Kolkata takes you back in time. All the new buildings and structures have not been able to rob the city of its ‘charm’. Kolkata is a mixed bag, you don’t know what it has to offer until you have been there. From small alleys lined with chat and cigarette shops to plush malls and market places, the city has it all. If you like walking, then this is definitely your destination. Walking and exploring the city is the best way to know it.
As you step out on the streets, you instantly notice yellow taxis, trams and ghoda gadi that complete the picture. You can start your day by exploring the busy market areas the city has to offer. Dakshinapan shopping complex houses several handicraft and handloom outlets owned both by the states of India as well as privately-run shops. Here you can choose from a variety of Kolkata silk sarees and jewellery. The state owned shops are very reasonable and don’t burn a hole in your budget. From printed silks to ‘warli’ print silks, this complex offers a complete shopping experience. If you are still not satisfied with your shopping bags, you can head to the New Market in Lindsay Street. Its sprawling maze of stalls offers almost everything imaginable. It can be crowded and chaotic but if you’re looking for a bargain, it’s not to be missed. You can start by exploring the outdoor stalls of bags, shoes and junk jewellery.
You can buy bags, clothes, silver jewellery, bakery items, leather goods, household products etc. As you go on exploring the dingy market, you stumble upon the oldest bakery in Kolkata. More than a 100 years old, Nahoums should be visited just for the experience. Refresh yourself with a glass of fresh green tea served in small clay pots from Nahoums.
The main attraction remains the street food and sweets. You will find these shops at every nook and corner. You can buy a plate of scrumptious Puchkas (pani puri) for `15. And normally they are so tasty, that you just cant stop at one plate. For those with a sweet tooth, the city offers a variety of sweet delicacies. Try Ganguram’s Sandesh in Golpark. The soft gooey sweet just melts in your mouth, leaving you asking for more. The second favourite amongst the locals is Roshgulla. The most famous street food is available in Vivekananda Park and Lake Kalibari area, both in South Kolkata. If you are not into Indian sweets then you can pamper your taste buds at Flurys at Park Street or Cookie Jar on
For an evening with friends or family head to Park street. With the road lined with buildings with a hint of British architecture, Park street has the old rustic look. You can choose from a variety of eateries like Mogambos, Bou la rouge, Trincas, Flurys and Some Place Else in Park Hotel. Right out of a black and white film, Trincas has live music, with a lady in a saree singing old English songs. Some Place Else in Park Hotel remains the main attraction amongst youngsters. You can sit back and choose your drink from a well stacked bar while enjoying the live new bands playing in the background. This club promises an evening you won’t forget.
After a busy day you can head out to the Howrah Bridge for a drive. The bridge that overlooks the Hooghly is illuminated by the tiny lights lining the bridge. One visit to Kolkata doesn’t satiate you, it beckons for more.
Victoria Memorial : is dedicated to Victoria Queen of the United Kingdom. It serves as a museum and a tourist attraction. The building is 184 ft high up to the base of the figure of Victory, which is another 16 ft high. The Memorial is situated on a 64 acres of land with the building covering 338 ft by 228 ft.
■ Fort St William: There are actually two Forts St William, the old and the new. The original was built by the British East India Company under the supervision of John Goldsborough. Sir Charles Eyre started construction near the bank of the River Hooghly with the South-East Bastion and the adjacent walls. John Beard, his successor, added the North-East Bastion in 1701, and in 1702 started the construction of the Government House at the centre of the fort. Construction ended in 1706. The original building had two stories and projecting wings. An internal guard room became the Black Hole of Calcutta.
■ Writers’ Building: It is the secretariat building of the State Government of West Bengal. Today it houses the office of the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The building originally served as the office for writers of the British East India Company, hence the name. Designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777 the Writers’ Building has gone through several extensions over the years. In 1821, 128 long verandah with ionic columns, each 32 feet high, were added on the first and second floor.
■ General Post Office: The site where GPO is located was actually the site of the first Fort William. It is also alleged to be the site of the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta (1756). The office was designed in 1864 by Walter B Grenville.
■ National Library: It is the second largest library in India after the Anna Centenary Library in Chennai. The library is situated on the scenic 30 acre Belvedere Estate, in Kolkata. It houses over 2.2 million books.