Kolkata typically known as the “City of Palaces” is an important industrial, cultural and intellectual hub of India. It was the capital of the British regime till 1911. The city lost its status after retaliation for being the center of mass movement against the British Raj which reversed Curzon’s move to partition Bengal. The inland port city of population more than 10 million now is the capital of West Bengal.
The city has the reputation of being country’s most vibrant and friendliest metropolis. Among many other proud distinctions the city has produced to the Nobel Laureates Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, CV Raman, Gunter Grass, Mother Teresa, Amartya Sen.
The city is located between the tip of the Ganges delta which flows into the Bay of Bengal and the eastern bank of the massive Hooghly tributary. An architectural masterpiece, Howrah Bridge connects the city to industrial township on the other end .
In the year 2000, The city abandoned its British roots by changing the name ‘Calcutta’ to ‘Kolkata’ . Kolkata- word derived from the name Kalikshetra or in other words the seat of Goddess Kali.
CLIMATE AND ACCESS:
The weather of Kolkata remains temperate throughout year thus attracting a lot of tourists around the year.
Kolkata is well connected by rail and air to some of the major Indian cities. The local ferry service ‘Tram’ connects various part of the city and provide an easy way to otherwise heavy traffic congestion on road during peak hours.
EXCURSIONS AND SIGHT SEEING AROUND THE CITY:
MP BIRLA PLANETARIUM:
It is located on the eastern side of the Maidan in the Chowringhee area of Kolkata. The planetarium being the largest in the world and a great place for a bit of respite from the otherwise crowded streets of Kolkata.
The place originally designed by Fort Williams with huge expanse of green space constitute the lungs of Kolkata.Th place located in the heart of the city comprises of a vast green park popular among joggers, morning walkers and cyclists. It also caters to many of Kolkata’s sporting clubs tent offices.
Popularly known as the home ground of IPL team ‘Kolkata Knight Riders’, it is a must visit place for an ardent cricket fan. During British empire ,it used be a lush green area covered by trees and gardens. The area also has a small Burmese Pagoda set in a small lake. In the western side of the garden is walking path along the Hooghly river. On the South of the garden is a zoo and a Horticultural garden.
The place located on the banks of the River Hooghly can be accessed by crossing the river. It was created by Col. Alexander of East India Company during British Raj in July 1786 for a pleasure retreat. The gardens boasts of an area sprawling over 272 acres of land. It houses over 35,000 different varieties of flora and fauna. However, The main attraction of the place is Banyan tree around 250 years old with one of the widest canopies in the world and the gigantic leaves of the Victoria Amazonica Lily.
The grand white marble building with its tree lined walks, splendid parks , lakes and superb statues including that of Queen Victoria reminds of the British raj and is a treasure trove of Raj relics including a piano which is believed to be of Queen Victoria and she used to play it when she was a young girl.
The place inaugurated by the Prince of Wales in 1921 was planned by Lord Curzon and built in Italian Renaissance cum Saracenic style.
The original temple is believed to have been built some 350 years ago. The mythological belief is that when Sati, Lord Shiva’s consort, was destroyed by the Sudharshan Chakra, one of her fingers fell here. It is a great pilgrimage site of the Hindus and is situated at Kalighat by the side of Tolly’s Nullah.
A fantastic piece of architecture, The Marble Palace, Rajendra Malik is located in North Kolkata. It was formerly called the Palace of Arts and was named Marble palace by Lord Minto. A part of the extensive baroque garden was devoted to a menagerie of birds and animals. The place also has a huge collection of artefacts.
Shantiniketan- ‘The abode of peace’, the living place of Bengal’s revered poet writer, artist and nationalist Rabindranath Tagore. The peaceful town located 200 km northwest of Kolkata is famed for its Vishvabharati University.
SUNDERBANS WILDLIFE SANCTUARY:
The Sunderbans wildlife sanctuary lying to the south of Kolkata is situated where Ganga with its innumerable tributaries form the largest delta of the world, The Sunderbans Delta. The vast mangrove swamp is a world heritage site stretching well into Bangladesh.
The place ids accessible only by waterways. Motor launch facilities are available throughout the year.
VICTORIA MEMORIAL MUSEUM:
The museum includes the Calcutta gallery and National Leaders gallery with exhibits on the rich history of Kolkata and its various political and social leaders. The museum has rich collection of Company paintings and several original paintings of the Daniells.
The place located on Jawahar Lal Road houses priceless prehistoric artefacts and modern treasures. Built in 1878 in a Italian style as a grand building to house its collection.The main highlights of this museum is its rich collection of many fossils – a 4000 year old Egyptian mummy, a gallery dedicated to meteors and meteorites and Mughal ruler Shahjahan’s emerald cap.
Kolkata’s oldest municipal market, New Market offers leather goods , plastic toys, fancy silverware , jewellery, garments, fabric , confectionery, clothing, Dry fruits, poultry products, fish, meat, flowers and many more.
College is a great place to bargain for books. Dakshinapan Market houses most of the government emporia. The place is famous for its handlooms, textiles, handicrafts, cosmetics, jewellery, fancy goods, objects d’art etc.
In all Kolkata is a must visit place for tourists and it would never leave one disappointed.
- By Bhavya Bhatia