explore Kolkata, India

What to see in Kolkata, India

The city sprawls along the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, a tributary of the Ganges, which divides it from Howrah on the western bank. For travelers, the most relevant parts of Kolkata are south of the Howrah Bridge in the areas around BBD Bagh and Chowringhee.

Central Kolkata

  • South of BBD Bagh is the huge, lush, green, open parkland known as Maidan. Continuing south from here you will find
  • Eden Gardens (one of the most famous cricket stadiums in the world),
  • Fort William, the massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1773. The fort is still in use and retains its well-guarded grandeur. Visitors are allowed in with special permission only.
  • Victoria Memorial. Along St. George’s Gate Road, on the southern fringe of the Maidan, you will find Kolkata’s most famous landmark , a splendid white marble monument (CLOSED MONDAYS).
  • Calcutta Racecourse
  • Chowringee, is the Market place of Kolkata. You will find shops ranging from Computer Periferals to cloth merchants. Even tailors and a few famous Movie theaters too. This place is a favorite pass time for local people.

Northern Kolkata

  • The Northern part of Kolkata houses the old buildings belonging to the Zamindars (Landlords) and ‘Babus'(other rich Bengalis) who used to trade with the British. It preserves the cultural heritage of Kolkata. North Kolkata gives the unique character and charm to the city of Kolkata. The building structures, a beautiful fusion of Victorian and Bengali Architecture give an impression of the royal people who stayed there. River Ganga is the hot spot for the development of the North along with Kolkata. It is generally crowded and has some interesting markets including the famous Posta, Burrabazar whole sale markets, College Street Book market where you can trace many out of print books with a little patience. While in College Street a visit to the College St Coffee House is a must. Also around the area are the Calcutta Medical College, the Presidency college and Calcutta University.
  • Nakhoda Mosque (the largest mosque in Kolkata) and the
  • Shobhabajar Rajbari the ancestral house of Rja Naba Krishna, one of the rich locals to side with Clive during his war with Nabab Siraj-Ud-Daula.
  • Jorasanko Thakur Bari (Tagore Family residence and museum).
  • Parashnath Jain Temple, near the Belgachia metro station. Entry is officially restricted to Jains only since 2012 by order of management.
  • Parashnath Jain Temple, at Gouribari, less visited, reachable from the Sovabazar Metro station (take an auto rickshaw).
  • Marble Palace, The marble palace was the private mansion of Zamindar (Land owner) Raja Rajendro Mullick, who had built this palace in 1835. It is situated on the Muktaram Babu Street in a congested part of the city. A real garden, of may be an acre with a Palladian Mansion set square in the centre. Today this place has an incongruous collection of statues and paintings. There is also a private zoo housing a collection of birds from different corners of the world.
  • The Howrah Bridge spans the Hooghly River linking Howrah to Kolkata. It is said to be the busiest bridge in the world. No photos allowed.
  • Kali temple of Dakshineswar is to the north of the city on the banks of the Ganges, across from Belur Math.

Southern Kolkata

  • The Tollygunge Club is one of the oldest clubs and a famous colonial relic housing a golf course, horse riding facilities, swimming pools, accommodation, etc. It’s located in Tollygunge area.
  • Rabindra Sarovar is a large open lake and park area housing boating clubs, an open air theatre and eateries and comes under the Ballygunge area.
  • Birla Industrial & Technological Museum on Gurusaday Road in Ballygunge.
  • Maulana Azad Museum on Ballygunge Circular Road in Ballygunge.
  • Royal Calcutta Golf Club is the oldest golf club in the world after St. Andrews in Scotland,located in Tollygunge.
  • Tollywood (the home of Bengali Films) and Television centre are also found in Tollygunge.
  • Ramakrishna Mission Institute in Golpark,at Ballygunge.
  • The Birla Temple is the largest in Kolkata and worth a visit.Its located on Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue(Old Ballygunge Road) in Ballygunge.
  • National Library of India at Alipore.
  • The South City Mall at Lake Gardens, the biggest shopping mall of Eastern India.
  • The Kalighat Kali Temple, very famous to Hindus, it houses Kolkata’s patron deity.
  • Mother Teresa’s Hospital for the destitute is next door to the Kalighat temple.
  • China Town near Park circus houses some of the finest Chinese eateries.
  • Inox-Forum at Elgin Road near Rabindra Sadan — multiplex movie hall along with a big shopping mall
  • Big Bazar on E. M. Bypass at Highland Park (Baghajatin)- here you can buy almost everything under the sun at reasonable price
  • Gariahat which comes under Ballygunge area.It is the biggest shopping district of Kolkata,where one can find shops ranging from branded showrooms and malls like Pantaloons,westside,Raymonds to numerous smaller shops.
  • Howrah Station
  • The Botanical Gardens at Sibpur.
  • Belur Math, a huge complex and the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission.
  • Visit the other colonial areas except British like serampore (Danish Settlement), Bhadeswar (German settlement), Chandannagor (French Settlement), Chinsurah (Dutch Settlement) & Bandel (Portuguese Settlement). All the areas are very nearby to the Central Business District & reach by taxt,bus or local train service

TBD

Kolkata has been nicknamed as the City of Joy. This comes from the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city. During the British colonial era from 1700-1912, when Calcutta was the capital of British India, it witnessed a spate of frenzied construction activity of buildings largely influenced by the conscious intermingling of Gothic, Baroque, Roman, Oriental and Islamic schools of design. Unlike many north Indian cities, whose construction stresses minimalism, the layout of much of the architectural variety in Kolkata owes its origins to European styles and tastes imported by the British and, to a much lesser extent, the Portuguese and French. The buildings were designed, and inspired by the tastes of the English gentleman around and the aspiring Bengali Babu (literally a nouveau riche Bengali who aspired to cultivation of English etiquette, manners and custom as such practices were favorable to monetary gains from the British). Today many of these structures are in various stages of decay. Some of the major buildings of this period are well maintained and several buildings have been declared as heritage structures. Conservation efforts are patchy and are often affected by problems of litigation, tenant troubles, ownership disputes, old tenancy laws and a lack of funds.

Government House, Kolkata, built in the early 19th century, is modelled on Kedleston Hall. The House was once the seat of the Viceroys of India; later, when the Government moved to New Delhi, it became the residence of the Governor of Bengal, a function that it fulfils to this day. While the basic features of Kedleston have been faithfully copied (the Palladian Front, the Dome etc.), Government House is a much larger, three storeyed structure. Also, the Government of India evidently did not have the funding constraints that forced the Curzons to leave their house incomplete: Government House has all four wings originally conceived for Kedleston. So today, a ‘complete’, brick built Kedleston, on a much grander scale, is in its acres of gardens at the heart of the Kolkata business district.

Museums and Galleries

  • Indian Museum
  • See a variety of preserved specimens that you wouldn’t see in the US museums. It is the largest and oldest museum of India. Located near Esplanade it is one of the most important landmark.
  • Town Hall
  • Marble Palace
  • Gurusaday Museum, Diamond Harbour Road
  • Jawahar Shishu Bhawan
  • Birla Industrial and Technological Museum
  • Maulana Azad Museum
  • The works from the life and time of India’s First Education Minister, and an architect of its secular constitution.
  • Science City
  • Sabarna Sangrahashala, Barisha.