Very Rough City Guide – Kolkata
Kolkata is a “City of Joy” in true sense and boasts to be the cultural capital of India as well as the first financial capital of British India. This city was a pivot in the freedom movement. It has a heritage as old as 400 years.
Located on the east bank of the Hooghly river, Kolkata truly holds the essence of the Eastern India. Being a historical city, Kolkata is home to numerous palaces, monuments, and temples bearing architectural significance.
So lets go and ask Sonali more about Kolkata.
Sonali describes herself as, “Bitten by the travel bug for life – madness rules me, life loves me and a wanderlust travel junkie defines me!!! Currently stuck with a corporate job to sustain my travel mania. I plan to travel infinite places in my lifetime, for I realized, that nothing is more rewarding than to gather new experiences and cherish memories. Truly believe that it is better to create memories, than to die with dreams.”
Sai: What are the top things to do in Kolkata?
Sonali: The top things are the ones listed in the next answer, adding to it would be – taking a boat ride on the Ganges, eating on the streets, for Kolkata happens to be a cheap foodie paradise like Delhi, wander through the lanes of North and Central Kolkata for its age old mansions & magnificent architecture since British era, watch a theater at Nandan, grab an opportunity to volunteer at the Missionaries of Charity at Mother House, famous tram ride through Kolkata busy roads (only one has ample time), visit Some Place Else for live music and to witness the party and music scene of Kolkata.
What if someone has only one day in Kolkata?
Well, to be fair, summing up Kolkata in just one day would not be fair enough, with such large cultural and historical heritage it has in store for all travel connoisseurs who wish to visit this amazing age old city. But given just one day, here listed below are some of the places, one can get to have the highlights of the city.
Victoria Memorial Hall, Indian Museum, St Paul Cathredral Church, iconic Howrah Bridge (view from there is amazing), Princep Ghat, Kalighat Temple, Mother House, Eden Gardens stadium (world 3rd most seating capacity stadium), Fort William (Eastern army headquarter base), Jorasanko Thakur Bari (abode of great Rabindranath Tagore), College Street (old book quarters for book worms) with a visit to Indian Coffee House for its glorified “Adda” ambience, Kumartuli in North Kolkata (hub of famous Bengal idol artisans).
Well list can go on .. had to stop it, as this is enough for a day!!
Where can someone find the perfect meal in the city?
I would say each and every corner of Kolkata has something to offer for all kinds of people. Kolkata is a foodie paradise as one can find all ranges of Indian food and international dishes here. It also offers one of the cheapest and tastiest meals one can think off.
Street food like phuchkas (famously known as gol gappe or pani puri), jhal muri (spicy puffed rice tossed in various spices), ghughni ( similar to chick peas curry) , egg/ chicken kathi rolls, singara (samosas) , kachauri, telebhaja (fried pakoras) and also mughlai paratha.
That’s not it, the city shows its true inclusive culture by incorporating chowmein, momos & thupka and also, pav bhaji, chole bhature and south Indian food. All of these, at affordable prices are easily available every-where.
For a hearty meal, one can dig into biriyani from famous Shiraz and Arsalan.
When it comes to dessert, which other city can beat Kolkata because it offers one of the finest sweets for all dessert connoisseurs. Famous being rosogollas, sandesh & chom choms. And all this what I mentioned, comes under Rs. 200 to 300 including all.
What is the best thing about Kolkata?
Like I mentioned before, one would be enthralled to delve into the abode of the great men and women the city has produced.
1. Rabindranath Tagore, the first Nobel Laureate resided at heart of the city, place well etched in the heart of the Bengalis. The place is called Jorasanko.
2. Abode of the pioneer of propagation of Hindu religion to the world, Swami Vivekananda. We still remember his applauding speech at the Chicago central hall. The residence is at Maniktala better known as Vivekananda road.
3. The world knows him as Netaji (Leader) the first Bengali barrister from Britain, stood like a pillar against the British Empire and organised a troop of his own which is better known as “Azad Hind Fauj”. His residence at Bhawanipore depicts the struggle and love for the country.
4. She is known as the mother of the down trodden and the world knows her as Mother Teresa. She got Nobel Peace prize for peace. Her contribution to this city is remarkable and her work directly parables to the title of the city. “The City Of Joy”. Her relics are kept intact by the world famous society called the Missionaries of Charity. Located at Entally in Central Calcutta.
And what about the worst in Kolkata?
Being one the oldest city of the country and with high rate of population, it tends to get a bit congested and noisy for the peace lovers at times. Also the weather which is mostly hot and humid during summers as it is closer to the sea.
I wouldn’t say that being a city which is a bit laid back in terms of work is the worst, but I guess it can only be improved with a little bit of pro-activeness and awareness of the people here. However, just a view.
What is a little known facet about Kolkata…
You often refer to the city as the “City Of Joy”, but did you know its other names “City Of Palaces”, “City Of Processions” and the “Cultural Capital Of India”?
What is your favorite spot in Kolkata?
Sitting by the banks of Ganges (better known as river Hooghly) in the evening at Princep Ghat to watch the sunset.
Oly Pub at park street for its cheap beer and steaks, strolling at Howrah flower market to see the daily activities of the local, morning walk at Rabindra Sarovar park for witnessing sunrise.
Visiting China town for lovely Chinese and oriental cuisines.
On a typical weekend what would you be doing?
To be honest my ideal weekend, would be heading out of Kolkata may be for a drive to Shantiniketan or to the nearby beach like Mondarmoni, Tajpur or Digha.
Otherwise, would love to read books, have a hearty Bengali home-cooked fish meal followed by something which mostly all Bengali loves to do, an afternoon nap.
Occasionally, visit a theater or a musical concert which keeps happening around my cultural city.
To know more about Sonali, visit her blog.