Kolkata is often misunderstood as a chaotic city, lost in the reminiscence of a glorious past. It will be fair to say that it is a city which you not only visit but feel it within yourself. As a 350-year-old metropolis and former capital of British India, Kolkata has retained the colonial flavor along with making space for the rapidly growing urban skyline. In order to understand Kolkata during your stay, you need to begin from the beginning.
Colonial Calcutta Chronicles
The history of Calcutta began with Job Charnock’s arrival. He unified the fishing villages of Sutanuti, Gobindapur, and Kalikata in 1960 and established the trading base of British India. The city grew in leaps and bounds after this and was made into the capital of British Empire. The colonial history has left back some great monuments and edifices in Indian cities. We were smitten by the architectural gems during the Mumbai Heritage walk in Maharashtra state similarly in Kolkatta (previously Calcutta) the capital of West Bengal state of India Architectural marvels like the Writer’s Building, Victoria Memorial Hall, Fort William, Indian Museum will definitely put you into a time warp. It is said that the plan of the underground metro was a blueprint by the British to replicate London Underground.
A Rendezvous on Revolutionary Grounds
Kolkata’s tryst with politics has been a constant reminder of the rich political affiliations that the people share among themselves. As history states, Bengal was the epicenter of the Swadeshi movement. It produced more violent movements against the British rule since the Sepoy Mutiny than any other province. So the politics in Bengal has been dominated by anti-establishment since the British period. The rise of Naxalite movement and the communist uprising suggests that Kolkata is a city of ideologies.
You can visit places like BBD Bagh, the Elgin Road residence of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Presidency University, the entire stretch of College Square to revisit those days of rebellion.
The 70mm Affair
Kolkata is a city of passion. Be it for film, music, art, theater or football, when it comes to the culture of the city you have to visit the landmarks like Bishop Lefroy Road residence of Satyajit Ray, Academy of Fine Arts, Nandan. If you want a taste of the current scene of the art and culture then you need to make a stop at University of Calcutta campus in College Street or Jadavpur University campus. You will be surprised to see old and the new, the past and the present, come together in unexpected ways and create a vibrant culture that manifests itself in the city’s many passions.
An Ode to the Lunchbox
Do you want your taste buds to dance to the tune of mustard and liberate them to the silken glory of rosogolla or mishti doi? Don’t you worry? Kolkata has got it covered. Have a taste of authentic Bengali cuisine from legendary restaurants like Oh! Calcutta, Kewpie’s or Bhojohori Manna. Spend your evenings while gorging on Kathi rolls, or grab a plate of luscious Kolkata Biryani from Arsalan. Walk down the Park Street area to be a part of the nightlife as the city drowns itself in neon light. To satiate your sweet tooth dessert shops like Mouchak, Bancharam, Balaram Mallick will be at your rescue. For other culinary experiences, hop on a tram and visit the street food haven at areas like Gariahat, Deshapriya Park to tickle your senses with delectable chats, phuchka and much more.
Home and the World
Visiting Kolkata is not a piece of cake. It is a city dotted with history, singing a tales of a time far away and yet trying its best to match up to the changing times. You will have to run from one corner of the city to another in search of these treasured memories that the city has tucked away in its crevices. It is advisable that you select your accommodation wisely when you visit Kolkata. The southern part of Kolkata is more convenient due to its connectivity with other parts of Kolkata. From luxury hotels to budget hotels, everything is within your reach. If you are planning to stay within budget but cannot compromise with the services offered then Treebo in Kolkata will be your best friend. With quality amenities, free wi-fi, complimentary breakfast, and situated at convenient locations all around the city, Treebo promises great hospitality while you visit the ‘city of joy’. Booking.com also offers a wide range of accommodation options.
Confessions of A Shopaholic
Your trip to Kolkata will be an incomplete affair if you do not shop at the chaotic but mesmerizing markets in the city. Hop on the yellow taxi and travel to New Market or Gariahat to lose yourself in the street shopping paradise. From cotton fabric to junk jewelry, you name it and these shopping destinations will have them. Kolkata also has swanky shopping malls where you can shop high brand souvenirs. If you are a voracious reader, stroll down the lanes of college street and browse old and new books.
There is much more to explore within the city as you go for aimless walks in the alleyways of Kolkata. It is a city for wanderers and you will take back a feeling of complete frenzy when you return. Don’t be disappointed since You will come back to the ‘city of joy’ for more.