Very Rough City Guide to Kolkata

For some people Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), is the city of joy, while some people term it as a noisy and chaotic city. Whatever, if you are looking for travel advice or travel tips when traveling in Kolkata, keep reading.

This is the second in the series of Very Rough City Guides, where we ask locals to tell us about their city. Today we talk to Shounak Ray about his city Kolkata.

Durga Puja
Durga Puja

How do you sum up Kolkata? The city of joy indeed, Kolkata, can be broadly divided into two parts – North Kolkata and South Kolkata. While the North part holds the old world charm of the city, the Southern half boasts about the ever growing metropolitan with flyovers, skyscrapers and shopping malls. There is something for everyone, you may enjoy an evening on the banks of the river Ganges or have some fun at the water parks like Aquatica. Kolkata is often considered as the culture capital of India and rightly so. You can find eminent writers, musicians, film directors, actors from this city. The youngsters here are still interested about Rabindranath Tagore’s songs , theater and their own culture. Food is another highlight of the city, you can find several cuisines and at affordable rates too.The Durga Puja held in the month of October generally is celebrated all over the city and worth a visit definitely, winter months are good too with favorable weather, fairs and events. To experience something unique, Kolkata would be a choice, it has old British colonial architecture and even something for the urban city dwellers. For nature lovers Kolkata has well maintained parks. One can take trips from here to the beautiful seasides of Digha (180 km distance from Kolkata) or the famous hill station Darjeeling ( 647 km).

Victorial Memorial in Kolkata
Victorial Memorial in Kolkata

If someone has only one day in Kolkata…. Start with a nice walk from the Maidan, to the famous green meadow and to the  adjoining race course. Visit the iconic Victoria Memorial, then on to St.Paul’s Cathedral which is walking distance from the city center, take a metro and on to Esplanade, buy some souvenirs from the Hoggs Market and take a tram to College street which is one of the biggest and well known book market in the world, boasting of rare editions of some book at unbelievable rates. Come to Ballygunge and have a proper Bengali meal at 6 Ballygunge place or Bhojohori Manna and go to the famous Kalighat  Temple. Move on to Outram ghat or Babu ghat in the evening and enjoy the  river Ganges, take a launch ride and click some pics of the Howrah Bridge… Take a cab and reach Park Street. You may hit a famous nightclub like , Underground or Tantra or the pub “Some Place Else ” famous for its live band performances. End the day with some awesome Biriyani from Arsalan.

Top things to do in Kolkata? Try  local  food, go to some historical places, visit Kumartuli the place the famous clay idols are made, visit the National Museum and National Library, The Alipore Zoo (largest zoo in Asia), visit the College Street Book Market. Take a tram ride which is only available here and no where in Asia.

Where can someone find the perfect meal in the city? Bhojohori Manna, Kewpies or 6 Bally Gunge Place for Bengali food; Flurys for bakery; Mainland China for Chinese; Arsalaan for Biriyani; also one needs to get a taste of the Bengali sweets like Rasmalai and Kheer.

Bengali Sweets
Bengali Sweets

What is the best thing about Kolkata? Diversity in culture and structure, the food is brilliant, the people are warm and friendly.

What is the worst? Traffic  jams are very frustrating,  waterlogged streets at few places during  monsoon, and the weather is terribly hot and humid during summer.

A little known fact about Kolkata…. Kolkata has the most number of Hindu temples in India. Even many locals do not know the fact that Kolkata was formed by joining three adjacent villages Kolikata, Sutaniti and  Gobindapur.

Your favorite spot in Kolkata is…. College street, Esplanade area and Gariahaat Market.

On a typical weekend what would you be doing? Hangout with friends and family, watch a Bengali or Hindi movie, make a visit to the historical sites or an amusement park, eat out at a restaurant and enjoy the Digha beach.

Photo Credits.