Kolkata is a place you can lose yourself to. The City of Joy is known for its laid back lifestyle, avid lovers of literature, food, music, and everything that makes life worthwhile. If you are a traveller and plan to visit Kolkata, you have to touch the city’s soul to know the place well; and how better to know a place other than living like the natives do? Yes. When you are in Kolkata, know the metropolitan best by doing what the Kolkatans do. We have a list of all the things you can do to make your stay in Kolkata most remarkable and memorable.
What to see in Kolkata
- Indian Museum
Founded in 1814, the Indian Museum is one of the oldest and largest museums not only in India, but in Asia-Pacific. Ranked as the ninth largest and oldest museum in the world, the Indian Museum houses some rare historical items that range from paintings to sculptures, artifacts, mummies, skeletons, armours, and antiques. The gallery at the Indian Museum is divided into six main categories: Archeology, art, anthropology, geology, botany, and zoology. Visit the Indian Museum for an enriching experience, to develop a deep insight in the six sections the museum prides itself for.
Timings and entry fee:
- Closed on: Mondays, 26th January, 15th August, 2nd October, Diwali, Durga Puja, Id-ul-Fitr.
- 10am-5pm: march to November
- 10am-4.30pm: December to February
- Indian: INR 20
- Foreigner: INR 500
- Kumartuli Idol Making
Kumartuli, or Coomartolly, started as a village for potters in the region around 1757. The areas in those days were defined by the people who lived there, and Kumartuli was a place you could find all the potters in and around present-day Kolkata. The potters used to fashion idols of Goddess Durga from clay that they got from the riverbank, and therefore Kumartuli came to be known as the one place in the country famous for its idols of the Goddess.
Today, if you walk into Kumartuli, you can see how the idols are fashioned, painted, dressed, and exported all over the country and overseas. Visiting Kumartuli will give you a very different perspective of Kolkata. This is the best place to find out about Kolkata’s old days and a trade that hasn’t been lost to time.
- Victoria Memorial
One of the most prominent monuments in the city, the Victoria Memorial stands tall and proud for more than a century since its foundation stone was laid in 1906 by the then Prince of Wales. The monument’s architecture is an interesting blend of British and Mughal style, a style the british adopted during their time in India. This is known as the Indo-Saracenic Revival Architecture. The Angel of Victory stands atop the high, central done of the monument, the figure rotating as the wind changes direction. The significant monument was built in the memory of Queen Victoria and is a centre of attraction for tourists who visit Kolkata today.
Although the monument bears a strong resemblance to the Taj Mahal in terms of architecture and material used, but it has its individuality every inch. Come and see this historical monument when in Kolkata, to experience the gone days of British Raj and see the remnants here.
Address: Victoria Memorial Hall, 1, Queens Way, Kolkata, West Bengal
Timings: Open every day. 10am-5pm.
- Tagore’s House (Jorasanko Thakur Bari)
The Tagores of Jorasanko have captivated the hearts of millions. The house where Rabindranath Tagore was born, the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, attracts tourists from far and wide, who hope to catch a glimpse into the lives of the Tagores, the days lost to time and a rich lineage that’s no longer around in those vast halls and thakur dalans. This is the house that was built in the eighteenth century by Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore.
The house is located on the campus of the Rabindra Bharati University today. The university organizes cultural festivals to mark the life and achievements of the great poet on important dates. Come to Jorasanko Thakurbari to experience the aristocracy and trace the footprints of one of the most prominent families of Kolkata that broke stereotypes, set new trends, and gave new meaning to certain ways of life during their lifetime for all to follow even after they weren’t around anymore.
Address: Near Ganesh Talkies, 700007, 267, Rabindra Sarani, Singhi Bagan, Jorasanko, Kolkata, West Bengal
Where to Eat in Kolkata
If there’s something other than a laidback lifestyle and a love for the arts, it’s the food Kolkata is famous for. Kolkatans love their meat spicy and their desserts exquisite. There are hundreds of restaurants in Kolkata, specializing in one dish or the other, it’s actually difficult to point out a single place that’s the best in everything. But here’s the three must-visit places in Kolkata to make your time in the City of Joy worthwhile.
- Peter Cat
Located in the heart of Park Street, Peter Cat stands proud since the 1960s. The restaurant draws its inspiration from the gone days of the colonial era, with its white interiors and dimly lit yellow lights, the hanging lamps and the restaurant’s signature dish Chelo Kebab. Chelo Kebab, a dish of saffron and turmeric flavoured biryani-style rice, served with two sets of mutton kebabs and one stick of chicken kebabs, salad, butter, and a poached egg. The dish is exclusively defined by the restaurant in Kolkata and it’s highly unlikely that you will find Chelo Kebab like this anywhere in Kolkata, or in any place else in the country. The exclusivity and authenticity of the dish is what makes the restaurant so famous in the city. Come here for the dish Kolkatans absolutely swear by.
Address: 18 Park Street, Kolkata, West Bengal.
Price for two: INR 1200.
Once we have the meat covered at Peter Cat, let’s head for the dessert. Not very far from Peter Cat, we have the oldest eatery and bakery of Kolkata — Flurys. The bakery has been making the best of desserts, assorted bread, cakes, mince pies, pastries, and everything nice since 1927. Come here for a hearty cheesecake, a slice of fluffy pastry and a cup of Earl Grey, you will not be disappointed with what you will be served here. The chicken quiche is especially a must-have when at Flurys, along with chicken puffs and their vegetarian counterparts of capsicum and vegetable puffs. These are amazing to have with a cup of hot cappuccino or lime tea on a sunny winter morning at Flurys.
Flurys also offers you the best of treats for your sweet tooth in the form of fresh cream pineapple cake, black forest cake, red velvet cake, apple pie, lemon tart, strawberry cube, rum balls, short breads, fudge brownies, cheese and almond tart, cinnamon rolls, and dozens of other such heavenly delicacies.
Address: 18A, Park Street, Kolkata, West Bengal.
Price for two: INR 1400.
- 6 Ballygunge Place
Founded in 2003, 6 Ballygunge Place is a chain of restaurants in Kolkata famous for its authentic bengali cuisine. There’s no bengali dish that you won’t find on their menu, and there’s no traditional bengali dish that anyone else can make better than they do. This is a place to drop by for lunch or dinner if you want to eat and experience what Kolkatans eat, perhaps then you can understand why we Kolkatans love our food so much!
With time, many authentic bengali dishes are vanishing off the menu because of the elaborate process required to prepare them. At 6 Ballygunge Place, you can relish some of those dishes with ease, because this is what the place specializes in. Get in touch with the lost bengali tradition here through some of these excellent dishes, and discover the true spirit of Kolkata.
Address: 6, Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge, Kolkata, West Bengal
Price for two: INR 1000.
Where to go
When visiting the city of cultures and traditions, here are some of the places you have to swear by so you can understand Kolkata better. You haven’t really seen Kolkata is you haven’t known both the faces of it, a modern-day park that amuses everyone alike, the oldest and largest library of the country, and a film centre that reflects the very soul of the city.
- Nandan West Bengal Film Centre
The Nandan West Bengal Film Centre is a cultural centre sponsored by the government of West Bengal. Since there are films screened here that are at par with all ages, you will find both people of all ages here. This cultural centre was founded by former chief minister of West Bengal Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, and renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray had inaugurated it. Come to Nandan for a glimpse of Kolkata’s cultural and film lineage, which runs deep through Kolkata’s lifeline.
Address: 1/1, A.J.C. Bose Road, Kolkata, West Bengal
- Eco Park
An urban park meant for the young and old alike, Kolkata’s Eco Park is a traveller’s escapade for a few hours. Best visited on a winter’s afternoon, The New Town Eco Park offers you relaxation and activities, beauty and solitude. Visit Eco Park for a fun-filled relaxed evening.
The park spans over an area of 480 acres, and is best discovered on foot. Although you can opt for cycling and the adorable golf carts that help you get from one end of the park to another, this is a place you must go early in the afternoon and explore on foot. There is an ice-skating rink near Gate 1, which is a must-visit. You will also find a butterfly garden, and Light & Sound Show near Gate 3, interesting and enjoyable. Come to Eco Park to find relaxation amidst the happy chaos called Kolkata.
Address: Major Arterial Road (South-East) Action Area II, New Town Kolkata, West Bengal.
- National Library
The National Library of Kolkata is the oldest library in the country, renowned for its vast collection and public record. The library features books in almost every Indian language, with the Hindi department’s books going back to the nineteenth century, and has some of the first books printed in the language. The library also has as many as 3200 manuscripts and 86000 maps at the reader’s disposal.
If you are an avid reader and love libraries, the National Library of Kolkata has to be on the top of your list of places to visit when in Kolkata. There are as many as 2.2 million books in the National Library, needless to say with a vast collection as this, there’s hardly any other library in the country that matches the historical building. Come by the National Library on a winter’s morning and bond with old manuscripts over cups of coffee.
Address: Belvedere Road, Alipore, Kolkata, West Bengal
Open hours: Monday to Friday: 9am – 8pm, Saturday to Sunday: 9.30am – 6pm