Kolkata, also referred to as “the city of joy”, is the capital of the state of West Bengal in India. Formerly, it was known as “Calcutta”. It’s also the third most populous metropolitan city in India and is known for its cultural richness.
Kolkata excels in the world of literature, art, and drama. The name itself is derived from the word Kalikshetra, meaning “Ground of Goddess Kali”. If India is on your list of travel destinations, you need to prioritize visiting Kolkata during the trip.
Top things to do in Kolkata, India
Traveling in Kolkata: Fast Facts to Know Before You Go
Here are a few key facts to keep in mind before heading to Kolkata for the first time:
- Currency: Indian Rupee (₹)
- Population: 4.5 million
- Language: Bengali (native), Hindi, English
- Tap water: Not drinkable in all areas, for tourists it’s better to drink bottled mineral water.
- Famous cuisine: “Rosogolla” (a Bengali desert)
Best Time to Visit Kolkata
Kolkata is one of the very few cities in India, where you can witness the changing of five seasons with different weathers-
- Summer (Apr-Jun)
- Monsoon (Jul-Sep)
- Autumn (Oct-Nov)
- Winter (Dec-Jan)
- Spring (Feb-Mar)
Among all these seasons, Autumn and Winter are most preferable for tourists. In these months the temperature varies from 12°C to 28°C. If you want to visit Kolkata, the best time is during Christmas and the New year eve.
Best Places to Stay in Kolkata
For tourists, there are hundreds of good hotels with necessary amenities. The best of them will be the Park Hotel, ITC Royal Bengal, Floatel Hotel, JW Marriott Hotel. All of these hotels are known for great accommodation, delicious food and great hospitality. Personally, I recommend Floatel, which is located by the bank of the Ganges river (locally known as “Ganga” river). From this hotel, tourists can get a breathtaking view of the river and the city.
Best Places to Visit in Kolkata
Visit the Victoria Memorial Palace
Located in the heart of Kolkata, the Victoria Memorial Palace is another marvelous relic of British Rule in India. Made of Makrana white marble (the same type used in the construction of the Taj Mahal), the monument is surrounded by 64 acres of lush green garden. Meanwhile, the evening light and sound show is a cherry on the cake.
Check out the Indian Museum
The Indian Museum holds the 9th spot in the list of the oldest museums in the world. Popularly known as ‘Jadughar’ locally, which means ‘house of magic’, it’s the largest museum in India. The museum boasts the finest collection of contemporary paintings, ancient sculptures, fossils, ornaments, antiques, etc.
Go to the Alipore Zoo
Alipore Zoo, also known as the Zoological Garden of Alipore, is a must-visit place for nature enthusiasts. The Alipore Zoo spreads itself over an area of more than 46.5 acres containing the country’s abundant wildlife. The zoo was first established in 1876; it has never lost popularity since then.
Take a trip to the Mother House
Established in 1950 by Mother Teresa herself, the Mother House is a religious congregation called Saint Teresa. The Mother House has over 4500 missionaries; each has wholeheartedly devoted their lives to serving the poor people. There is an exhibition here that displays her life’s work with some of her belongings.
Visit the Science City
The Science City is a major tourist attraction in Kolkata. Managed by the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), it’s the largest science center in South Asia.
Inaugurated in 1997, the science center is a perfect blend of education and knowledge. Attractions ranging from optical illusions to a ropeway that gives you a bird’s eye of the city are quite popular amongst every age group.
Take a walk by the Rabindra Sarobar (Lake)
Visiting the Rabindra Sarobar lake will provide a sense of calmness and connect you with nature. It’s the best place for a morning walk to kill stress in this fast-paced lifestyle. It’s also home to numerous migrating birds, a treat for all the nature lovers out there.
Visit the Millennium Park
Situated on the Strand Road in Kolkata, Millenium Park is known for the riverside beauty and social gatherings. The park has beautiful lush-green gardens spread over an area of 1.5 miles. It’s located on the banks of River Hooghly (or Ganges), a perfect destination to spend quality time with your loved ones.
For Shopping, go to the Park Street New Market
The Park Street New Market is one of the best hangout spots in the city. Park Street in Kolkata houses some of the best Pubs and Restaurants in the city. It’s also a major access route connecting several important locations. The entire place is decorated with colorful lights that mesmerize its visitors.
Visit the Nicco Park with Kids
Famously called the ‘Disneyland of West Bengal,’ the Nicco Park is an amusement park with some of the state’s best riders. The park is known for its exaggerating rides and the efficient use of solar power. The place is quite popular amongst teenagers, thanks to the never-ending fun it provides to the visitors.
Enjoy the nature at Eco Park
Spreading over an area of 475 acres, Eco Park is the biggest urban park in India. The place is surrounded by a water body which increases the beauty of this park many folds. Moreover, this urban park promotes ecotourism as it decreases the adverse effects of nature through various measures. The Eco Park is a must-visit if you’re planning to visit Kolkata.
Offbeat Travel Destinations Nearby Kolkata
If you want to take a break from all the crowded streets and noise, the best weekend destinations near Kolkata will do the job. Take Sundarbans, for instance; the greenery stretches itself for thousands of miles and is world-famous for its mangrove forests. Moreover, if you’re passionate about wildlife, take a tour at the Sunderban National Tiger Reserve. You can also visit Henry Island, which is around 81 miles from Kolkata, to get a view of some of the most serene beaches in the country.
Best Food to Eat in Kolkata
Kolkata houses some of the best food varieties in India. For example, you must’ve heard of the Indian dessert named ‘Rosogolla’ and ‘misti doi’; those are remarkably popular in Kolkata.
Rice and fish are the staple food in Kolkata, so common that you can find them on every next stall near the streets. However, Kolkata also serves as a treat for all the fitness freaks out there, with food ranging from avocado salads, superfood smoothies, protein shakes, and many more. The food in Kolkata is diverse enough to satisfy every single taste bud of yours.
Best Festivals to Attend in Kolkata
The enthusiasm of the people in Kolkata skyrockets when it comes to celebrating festivals. The celebration of the homecoming of Goddess Durga is held during September and October. The festival is celebrated to worship Goddess Durga and is one of the main Kolkata festivals you can’t afford to miss. Festivals like Kali Puja, Holi, Poila Baishakh, Laxmi Puja, etc., are major reasons to visit Kolkata.
You have to visit Kolkata for once to understand why it’s called the city of joy. From cultures and tourist attractions to food and festivals, the city doesn’t fall short in any of these aspects. Moreover, to make your trip to Kolkata even worthwhile, we advise you to visit it during the festive season in September and October.
Guest Writer bio
Soumya is a travel blogger from India. Also, he is an engineer by education and profession. But traveling is his passion and he explored most of the popular travel destinations in India. With the tremendous experience, he started the website www.naturediary.in to promote nature traveling and environmental conservation.
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