Sunday, January 29, 2023


Best Kolkata Travel Guide: For the First Timers

What can we say about Kolkata? It is our home, a place we love deeply. It wasn’t until we started blogging…

By Chan , in Travel , at January 23, 2023

What can we say about Kolkata? It is our home, a place we love deeply. It wasn’t until we started blogging about travel that we discovered the beauty and charm of Kolkata’s “City of Joy.” Kolkata is rich in history and has many exciting places scattered throughout the city. We’ve written about many of these places and traveled to them. We have yet to write anything about Kolkata. Perhaps we got the home syndrome‘. We have created this Kolkata Tourism Guide to tell you all about the tourist spots in Kolkata, as well as unique attractions and other places that locals only know. This Kolkata Travel Guide is perfect for your first visit.

Kolkata is chaotic. Although smaller than Mumbai or Delhi, it is home to many passionate people about their culture, history, and people. Calcutta was, before Delhi was established, the British first capital. It is nearly 300 years old. The city is a mix of a beautiful past and a bright future. British colonial architecture was impressive, and Kolkata proudly displays it today.

Calcutta, or Kolkata, is the country’s cultural capital. It is home to some of the most talented poets, writers, and literary performers. It is still the center of all artistic activity in the country. Kolkata is a paradise for foodies. Bengalis (people from Bengal) love food and love to serve delicious dishes to their guests. And those who claim that Kolkata food is just March–Bhaat (fish, rice) are entirely wrong.

You could go on about this place, which is dear to you. Let me stop and tell you about Kolkata’s sites to see, eat, and other interesting facts. The city can be overwhelming for foreigners visiting Kolkata for the first time. Kolkata can seem overwhelming to first-timers. This is true for all Indian cities. But Kolkata will slowly grow on you. The city of Kolkata is known for its heart. To believe this, you must stay there.

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How to reach Kolkata?

By Air

Kolkata is found in West Bengal, India’s eastern region. Kolkata’s international airport is Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport. About 16km separates Kolkata airport and Esplanade, which is in the city’s center.

Alternatively, Kolkata has excellent connections to other Indian cities by flying throughout the day.

Train

India has a vast railway network that allows one to travel anywhere in India via train. There are three essential stations in Kolkata: Howrah Station, Sealdah Station, and Kolkata Terminus. Howrah Station is the busiest. The trains connect all three stations from nearly every part of India.

By Bus

If the distance exceeds 200km, I wouldn’t recommend traveling by bus. However, buses can be taken to Kolkata from nearby towns.

How to get around Kolkata?

It is easy to get around Kolkata. You have many options for getting around the city.

Metro, I recommend Metro as the best mode of transport. However, the problem with Kolkata’s metro line is that it needs to be more extensive. The metro line runs through a small area; although extended, more is required to cover the whole city. New metro lines are being built. We are still determining when they will become operational. The Metro is a clean, efficient, and affordable mode of transport in Kolkata. The ticket price ranges from Rs 10 to Rs. 25.

Local Buses in Kolkata: Local bus travel can be a challenge. Although you won’t have trouble communicating with the local bus drivers, getting on and off them can be difficult. The government-run AC buses work better in this regard. Local buses are affordable.

Yellow Taxis and Ola & Uber: Kolkata’s iconic yellow Ambassador taxis are also well-known. They were once the primary mode of transport in the city. As children, it was always exciting to get on a yellow cab and travel around the city. Yellow taxis have a bad reputation. Taxi drivers will attempt to bring you the highest fare if you identify as something other than local. This is especially true for foreigners. All these taxis come with a meter, and you must pay according to what the meter reads.

Prepaid taxi counters are available at Howrah Station, Sealdah Station, and Airport. From these counters, you can obtain taxis to any location in Kolkata at a predetermined rate. This is a great way to travel as you don’t have to negotiate with the taxi driver.

There is also Uber and Ola, which will take you anywhere in Kolkata.

Rickshaws some rickshaws can take you to short distances. Only one city still has hand-pulled rickshaws. The rickshaw drivers do it voluntarily, and the rider decides if they want to take a hand-pulled or not. These rickshaw rides were something I enjoyed as a child. But now, hand-pulled Rickshaws are no longer an option.

Local TrainsKolkata’s train network is much more extensive than the Metro’s. These trains are cheaper and can be used to travel to most parts of the city. The train can get very crowded between 9–11 am and 6–9 pm. This is when most office workers commute.

Trams for Kolkata

The oldest running electric train system in Asia is the Kolkata tram. The trams once connected all parts of the city. Trams are almost obsolete, thanks to modern technology and more efficient transport options. Some tram routes still operate in Kolkata because they are part of our heritage. It is pleasant to take a tram ride in Kolkata. It is not practical as a mode of transportation.

What is the best time to visit Kolkata?

The climate in Kolkata is tropical, with hot weather throughout the year. There are three seasons in Kolkata: summer, monsoon, winter, and a minimal amount of autumn and spring. The summers can be sweltering and humid. Monsoons will be moist and wet. Clear skies are the norm for winter.

Between October and March is the best time to visit Kolkata.

October and Nov: This autumn season is characterized by clear skies and warm temperatures. However, humidity is still a problem. It is a great time to visit Kolkata for Durga Puja. This festival, the biggest and most crazy of Bengalis, is celebrated in October (sometimes late September).

December through March: Mid-February to December is winter when it’s colder and more humid. This is the best season to visit Kolkata. These are the festivals and fairs that Kolkata holds. The most extensive book fair in Kolkata, Kolkata Book Fair, is held in January.

April through May: Kolkata can get very hot and humid during these summer months. The most common problem you’ll face is sweating, which can be very tiring to explore the city during the day.

June to September: These are the monsoon months. However, the monsoon was moved to mid-July for the past two years. It is hot and humid again, and rain can spoil outdoor plans. Travelers can brave the rain and still go out. If you’re visiting this area, make sure to bring a raincoat or an umbrella.

Top Tourist Places to visit in Kolkata

As I mentioned earlier, Kolkata is a mix of old and new. One part of Kolkata is an ancient and decaying area trying to preserve its past. The roads here are congested, and the houses are old and connected. There are many alleys, boulevards, and some streets. This is Calcutta’s older part. The second part is the modern, expensive one with flyovers, malls, modern offices, and apartments – the new Kolkata.

  1. Victoria Memorial

The Victoria Memorial, one of Kolkata’s most grand and elegant monuments, is a must-see attraction. This white marble structure is one of the most luxurious structures built by the British in Calcutta. Victoria Memorial was constructed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 25-year reign over India. The white marble structure, which spans 64 acres, is surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The Kolkatans love Victoria Memorial. In winter, hundreds of people walk on the Victoria Memorial lawns. A museum is also available that displays a variety of antique items.

Timings The Garden is open every day from 5.30 to 6.15 pm. The Victoria Memorial Hall (Museum) remains open from 10 am to 5 pm. Mondays are closed for the Museum.

Entry Fee INR 30 for Indians, INR 200 for Foreign Visitors

Nearest Metro Station: Maidan Metro

  1. Kalighat Temple

Kalighat Temple, one of Kolkata’s most sacred temples, is also home to Goddess Kali, the guardian deity. Although it is commonly believed that Kalighat is the source of the city’s name, this is different historically. Kalighat Temple is one of 52 Shakti Peethas in Hinduism. Here was the Rudra Tandava of Lord Shiva, which fell on Devi Sati’s right foot.

The temple’s idol is made from black stone. The long, protruding tongue made of pure gold is an exciting feature of the Goddess Kali temple in Kalighat.

Kalighat Temple is always full of devotees who come to pray and receive blessings from the goddess. While you are visiting the temple, be careful with your belongings. If you are planning to offer prayers at the temple, only purchase Puja offerings from vendors.

Timings, The temple’s hours are from 5 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10:30 pm.

Entry Fee Null

Nearest Metro Station: Both Kalighat Metro and Jatin Das Park Metro

  1. Howrah Bridge

The Howrah Bridge is the most famous structure in Kolkata. It is located across the Hooghly River and serves as the gateway to Kolkata, connecting it to Howrah Station. With thousands of people crossing the bridge to enter and leave Kolkata, the Howrah Bridge is the fourth busiest cantilever bridge. It measures 1528 feet in length and 62 inches wide.

To get to Kolkata from Kolkata by train, you will need to cross the Howrah Bridge. A boat ride on the Hooghly River can give you a fantastic view of this iconic bridge.

  1. Dalhousie Square

Kolkata is a city that has many firsts. It was India’s first city to have a Page 3 newspaper. It was India’s first city to have authentic Italian restaurants (not Domino’s Pizza or Pizza Hut). The Town also had a metro line. Many of these firsts can be found in the Dalhousie region.

The “White Town” was the name of Dalhousie Square in British times. The British moved the capital of Bengal from Bengal to Calcutta after the Battle of Plassey and constructed it to make it the second city of the Empire. They were successful, as evidenced by the presence in Dalhousie Square of many colonial architectures. You can walk by the Raj Bhavan and explore the GPO. Take a look into the Company stables. Then, relax by the Lal Dighi. The St. John’s Church area can also be visited. As you stroll along the site, listen to exciting stories from the past.

  1. Indian Museum

Indian Museum is the oldest and largest multipurpose Museum in India. It was established in 1814. It is affectionately called “Jaguar” in Kolkata. It houses a variety of ancient and contemporary paintings, including Mughal paintings. It also houses a rare collection that includes antiques, ornaments, fossils, and skeletons. The Museum currently has 35 galleries.

Hours of Operation: Opened every day except Monday

Timings 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (March to November) and 10:00 am – 4:30 pm (December to February).

Entry Fee INR 20 for Indians, INR 500 for foreign tourists

Nearest Metro Area: Park Street Metro

  1. Kumartuli

You must have read about Kolkata’s famous Durga Puja. Kumartuli is where Durga idols were made. This is where the “rumors,” or potters, who settled in the area in the early eighteenth century, reside. The lanes and mazes in Kumartuli are busy with idol-makers before the Durga Puja, which is held in October. You can visit Kumartuli to see the idol maker’s work. Be careful not to damage the idols by walking.

Nearest Metro: Sovabazar Metro

  1. Mallick Ghat Flower Market

The Mullick Ghat Flower Market is located just below the Howrah Bridge. This is Kolkata’s largest flower market and is a delight for photographers. The market opens at 4 am every morning when flower sellers from nearby areas arrive with their merchandise. Although the market is chaotic, overcrowded, and dirty, it is where you can see vibrant and unpretentious Kolkata.

  1. Paul’s Cathedral

The elegant and beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral is near the Victoria Memorial. It is the episcopal church of the eastern region. It is a magnificent church made of all-white and boasts beautiful architecture. The church is open to the public. You can sit down and enjoy your quiet time there. Photography is not permitted inside the church.

Nearest Metro: Rabindra Sadan Metro.

Timings: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

  1. John’s Church

St. John’s Church in Kolkata is one of the oldest churches. It is a sacred site as well as a historical landmark. It houses a collection of historical documents that are related to Kolkata. The original burial ground was on the land where the church was built. There are still a few graveyards around the church, including the tomb of Job Charnock, who is believed to be the founder of Kolkata.

Timings 8 am-5 pm

Entry Fee Null

Location: 2/2, Council House Street. Raj Bhavan is near the church.

  1. Princep Ghat

Princep Ghat or Prinsep Ghat are two of the most picturesque places in Kolkata, where you can relax and enjoy. The pristine white structure, with the second Hooghly Bridge in the background, is located right beside the banks of the Hooghly River. The Princep Ghat, a magnificent example of colonial architecture, is the most important monument to the riverfront.

Princep Ghat can be visited, and you can sit on the large lawn around it. You can also go on a boat trip down the Hooghly River. The railway station with the same name also stops on the circular railway in Kolkata.

Entry Fee Null

Where to get there: There’s no nearby metro station. To reach Princep Ghat from Howrah, you can take a ferry across the river. Uber, Ola, and the yellow taxi of Kolkata can take you to Princep Ghat from any location in Kolkata.

  1. Dakshineswar Temple

Dakshineswar Kali Temple, another revered temple in Kolkata, is well-known and highly regarded. Rani Rashmoni founded it in 1855. Ramkrishna Deb was the temple’s main pandit.

Dakshineswar Temple can be found about 20km from central Kolkata on the banks of the Hooghly River. The famous Belur Math is located on the opposite bank of the temple. Nearly every day, Dakshineswar Temple is visited by many people. The Temple and Belur Math can be seen together. Ferry services can be arranged from Dakshineswar Ferry Ghat towards Belur Math Ghat.

Entry Fee: Nil

  1. Belur Math

Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramkrishna Math and Mission, is the symbol of Universal faith. Swami Vivekananda was the inspiration behind Belur Math. He was a famous disciple of Sri Ramkrishna who had brought the message of Hinduism to the west. Belur Math, located on the banks of the Hooghly River, is considered a “Symphony of architecture” because it incorporates Hindu, Islamic, and Christian architectural elements. This symbolizes the unity of religion.

Belur Math is a peaceful place where you can sit and meditate. It would be a pleasure to experience the peace of the Belur Math campus.

Entry Fee: Nil

  1. Mother House

Source: Wikimedia

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity in the Mother House. From 1953 until she died in 1997, the Mother lived in this house. The house also contains a grave for her body. The tomb can be visited as well as a small museum that displays her items.

Ripon Street

Entry fee: No Charge

  1. Botanical Gardens Shibpur

Botanical Gardens, or Acharya Jagadish ChandraBose Indian Botanic Park, is located at Shibpur’s west bank of River Hooghly. It covered a vast area of 273 acres and was established in 1787. It is home to approximately 12000 perennial plants. Botanical Gardens’ main attraction is the Great Banyan Tree, which is a massive banyan tree. This tree forms the second-largest canopy in the world. Botanical Garden is a refreshing breath of air in the heart of Kolkata. You will need to wear shoes that can withstand strenuous walking.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm every day, except Mondays

Entry Fee: Rs 10 for Indians and INR 200 for foreigners

  1. Eco Park, New Town

You have been reading mainly about heritage sites in the city all these years. A visit to Eco Park in New Town is essential to experience modern Kolkata. Eco Park, also known as Ecotourism Park, is an urban park that promotes ecotourism in the area. It covers an area of over 480 acres and features many exciting gardens.

The Seven Wonders of the World is the most popular attraction in the Ecopark. These are replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World built throughout the park. The park has many gardens, including the butterfly garden, tea garden, mask garden, fruit garden, rose garden, and fruit garden. A large water body surrounds the park. Boating facilities can also be found there. Ecopark is a beautiful place to spend some time and learn about Kolkata or Bengal.

The Mishti hub is near Eco Park’s Gate No.3. This unique concept allows you to find most of Bengal’s best sweets shops under one roof. You will find the best sweets in Kolkata all under one roof. This is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Summer hours are between 2.30 and 8.30 pm. The park is open every Sunday and holiday from 12 to 8.30 pm. Winter season (November-February): The park is open from 12 to 7.30 pm. The park is open Sundays and holidays from 11 am to 8.30 pm. Monday is Monday.

Entry fee: Rs.30 per head Individual activities in the park have their own rates.

Things To Do in Kolkata

Where can I stay in Kolkata?

You will find hotels in Kolkata of all types and ranges. Google will show you the best areas to stay in in Kolkata. Sudder Street is the preferred choice for most foreign tourists visiting Kolkata.

Stay near Esplanade or Park Street if you want to be in the heart and soul of the city.

You can find hotels close to the airport by searching for hotels in New Town or Chinar Park.

Although Kolkata doesn’t have a developed hostel culture, there are a few hostels. Check out Offbeat CCU.

What to eat in Kolkata?

Kolkata is a paradise for foodies. Bengalis love their food, vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Street food is a highlight of Kolkata. Kolkata street food is influenced by Bengali cuisine, but you can also find food from other parts of the country. Kolkata street food includes mouth-watering rolls, phuchkas, and papri chat.

You must try Bengali food while in Kolkata. Bengali food goes beyond rice and fish. It is also about sweets, lots and lots of sweet dishes. Bengalis love sweets, and a Bengali meal is only complete with the rosogolla.

The best place to eat Bengali food is

  • Kasturi (our personal favorite)
  • 6, Ballygunge Place
  • Bhojpuri Manna
  • Ashli
  • Oh! Calcutta
  • Mitra Cafe (only for snacks or treats)

You might also want to try other well-known restaurants in Kolkata

For Biriyani & Kebabs:

  • Indian Restaurant in Khidirpore
  • Amber
  • Amina
  • Arsalan
  • Nizam’s
  • Shiraz Golden restaurant
  • Oudh

Chinese

  • Mainland China
  • Buddha Bites
  • Any restaurant in Chinatown, Tangra

Remember that the Chinese in Kolkata are mainly Indianized Chinese, which has evolved to suit the tastes of the local population. It is possible to get a less authentic Chinese experience in Kolkata. Even so, the Chinese version is just as good!

Continental

  • Peter Cat, Park Street (One of my favorites)
  • Moulin Rouge Park Street (I love the atmosphere here. The piano is still being played at night in this place.
  • Mocambo again on Park Street
  • Barbeque Nation

Exciting places to visit near Kolkata

You can take a day or two-day trip from Kolkata to visit places such as Mandarmani, Shantiniketan, and Sunderbans. Each site is unique and offers a fantastic experience.

Day trips to Kolkata include Chandannagore (formerly French Town), Bandel Church, and Hooghly Imambara.

Where are the best shopping places in Kolkata?

There are many exciting places to shop in Kolkata. Different items can be bought in other markets in Kolkata. Shopping in Kolkata is easy with the New Market. Esplanade Market, Gariahat market and Gariahat Market . These markets offer clothing, footwear, fashion items, jewelry, and household goods.

New Market is a favorite place for Kolkata shoppers, even during the era of high-end malls and expensive shops. We were taught as children that New Market had everything. We still hold that belief to this day. To learn more about traditional Bengali cuisine, visit the Dakshinapan market at Gariahat.

College Street is the place to buy books and other educational products. It is as easy as looking for it.

Suppose you’re looking for Malls, South City Mall at Prince Anwar Shah Road and City Centre at Salt Lake. City Centre II at New Town and Acropolis near Ruby is also available.

Kolkata Travel Guide (FAQs Answered)

Q. Q.

It all depends on what you want to do in the city. Most travelers stop in Kolkata before heading to Darjeeling or northeast India. You must spend at least two days exploring and visiting the most important sites in Kolkata.

Q. Q.

Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, has good internet and mobile connectivity.

You can search Sims Direct if you’re a foreign tourist arriving in Kolkata.

Q. Is Kolkata expensive?

Kolkata is as affordable or as expensive as you wish. Kolkata is generally a relatively inexpensive place to live. The following ways can help you cut down on the cost of travel to Kolkata:

Accommodation: The cost of housing is up to you. Some hotels offer rooms starting at Rs 500, and 5-star properties can be found for as much as Rs 3000. For a good budget hotel, accommodation costs can range from Rs1500 to R3000.

Food: food can be very affordable. All three meals are available for Rs 500.

Transport: Public Transport in Kolkata is cheaper than in other Indian metros. You can save a lot of money if you travel by public transport.

Q. Q. What about Kolkata’s nightlife?

Although it might not be as active as Mumbai’s nightlife, Kolkata still has a vibrant nightlife. The city is home to many bars, clubs, and lounges. The Park Street area is home to the majority of Kolkata’s nightlife. If I had to pick a few, they would be:

  • Someplace Else Park Street is one of the most well-known pubs in the city
  • Roxy, Park Street – upscale cocktail bar
  • Shisha Bar, Camac Street
  • Tantra, Park Street – stylish lounge
  • Nocturne – Theatre Road – Nightclub

Kolkata is safe at night.

Some things to remember when visiting Kolkata

  • Be wary of friendly taxi drivers at your airport or railway station. They are okay but will try to get a higher taxi fare for foreign tourists. Use the prepaid counter at the railway station or airport to get a taxi to your accommodation or hotel. Other times, you can ask yellow taxi drivers for a meter.
  • Take care when you eat street food. If you’re not careful, you might have a stomach problem.
  • Be careful with the water you consume. Drink water from any source, even tap water.