-bhora, sitabhog etc.

General information:

Language(s) – Bengali, Hindi, English
Population-5,080,519 (2009)
Area – 185 km2 (71 sq mi)
Kolkata, “The city of Joy”, was formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital city of West Bengal. The city today is the cultural capital of India. The city is located on the east banks of Hooghly River in the eastern part of India. It is a metropolitan city with amazing infrastructure and beautiful city life. The charming city of Kolkata is more than 300 year old and still has British imprints of British Raj in the form of Victorian architecture. Its close proximity to the river and sea developed it as a major commercial center.

Best time to Visit:

Kolkata is very close to see and the major river of West Bengal, Hooghly. This leads to the hot and humid climate for most of the year. It has tropical climatic conditions. The peak winter season is witnessed only in December and January. For rest of the winter season the weather is pleasant. The peak season to travel to Kolkata is from October to March. The climate is pleasant to moderate cold. Also October and November is the time when the major festival of Durga Puja and Diwali are celebrated here. Durga Puja is the major festival celebrated in whole West Bengal. In the months of January and February the biggest book fair is organized that attracts visitors from all across the world.

Getting in and around :

Being a major metropolitan city of the country and the capital of West Bengal, Kolkata is easily accessible from all parts of India by air, road or rail. It is also accessible by sea route from the coastal regions of the country.

  • By Air: It is completely accessible by air. There are a numerous domestic carriers that connect all the major cities of India like Bagdogra, Chennai, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Port Blair to Kolkata.
  • By Rail: Just like in case of Air Travel, Kolkata is very well connected to major rail heads of the country. There are two major railway stations in Kolkata; one is located in Howrah and the other at Sealdah.
  • By Road: The Esplanade Terminus is the main bus Station that lies in the middle of the city. Kolkata connects to all the major cities of India by road network.

Local transport:

  • Taxis
  • Metro rail
  • Local Train
  • Tram
  • Auto-rickshaws
  • Man-pulled Rickshaws

Eat : The main and the most important of the Kolkata cuisine are rice and Macher Jhol where macher means fish and jhol means curry. The dessert includes rasagulla, sandesh and mishit doi (sweet youghurt). In whole of the West Bengal you will find numerous fish dished, be it dry masala based or curry based. Each region has its own specialty. The most common fish used in Bengali cuisine is hilsa.

Major tourist attractions of Kolkata:

1. Victoria Memorial:

The Victoria Memorial was built in the memories of Queen Victoria after the death in 1902. The memorial was opened for general public in the year 1921. The memorial was designed by William Emerson. The cost of constructing such a massive structure that time was Rs.10.5 million. All the money collected was the volunteer donations from the rich British and Indian people. Inside the Memorial there are various painting of the Royal British families, royal and historic artifacts, lithographs and documents of the historical interests. Today the monument is a major landmark of Kolkata

2. Howrah Bridge :

Howrah Bridge of Kolkata is also known as Rabindra Setu. The Howrah Bridge of Kolkata is the busiest bridge in the world. The bridge caters to about 1,00,000 vehicles and uncountable pedestrians. The bridge is 450 meter long and it stands in Hooghly River without any pylon. The bridge is the best example of the 20th century engineering techniques.

3. Birla Planetarium:

Birla Planetarium is a world famous astronomical library and art gallery. The planetarium is located on the crossing of theater road and Chowrangee road. Initially the Planetarium started functioning as an educational scientific research center in 1962 and was formally inaugurated on July 2, 1963 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The planetarium has put forward more than 350 projects in the field of :

  • Astro- physics
  • Celestial Mechanics
  • History of astronomy
  • Astronomy
  • Mythology concerning the stars
  • Eclipses
  • Many more celestial events.

4. Birla Mandir :

Birla Mandir across the world are known for their fabulous architecture and clean surroundings. The Birla Mandir of Kolkata stands at and elevation 160 ft above the ground. The construction started way back in 1970 and it took 26 long years to complete it. The gates were opened for general public after the completion of the temple in the year 1996. The estimated total cost of construction is Rs.180 Million. The whole temple is built in white Marble and is spread over 44-katha of land. The Birla Temple is popularly known as Lakshmi Narayan Mandir.

5. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple :

As the name says, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. The construction of the temple started in the year 1847. The founder of this temple is Rasmani, the queen of Janbazar. The temple is located on the banks of Hooghly River. The main deity of temple is Bhavatarini who is a form of Devi Kali. It is believed that the person who worships Devi Bhavatarini, will overcome all his sorrows and problems. The temple is spread over 25 acres of land that includes the temple premise and the surrounding gardens.

6. Marble Palace:

Earlier the palace was known as the “Palace of Art”. The Palace was built in 1835 and was a private possession of Zamindar (Land Owner) Raja Rajendro Mullick. The palace is situated in the congested part of the city. The palace showcases art forms from Italy, Netherlands, England and other European Nations. The Palace is now known as Marble Palace because the interiors of the palace are made from marble. The palace has idols of Buddha, Christ, Christopher Columbus, Virgin Mary and various Hindu Gods.

7. Fort William:

The Fort is named after King William III of England. Fort William was constructed in 1781 to mark the victory of Robert Clive over Sir David Ochterlony at Plassey. The large patch of garden that surrounds the fort is called the maidan. The Maidan is 3 kilometer long and 1 kilometer wide. It is the largest urban park in Kolkata. Within the Fort’s premise there lies a church, cinema, boxing stadium, market, football ground, post and telegraph office, swimming pool and firing range.

8. Indian Museum:

The Indian Museum at Kolkata is the oldest museum in India built back in 1814 by Dr. Nathaniel Wallich, who used to be a botanist from Denmark. The Indian Museum is the largest museum of the country and ninth oldest regular museum of the world. The museum exhibits collection of antiques, mummies, Mughal paintings, skeletons, fossils, ornaments and armor. It was shifted to the new building in 1875. The building was designed in Italian architectural by Walter B Grawille. The museum was open to general public in the year 1878. The museum is divided into six main sections as Zoology, Industry, Geology, Archeology, Anthropology and Art, the museum has over 60 galleries.

9. Calcutta High Court:

The Calcutta High Court is the oldest high court in India. The court was established on 1st July 1862. The high court building is the replica of the Stand Hans in Ypres, Belgium. Though the name of the city is changed to Kolkata but the name of the court still remains Calcutta High Court. The Calcutta high court is the highest judiciary seat in West Bengal. The building is built in the Gothic style architecture and was designed by Mr. Walter Granville, Government Architect. The High court has jurisdictions over West Bengal and the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands.

10. St. Paul’s Cathedral:

The St. Paul’s Cathedral is built on the basis of Indo-Gothic architectural style and was designed by Major William Nairn Forbes. The foundation of the building was laid in 1839. It took eight long years to complete the construction. The main building was destroyed twice because of the massive earthquakes and was rebuilt. The last time it was destroyed in 1934 and was re-built on the lines of the Bell Harry Tower of Canterbury Cathedral.