One word about Kolkata, it’s busy! And you’d never expect which sudden turn would reveal a stunning Victorian structure with incredible historic importance.
The streets here tell gripping tales of the colonial era when this city set on Hooghly river was the capital of India during the British Raj. Today a powerhouse of arts, it reeks of old monuments, a cosmopolitan vibe and a comfortable chaos. As you traverse this city, here are a few checkpoints that give you a glimpse into the imperial era along with a flavour of its culture and traditions.
Travel through history as you visit the exquisite Victoria Memorial, dedicated to Queen Victoria, built under the leadership of Lord Curzon. An architectural blend of Mughal and British styles, this white memorial museum houses 25 galleries and contains various artifacts. Roam inside the stunning St Paul's Cathedral and visit the excellent India Museum, housing one of the world's finest collections of Indian art.
The Howrah Bridge
Synonymous with the city of Kolkata, the sixth longest cantilever bridge connects Howrah to Kolkata. It was originally built to replace an older pontoon bridge on the Hooghly river and was later renamed as Rabindra Setu, after the Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore.
A country that considers Cricket as a religion, welcome to Eden Gardens, India’s largest cricket ground often called a cricket colosseum and enjoys a distinct fanfare. Being the 3rd largest in the world, it is one of the most iconic cricket grounds, and is said to host crowds whose spirit is like nowhere else in the world.
Belur Math and Dakshineshwar
When the young Swami Vivekananda went to America to participate in World’s Religion Conference in Chicago, the country’s soul was hitherto unknown to the world. Swami Vivekananda presented the original India to the West and later came back to India gaining tremendous popularity and opened the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission, naming it after his Guru, an 18th century mystic, Sri Ramakrishna. The twin voluntary organizations work tirelessly for humanity and social causes, and are headquartered in Belur, a little away from Kolkata. It hosts the magnificent Universal temple of Sri Ramakrishna, which is a unique blend of architecture influenced by Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.
You can also enjoy a 30-minute boat ride, to the famous Kali temple of Dakshineswar, a stunning 9-minaret temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. One finds peace of mind and a sense of calm within these temple walls.
Usually plumed with the notion that Delhi aces the race when it comes to Indian street food, you will be pleasantly surprised to sample the gorgeous street-food buffet in Kolkata. The ‘Kathi’ rolls popular all over India originated in Kolkata, and the skewer-roasted soft delicious kabab wrapped around a flaky paratha melts in your mouth and leaves behind a flurry of flavours. This, and a bunch of other dishes originating from different parts of India but served in the city with its own rendition makes it worthy of a king’s palate. Be it the succulent Momos (dumplings) or Jhalmurii (spiced puffed rice), Puchkas (round crisps filled with potatoes and savoury water) or Bread-egg, the city surprises you with its abundant taste.
What more… the mustard steamed fish and a host of restaurants lined up inside the lanes of Park Street, will tingle your taste buds forever.
The Mother’s House
Established in 1950 by Mother’s Teresa, the Mother’s House is the headquarters of Missionaries of Charities. Known to serve the needy all through her life, she is an example of tremendous dedication towards the society. A recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Tereasa lived, prayed and worked at this house and rests here too.
Despite being over populated, Kolkata is filled with many captivating treasures of the past and present and exudes a charm very hard to ignore!