The City of Joy is gorgeous. It’s lazy, colourful and drenched in history. It has a lot to offer and if one decides to visit Kolkata, the best time to do so will be the winter season, preferably from late November to early February.
(1) Victoria Memorial– Built between 1906 to 1921, this is an exquisite piece of wonder, made of marble dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. The surrounding greenery is commendable and so are the grand galleries which include amongst many the royal gallery and national leaders’ gallery.
(2) Indian Museum– Kolkata boasts of the oldest and the largest museum in India. Founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1814, it houses rare collections of antiques, fossils, mummies and a wide range of historical paintings and information. The galleries are divided into sections dealing with Archaeology, Art, Geology, Anthropology, Zoology and Botany.
(3) Howrah Bridge– The bridge opened first on February 3rd, 1943. The construction is unique being the sixth longest cantilever bridge in the world. It bears more than lakh vehicles and pedestrians daily. Suspended over the Hooghly River, it is a sight to behold in awe!
(4) St. Paul’s Cathedral– Modelled on the gothic structures, and built in 1847 this Anglican Cathedral is breathtaking. The Victorian architecture and the ethereal interior makes up the perfect combination to herald the Lord himself! The midnight mass on December 25th is again delicately otherworldly.
(5) Maidan– It is the largest urban part in the state of West Bengal. The ground is also known as “Brigade Parade Ground”. Also referred to as the “lungs of Kolkata”, Maidan gifts the metropolis greenery and fresh air and is a favourite with picnickers. With the approach of evening, one sees groups of people coming for a walk on the grass covered Maidan.
(6) Star Theatre– Housed the first Bengali commercial theatre, home to one of the first motion pictures of Bengal, it is the haven for theatre and drama. After being destroyed by a fire, it was restored, maintaining the historical facade but renovating the interiors and turning it into a cinema hall. After 3 pm, the theatre opens its adjoining terrace which doubles up as a cafeteria. It offers a splendid view of the setting sun and the busy tram-car filled streets below.
(7) College Street– This is the booklover’s paradise. Rows of book stalls, smelling of old books adorn both sides of the street. Also known as “Boi Para”(locality of books), name any book here and you are sure to get it. And if you are blessed with the art of bargaining, you may procure your book at half its original price!
(8) Indian Coffee House– Rich in heritage and situated on the first floor of an old building in Central Kolkata, it used to be the hub of intellectuals. The Hall used to be called “Albert Hall” and it was in 1942 that it became a coffee joint. Visit the place, not for the food but to imbibe the atmosphere in and soak in the stories of the poets, artists and literati who were regulars here.
(9) Belur Math– Founded by Swami Vivekananda, this place, spreading over 40 acres, is the epitome of serenity. It should be visited on normal, working days and not on special occasions like Durga Pujas if you want to take pleasure in its aesthetic beauty in solitary. The campus contains temples dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Vivekananda.
(10) Eden Gardens– No sports fanatic would be satisfied without a visit to the Eden Gardens! Witness to scores of notable events in the history of International cricket, the stadium was established in 1864 and currently holds 66, 349 people.
(11) Birla Planetarium– This planetarium has the right to brag about the fact of its being the largest planetarium in Asia and the second largest in the world. It was inaugurated in 1963 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and still hosts shows from 12noon to 7 pm. It houses an impressive astronomical gallery and an observatory.