LIFE IN KOLKATA : THE CITY OF JOY

In Kolkata, Travel Guides
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Sunset

Why is KOLKATA, INDIA called the city of Joy?

Yellow Ambassador Taxi

Kolkata is the capital of the state of West Bengal, India.

The residents of Kolkata will all widely agree that their city is aptly named the city of Joy. Whether you casually walk down the busy streets of Kolkata or hop into the trademark yellow Ambassador taxi to travel around the city, there is an undeniable charm that the city emits – an old-school charm with it’s rustic old buildings, the tram lines that run through the city, architecture from the British era and the local people sitting outside tea shops, having their daily conversations (called Adda in the local language, Bengali). The people of the city, mostly dominated by Bengalis are friendly and will take a minute out of their busy schedules and offer assistance, if needed. The warmth of the city is reflected through its local people as well.

shopkeeper mother and her son

Who should ideally visit Kolkata?

Kolkata is the perfect city to visit for those who want to take a break from their busy lives and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle of the city. The city is devoid of the usual hustle and bustle associated with other metro cities of India making it the perfect holiday getaway. The city is also rich in art and architecture, courtesy of the fact that it was the capital of India, during the British rule. If you are interested in seeing the architecture which has a heavy British influence, you can take a guided walk along the Dalhouise Area which has most of the old colonial structures. It was because of this that the city was previously called the City of Palaces.

Dalhousie Area or Square

What to visit in Kolkata?

Victoria memorial with it's greenery

For those who love Art and Architecture:

  • Victoria Memorial – Beautiful large gardens surround Victoria Memorial which has a museum inside. Visit this for its stunning scenic beauty as well as the horse-driven carriage rides that take place in front of it.
  • Indian Museum – India’s oldest museum with fine displays of art and historic relics.  Perfect for the History lovers.
  • Birla Planetarium – A unique shaped building that uses the dome ceiling as a projector and various space films are projected.
  • Writer’s building – The secretariat building.
  • Howrah Bridge – Suspended Bridge that is over the Hooghly River.
  • St Paul’s Cathedral – Anyone can visit, anytime and is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows and frescoes.
  • General Post Office – Also has a museum with an extensive collection of stamps, for any hobbyist interested.
  • Raj Bhavan – Residence of the Governor of West Bengal.
  • Kolkata Town Hall
  • National Library – Largest Library in India, any book you need, you’re sure to find here!

For bonus architecture, during the visit book hotel rooms at the Oberoi Grand Hotel which is a stunning display of Colonial architecture as well as being located in the heart of the city.

Church

For people with other interests:

Princep ghat by the Hoogly river

  • Princep Ghat – The banks of the River Hooghly that passes through Kolkata offer a calm environment for strolls alongside the river as well as ferry rides with a stunning view of the Howrah Bridge.
  • Eden Garden and Salt Lake stadium – For lovers of cricket and football as matches takes place in these stadiums.
  • Kalighat – The Kalighat temple is one of the most famous temples of Kolkata with many devotees going there everyday to pray to Hindu Goddess Kali, the goddess of Power.
  • Dakshinapan – To shop for local goods like traditional clothes, jewelry, handicrafts etc.
  • New Market – This is a must visit to witness the hustle and bustle of the otherwise calm city. Also everything you need, you will find in New Market – from clothing to baking goods to electronic devices.
  • Alipore Zoo – No matter the age, no one can resist a fun day at the zoo!
  • Nicco Park, Science City, Aquatica – Amusement Parks.
  • Botanical Gardens – For beautiful flower and plant display and a famous Great Banyan tree, with flower competitions often held.

Shops in Dakshinapan

What is the best time to visit Kolkata?

Idol of Goddess Durga

The best time to visit Kolkata is undoubtedly during the festival of Durga Puja, which is Kolkata’s biggest festival by far. The entire city comes to life for the 5-day  (stretches into more) festival.  The festival is to worship the Goddess Durga, Goddess of Strength. There are uncountable Pandals (temporary temples for worship) set up and they all have various different themes.  There are almost two pandals set up on every street, so the number really is indefinite. The streets are adorned with fairy lights and numerous food stalls are set up offering the popular local dishes.  People take to roaming the city the whole day and night and even at 3 A.M in the morning, there are so many people on the streets as well as so much light and energy all around that it is hard to differentiate between day and night. Some of the pandals that are set up in parks even have Ferris wheels and Carousels much to the joy of young children.The best way to commute during this time, is by foot so as to be able to see majority of the Pandals and idols. The idols are also made in various creative ways to interest the people. Preparation for the festival starts months ago, with people buying new clothes to wear, as is the custom and also setting up of the pandals which is an elaborate affair. Finally in the month of October, Durga Puja arrives; and that is the best time to visit Kolkata in all of her glory!

Arati

What to eat in Kolkata?

Sweets

Kolkata is paradise for every foodie. Food from every cuisine is available in the city, but the local cuisine is the Bengali cuisine which has delicious dishes centered on different kinds of fish.   Some famous Bengali dishes are Paturi (fish preparation), Posto (poppy seeds), Chingri er malaikari (Prawn in a special gravy), Sorsebata Ilish maach (fish preparation), Begun bhaja (fried eggplant) and more. The standout item in Kolkata is the desert. Kolkata is famous for mainly two deserts, one is Roshogolla  (a type of sugar dumpling) and Mishti doi (sweetened curd). You should not visit Kolkata without trying these two mouth-watering sweets. Kolkata is also famous for its street food. Also definitely try the Rolls from the street shops, Phuchka from street vendors (very famous),various fries (fish fries are the most popular) and Chaats that are available. Another thing to try is Kolkata Biriyani. (Suggested shops – Arsalan, Zeeshan, Shiraz)

Paanipuri

Kolkata truly is the City of Joy, and anyone who has visited the city can vouch for that.

So when are you booking the next flight to Kolkata?

View of the Howrah Bridge

 

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