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Kolkata (2 days)

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

Key Points:

  1. Kolkata is not one of the best travel destinations, but is an important part of travelling around the world.

  2. WikiVoyage has the original version of travelling in Kolkata. But we have rewritten and integrated several articles together to create a better version.

According to Wikipedia, "Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, the city is approximately 80 km (50 mi) west of the border with Bangladesh. It is the primary business, commercial, and financial hub of Eastern India and the main port of communication for North-East India."

Here we quote the best way to travel in Kolkata provided by wikiVoyage, a multilingual, web-based project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide. Wikivoyage is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that also hosts a range of other project such as Wikipedia. Please edit the articles and find author credits at the original wikiVoyage articles on Kolkata, Maidan, Esplanade, East Kalkata, Northern Fringes. Content on wikiVoyage can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Part 1: Understand. The name is derived from Kalikātā, the name of one of the three villages in the area before the arrival of the British. The name was officially changed from Calcutta to Kolkata in 2001 by the then-left Government of West Bengal. However, the name "Calcutta" still survives in the names of institutions like Calcutta High Court, Royal Calcutta Golf Club, University of Calcutta etc.

Part 2: Get Around.

By taxi

Kolkata just wouldn't look the same without the plethora of yellow Ambassador taxis that ply on its roads. They're easily available, relatively cheap, and will use their meters, at least in theory.

By metro

Kolkata Metro is the oldest rail rapid transit system in India. It is the fastest, cleanest, most reliable, least crowded (though still rather crowded) and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 6-15 min, from 7AM-9:45PM from Monday to Saturday and 10AM-9:45PM. on Sunday. As of September 2022, the following lines are open:

  • Blue Line 1 (North–South Metro): Dakshineswar to New Garia (Kavi Subhash)

  • Green Line 2 (East–West Metro): Salt Lake Sector-V to Sealdah

By tram

Kolkata has the only tram service in all of India and the oldest surviving electric tram network in Asia. Though decommissioned in some parts of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of travelling between a few places within the city. Operated by WBTC since 2016, they move slowly on the laid tracks in traffic-jammed streets, but they are environment-friendly (no emissions on the street, only at the source of energy generation). The network includes 25 Tram Routes.

By bus

The city has an extensive bus network (possibly the most exhaustive in the whole of India) and this is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. The routes are written all over the colourful buses in Bengali and also in English. The conductors call out their destinations to everyone he's passing and all you have to do is wave at the bus anywhere and it will stop, at times causing a small queue of other cars behind it.

By rental car

Privately owned rental car places are available throughout the city. Rates depend on the make, model, size and comfort level of the car. Agreements are flexible, for example, cars can be rented even for couple of hours at an hourly rate. Most rental cars are accompanied with a driver from the rental agency.

By foot

Except in Maidan and newly developed areas, much of Kolkata is not so pedestrian-friendly. In the more tourist oriented areas, you'll be constantly accosted by beggars and touts. Crossing roads often involves wading across multiple lanes of heavy traffic. Try your best to move in a predictable straight line, so vehicles can weave around you. Better yet, latch onto a group of locals and cross in their shadow. If you really want to walk around, these places would be good:

  • Walk along the Hooghly River. There is a good promenade near the Eden Gardens.

  • Walk along the Chowringhee Road, which sets the pace as you unravel the rare beauty of this city. Across the road sweeps a huge, lush green, open parkland called the Maidan, centering around Fort William, the massive and impregnable British Citadel built in 1773. A rambling green ‘lung of Kolkata’, the area is a hub of diverse activities.

Part 3: Itinerary

Day 1:

1. Maidan

Maidan is a district of Kolkata. In the city's heart, the 400-hectare park stretches from the Hooghly river in the west to Chowringhee and Park Street in the east, and from the Victoria Memorial in the south to Raj Bhawan and Eden Gardens in the north. Lending its name to this area is the huge, lush, green, open parkland.

  • Bijoy Smarak. Historical landmark.

  • Glorious Dead Memorial. Open all day. A memorial dedicated to the fallen soldiers of World War I.Free.

  • M.P. Birla Planetarium, 96, Chowringhee Rd, (N of St. Paul's Cathedral). One of the oldest Planetaria in India. The only planetarium in the country whose dome houses a collection of projectors and optical equipment expensively imported from East Germany. It is the largest planetarium in South Asia and the second largest in the world. Daily shows in English, Hindi and Bengali. The central dome measures 25 m in diameter.

  • St. Paul's Cathedral, 1A, Cathedral Rd (Rabindra Sadan metro station walk 400 m toward north). The largest Anglican church in Kolkata. It was constructed in 1847 and serves as a cathedral church of Church of North India (CNI). This Gothic-styled cathedral was designed by William Nairn Forbes.

  • Shaheed Minar (Ochterlony Monument). Locally known as simply "Monument", the British colonial monument is 48 meters high. It is rededicated to the Indian freedom activists in 1969 and the monument was renamed to Shaheed Minar.

  • The 42, 42B Chowringhee Rd. At 260 m (850 ft), The 42 is the tallest building in Kolkata.

  • Time Ball Tower.

  • Victoria Memorial, Queen's Way, ☏ +91 33 2223-5142, Tu-Su 5:30 AM-6:45 PM, Son et Lumière (English) 7:15 PM Oct-Feb and 7:45 PM Mar-Jun. The city's most celebrated landmark, this monument was built with imperial self-confidence and was the brainchild of Lord Curzon, one of India's most flamboyant Viceroys.

2. Esplanade

Esplanade is the heart of Kolkata. It consists of the region just north of the Maidan and includes B. B. D. Bagh with all its colonial British buildings. The district takes a visitor back to the Raj-era with nostalgic overtones. Many of the city's important buildings are here, the central business district of the city.

  • Assembly House (Bidhan Sabha Bhaban), Esplanade Row West.

  • Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha, 1 Buddhist Temple St, ☏ +91 33 2211 7138. A Buddhist monastery established in 1892 and run by the Bengal Buddhist Association. The distinct red building mostly consists of a school and a guest house. There is a very small Buddhist shrine tucked away on the 1st floor.

  • Calcutta High Court, Esplanade Row W (near Babughat), ☏ +91 33 2254-8000, fax: +91 33 2248-7835, It is the oldest high court in India. It was established as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William in 1862. It has jurisdiction over the state of West Bengal and the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The High Court building is an exact replica of the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium.

  • Carey Baptist Church, Bepin Behari Ganguly St, Bow Bazar (Metro Central), ☏ +91 33 2236 7254.

  • Esplanade Tram Museum, Esplanade Row East.

  • Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu), Brabourne Flyover. The area around Howrah station and Howrah Bridge has grown as a world of its own, catering to the needs of a huge floating population. The 705-metre (2,313 ft) long Howrah Bridge is a cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River, commissioned in 1943, replacing the older pontoon bridge. This bridge frames the skyline of the riverfront. The ambiance is as amicable and profound as the river that flows alongside it.

  • Indian Museum, 27, Chowringhee Rd, ☏+91 33 2249 5699, fax: +91 33 249 5696. closed on Mondays. Established in 1814, this was the first such museum in Asia. Among its famous collection is the urn that held the ashes of the Buddha (though this is generally not on display), an Ashoka pillar (the three-lion symbol from which became the official emblem of the Republic of India) and numerous rare antiques. Varied collection of exhibits that include unique fossils, Buddhist Gandhara art, and Egyptian mummy.Admission: ₹10 (for Indian citizens) ₹150 (for foreign citizens).

  • Tipu Sultan Mosque, 185, Lenin Sarani. Built in 1832 by Prince Ghulam Mohammed, the youngest son of Tipu Sultan. People from all sections of society and religions are allowed to visit and take pictures of this historical premise.

  • Town Hall, Esplanade Row W (West of Raj Bhavan). built in 1813, in Doric style of architecture. It is now the City Magistrate’s Office. Don’t let the riverfront mesmerize you yet! Between the Town Hall and the Strand is the Calcutta High Court, scene of legendary legal battles. Completed in 1872, the Gothic architectural style was copied from the Staadhans at Ypres, Belgium. The tower measures 55 m.

Day 2:

3. East Kolkata

  • PC Chandra Garden.

  • Science City, junction of J.B.S. Haldane Ave (Park Circus Connector) and EM Bypass. It is one of the most spectacular science centres in the country. The size of the Science City baffles the first time visitor.

4. Northern fringes

  • Brahmamoyee Kali Temple, Mulajore, Shyamnagar. A replica of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.

  • Dakshineswar Kali Temple. A famous Hindu navaratna (nine-pinnacled) temple built by Rani Rashmoni between 1847 and 1855. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was the head and only priest of this temple from 1856 to 1886. After his death, it has been taken over by the West Bengal Government. It attracts thousands of worshipers around the year. There are several other temples in the large complex and a ghat (steps leading to the river) on the bank of the Hooghly River. Beside it, you can see the temple of "Radha Gobinda" a famous temple of Lord Krishna and Radha. You will even be able to see the twelve temples of Lord Shiva.

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