Kolkata (Formerly known as Kolkata - the founding name of the city)
Kolkata, on the Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving the past and the present, the intense and the funloving into a charming fabric. Home to four Nobel laureates - Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen, Kolkata is the nerve centre of intellect and human values, where many modern movements began in art, cinema and theatre, science and industry. India"s quest for freedom began here.
Kolkata is the gateway to Eastern India. A city with a rich heritage, bustling streets and bewildering variety of facets. From October to March, Kolkata wears a radiant look. Sunshine, mild winter, lights, colours, fairs, festivals, galas and excursions, the mood is infectious and spirit sweeping.
Although the name Kalikata had been mentioned in the rent-roll of the Great Mughal emperor Akbar and also in Manasa-Mangal, to explore the history of Kolkata, we have to go back to the 17th century. It was in 1690 that Job Charnock of the East India Company came to the bank of the river Hooghly and took the lease of the three villages- Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kolikata (Kolkata) as a trading post of British East India Company. The city became famous in 1756, when Siraj-Ud-Dawlah, the last independent nawab of Bengal, captured the city. But the British regained their power in 1757 and the city was recaptured under Robert Clive. Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, made it the seat of the supreme courts of justice and the supreme revenue administration, and Kolkata became the capital of British India in 1772. By 1800 Kolkata had become a busy and flourishing town, the center of the cultural as well as the political and economic life of Bengal.
Kolkata City Area 187.33 sq km.
Kolkata Metropolitan District Area 1380.12 sq km
Population : 4.39 million (Kolkata city)
9.2 million (CMD)
Altitude : 6.4 metres (20 ft.) above sea level.
SummerMax. 36.30CMin. 9.60C
WinterMax. 41.70CMin. 38.10C
Rainfall: 1581 mm
Best Season : October to March.
Clothing : Cotton in summer and light woollen in winter.
Air: Kolkata is well connected to major international & domestic airports. The international Netaji Subhash Airport (Dum Dum Airport) is 20 kms from the city. Most of the domestic airlines have direct services to and from Kolkata-Kolkata to other important cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, etc.
Rail: Kolkata is served by two railway station, Haora (Howrah) and Sealdah and is connected to major cities all over the country.
Road: Kolkata is connected by an extensive network of national highways with major cities and towns. Buses generally depart from the Esplanades bus stand area at the northern end of the Maidan near Chowringhee Road. But there are a number of private companies, which have their own stands. Buses to and from the South generally use the bus stand near Fort William at Babu Ghat.
PLACE OF INTEREST
South Park Street Cemetery
This cemetery is situated at the Park Street. It was constructed in 1767 to accommodate the large number of the British people who died for their country. There are many heavily inscribed head stones, pyramids, urns and obelisks. The tombs of Col Kyd , Sir Thomas D"Oyly, the British Member of Parliament in early 18th century and Sir Willam Jones, the founder of Botanical Garden and the great oriental scholar can be seen here.
This is one of India"s most beautiful monuments built between 1906 and 1921 on the lines of white marble. It stands on the southern side of the maidan (ground) near Jawaharlal Nehru Road. All monuments of this memorial were designed in Italian Renaissance-Mughal style and build of white marble from Rajasthan. The memorial was the inspiration of Lord Curzon, who in 1901, felt that his lately departed Queen Empress, required a suitable monument to her memory. It took 20 years to build at a cost of 10 million rupees. The Prince of Wales formally inaugurated it in 1921. Set in beautiful garden grounds, the Victoria Memorial houses a large bronze statue of the Queen Empress Topped with a moving angel this memorial faces the Kolkata Maidan. The statues of Motherhood, Prudence, Learning, Art, Justice, Architecture and Charity are brought from Italy. It also has a 5 meter tall bronze winged figure of Victory, weighing 3 tons. It houses paintings, manuscripts, and other objects of historic value in its Museum and Art Gallery. Two regular sound and light shows are held in the evening. It is Open March to October from 1000 to 1630 and November to February from 1000 - 1530. Closed on Mondays.
St. Paul"s Cathedral
St. Paul"s Cathedral is 3 km from BBD Bagh. The Cathedral measures 71m. in length 24m. in width the spire rising 60m. high. The interior has exquisite scriptural scenes. Above these are the two Florentine frescos. In the centre of the eastern sector is the magnificent alter piece. The massive gold-gilt plate presented by Queen Victoria to Bishop Wilson, and the western windows are of special interest. The candlelight service on Christmas eve is a moving experience.
The Cathedral was founded in 1797. The building cost for the Portuguese Cathedral was borne by two Portuguese noble- men. The entrance leading to the portico is paved with gravestones. Behind the altar, there are the figures of Madonna and Child. The remains of the first archbishop of Kolkata lie below the altar.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
It is situated alongside the Vivekananda Bridge north of Kolkata, about 20 km. from BBD Bagh. It is famous for its association - with Ramkrishna who achieved spiritual vision here. Rani Rashmoni built this temple in 1847. The 12- spired temple with its enormous courtyard is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a world famous place of pilgrimage. It was here the famous religious thinker Rama Krishna Paramahamsa achieved his spiritual vision and preached the unity of all religions.
This Jain temple is situated at the Badridas Temple street. The temple is dedicated to Sitalnathji, the 10th of the 24 Jain tirthankaras (perfect soul). Its structure has mirror-inlay pillars, the windows made of stained glass and the marble floor has a floral design. The dome of the temple is gilded. The chandeliers here were brought from Paris and Brussels in the 19th century. Its garden has blocks of glass mosaics and European statues, painted with silver paint.
It is considered to be an engineering marvel, which took six years to construct in the 1940s. Over 2,590 metric tonnes of high tensile steel make up this unique cantilever bridge that joins the main Railway Station (for Kolkata) and the industrial city of Howrah with the city of Kolkata. Supported by two piers, each nearly 90 meters in height above the road level, the bridge has a span of almost 500 meters (no pillars in the middle). It was opened in 1943 and today it is one of the busiest bridges in the world. It is the third largest bridge in the world, has around 2 million people crossing over it daily. Visible from many places in Kolkata, the bridge is called "Rabindra Setu".
This shrine is situates at eh Belur Road, Howrah. Belur Math is the international headquarters of Ramkrishna Mission which is 16.5 km from Dakshineswar across the Ganga. It is founded in 1899 by Swami Vivekananda, the world famous yogi and disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. This International tourist attraction is located near Belur in Howrah district. Its sprawling prayer hall with a statue of Ramakrishna is remarkable. The Belur Math shrine represents a church, mosque and temple when viewed from different angles. Its peaceful and calm atmosphere is befitting the gravity of the place.
Timing: 6.30 a.m. - 12 noon, 3.30-6.30 p.m. daily. Admission free.
Marble Palace is located on C R Avenue in north Kolkata at Muktaram Babu Street. Raja Rajendra Mullick Bahadur constructed this palace in 1835. Italian marble was lavishly used to complete its construction. This palace set behind a large lawn has the sculptures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Hindu Gods, the Buddha and Christopher Columbus. A large pool near the small granite bungalow has ducks, peacocks and ostriches. The rooms have hundreds of statues and oriental urns. The walls of these rooms are covered with enormous paintings and mirrors. Gigantic chandeliers hang on its ceilings. The lamps on the stair cases are detailed creations. Entry - free (you must get a pass from the West Bengal Tourist office 24 hours in advance) Visit : on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Monday and Thursday are holidays. Opens from 1000 to 1600.
Wholesale flower market
In the early morning this market fills with colourful flowers from the northern part of Kolkata. You can see flowers everywhere in this market on the ground, on people"s head, in carts and trucks and on display. By 700 the market start winding down and by 800 the entire sale is over.
It is at Chitpur Road. Many Kumars or potters work here to create millions of clay images that serve as idols for Kolkata"s never-ending season of festivals.
BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square)
It is locates just south of Howrah Bridge. Dalhousie Square, which is renamed after Three Martyrs of Bengal, Binay, Badal & Dinesh was created in the heart of the imperial capital of Kolkata. The tank in the centre, fed by natural springs, is said to have supplied Charnock with drinking water. There are many historical buildings, which surround the square. The northern side is occupied by Writers" Building. To the east are commercial houses and the West Bengal Government Tourist Bureau. On the southern side is Raj Bhavan, residence of the Governor. Beside that are the State Legislative Assembly House and the Kolkata High Court. St John"s Cathedral, which close to Raj Bhavan is the oldest church in Kolkata. On the western side is the imposing white domed General Post Office, next to which is the Reserve Bank of India building. Netaji Subhash Road is the centre of the onetime English commercial houses, which today flourish in Indian hands. Lyon"s Range stock exchange, behind Clive Street, is worth a visit for a glimpse of the frenzied dealing in shares, periodically erupting onto the street.
It is situated on the east bank of the river Hooghly and was named after King William III of England. It is surrounded by a 50ft high moat. It was built in 1757 after Robert Clive"s victory at Plassey over Siraj ud-Daula. This fort was completed to prevent attacks from Muslim invaders. The fort walls, barracks, stables and the church of St. Peter are still intact. The area cleared around Fort William became the Maidan. In the fort, there is a church, market, post and telegraph office, cinema, swimming pool, boxing stadium, football and firing range. The Arsenal inside is worth visiting for which a prior permission is required from the Commanding Officer.
This mosque is at Mahatma Gandhi Road. Visit : Daily from Sunrise to 2000. Entry - free. Massive red sandstones were used to built this mosque. This huge mosque can hold upto 10000 worshippers. This mosque was built in 1926. It has two minarets 46 m high and an onion - shaped dome.
It is at J.L. Nehru Road. This 148 ft pillar stands on the north end of the Maidan. It commemorates the victory of Sir David Ochterlony in Nepal. Its peculiarity is that its cupola is build in Turkish style, the column in Syrian style and the base in Egyptian style.
Nirmal Hirday (Pure Heart)
It is the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity situated at 54 A A. J.C.Bose Road. It was Mother Teresa"s first home for serving destitute and dying people. Now this organization has spread worldwide. This organization is taking care of the people abandoned by society.
Santiniketan was founded by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore. In 1901 Rabindranath Tagore started an experimental place of learning with a "class room" under the trees, and a group of five pupils. This classroom that he started later became the "Vishva Bharati University in 1921. This university attracts pupil from all over the world and aspires to be a spiritual meeting ground in a serene environment. It has the faculties in all major disciplines like humanities, agriculture, cottage industries, Indian Music and Drama, performing arts, Philosophy, Sanskrit and art. An interesting feature of this university is that the sculptures, paintings, murals and frescoes are found around the campus. It has the paintings of Rabindranath and Nandalal Bose and sculptures of Ramkinkar.
The Metro system or the Under ground Railway Network in Kolkata started about 20 years ago. It is very clean and run efficiently. It starts from Tollygunge to Central station in Tiretta. It is the only under ground railway in India. Government is planning to expand the system and connect it with the Dum Dum Airport.
Academy of Fine Arts
It is a site of visual arts and Bengali theatre, situated near Victoria Memorial. It is established in 1933. It"s permanent galleries include medieval Bengali and Indian miniature paintings, textiles and excellent specimens of old hand-woven Daccai and Baluchari saris. A Jamini Roy collection and Desmond Doig"s pen and ink sketches of Kolkata"s nostalgic landmark, are also on view. Local theatre and dance programs are performed in a hall, which has a stage. The Rabindra gallery contains paintings and manuscripts of the great man of letters. Its galleries are open daily from 3 PM to 8 PM (except the Rabindra Gallery - 12PM to 6 PM daily, closed on Mondays).
Science City, which is located on Kolkata"s Eastern Metropolitan By Pass, is an area of knowledge and adventure. This 21st Century marvel of science, communication and environment is the first and only institution of it"s kind in India and has a Space Theatre. The main attraction of the Science City is the Space Flight, Dinosaurs Alive, Dynamotion, Life in Water, a world of Insects and Reptiles, walkthrough Aviary, Butterfly corner, Convention Centre, four seminar halls, Mini Auditorium, Musical fountain etc. This convention centre complex has a 2215 person capacity main auditorium, 40 capacity mini auditorium and 8 seminar halls. It is open to public every day from 9 AM to 9 PM (Even on public holidays).
It is located on Asutosh Chowdhury Avenue. It is the latest addition to the places of visit in Kolkata. It wad Build over twenty-two years of painstaking labour; it is an all-marble structure with very high quality rajasthani engravings. It attracts huge crowds and is splendid and imposing structure in white.
It is the most visible center of wholesale and retail trade in Kolkata. It is a bewildering medley of crowds and merchandise. The businessmen who operate here care nothing for appearances. It is situated to the north of B.B.D.Bagh, the place is accessible on foot from B.B.D. Bagh or by any bus going towards Howrah from B.B.D. Bagh.
It is situated at old post office street; near Eden Gardens.It is the highest seat of judiciary in West Bengal with tower of 54 metres height. It is one of the oldest buildings in India (constructed in 1872 by Walter Granville, the then architect to the Government of India.). It is built in the Gothic style of architecture, a later extension retaining the same architectural symmetry.
It is an artificial lake in Ballygunge, which is in South Kolkataon Southern Avenue. It comprises a rowing club, safari garden children"s park and play center (lily pool) an open-air theatre Mukta Manch, swimming pool training Centres, etc.
Eden Gardens Stadium
Alongside the Eden Gardens is the world famous Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium. The stadium is supposed to be the largest in Asia with a seating capacity of more than lakh spectators. It was one of the first cricket stadiums in India where floodlights were installed and Day & Night cricket was played. The gigantic electronic scoreboard is also one of its kinds in the country. The stadium has had the privilege of hosting the most important of matches like World Cup Finals 1987, World Cup Semi Finals 1996, Hero Cup and many other tournaments.
Nalban Boating Complex
It is located at the heart of Salt Lake City, just 12 Km away from the Central Kolkata. It is a beautiful picnic spot for families, who would like to spend few hours in the quiet greenery, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It"s unpolluted environment offers a soothing effect to the visitors. The Main attraction of this place is the four hundred acre picturesque lake with various kinds of boating facilities like paddle boats, shikaras etc.
The Sir Hogg Market better known as New Market is arguably one of Kolkata"s best shopping center. Designed by an East Indian Railway Company Architect, it was opened in 1874 & named after the commissioner, Sir Stuart Hogg. Earlier it had a garden with a silvery fountain & benches for tired shoppers. Today, it continues to be a premier shopping area despite a part of it being burnt down in late 1985. Its red brick Gothic clock tower bears testimony to past grandeur. Linen to cakes, fruits to fish, all & sundry is available in wide choice & price. There are 2000 stalls and the remarkable feature of these stalls is that they are arranged merchandise wise i.e. there are rows of stalls dealing with one particular line of goods.
It is now the residence of the Governor was once the residence of the Governor-General of India. Based on an idea of the then Governor-General, Marquis of Wellesley, the building was modeled to resemble Lord Curzon"s ancestral home - Kedleston Hall. It is situated in a fine enclosure of 6 acres standing back of the Maidan. The throne of Tipu Sultan is inside the building and the room where it is placed is called the "Throne room". The splendid ballroom whose floor is of polished teak is also worth seeing.
This 165 ft high monument similar to Qutab Minar of Delhi was erected by public subscription in 1828, to honour Sir David Ochter Lony, a one- time resident of Malwa & Rajputana. More recently, it has now been renamed "Shaheed Minar" to honour the martyrs of the freedom struggle. An important landmark in Kolkata. It is located at the Northern end of the Maidan.
Salt Lake Stadium
Salt Lake Stadium also known as Yuba Bharati Krirangan, is situated approximately 10 km. from the city centre.It has a seating capacity of 1,25,000 Persons and is elliptical in shape. The roof is made of strong flow-coat tubes and aluminium sheets. There are two electronic score boards and control rooms. The lighting is uniformly distributed to enable sports by night. There are special arrangements for TV board casting.
Vidyasagar Setu is a modern day engineering marvel and is the largest cable stayed bridge in Asia. Near the Race Course, It is the imposing and ultra-modern Second Hoogly Bridge. The bridge connects the twin cities of Kolkata and Howrah. It was inaugurated in the year 1992. It was built at a cost of Rs. 388 crores. It is capable of handling around, 85,000 vehicles daily on 9 lanes. A beautiful bridge that spans the Hooghly, it has been built to ease the load off existing Howrah Bridge. It affords a panoramic view of the Kolkata skyline.
This was, till the mid - 19th century, the place of residence for the junior servants (who were called writers of the East India Company). The original building was constructed in 1770 on the same site as the present one, but it was plain stuccoes and with no pretensions to architectural beauty. The present Gothic structure built during the tenure of Lt. Governor Ashley Eden (1877) is much more imposing than the original ever was. Situated at the northern end of Dalhousie Square, it now houses the Secretariat of West Bengal Government.
It is about 2 km from BBD Bagh. It is a huge piece of Italian architecture on Jawaharlal Nehru Road, which was built in 1875. The largest museum in the country and is popularly known as Jadu Ghar (Magic House), this is the premier national collection in the subcontinent.
Birla Industrial & Technological Museum
Established in 1966, it is located at 19A, Gurusaday Road. A minicoal mine is the main attraction. The galleries have working models in popular science, motive power, mining, metals, petroleum, electricity, communications and electronics. It is a seat of learning of modern science and technology for students, research scholars etc. The museum opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and closed on Mondays.
Gurusaday Museum is situated 15 km. from the BBD Bagh, on Diamond Harbour Road. The museum has a small but rich collection of the folk arts and crafts on undivided Bengal. It has Collection of over 2,000 items. It"s highlights are the Kalighat pats, Jorano pats (scroll paintings) and exquisite kantha quilts, a thrift needlecraft of rural Bengal, wood carvings and terra-cotta panels. Timings: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on Thursdays.
Asiatic Society is the first modern museum in Asia. It is a famous center of Indology, Literature and Scientific Research and is situated at 1, Park Street, Kolkata-16. The society started a public museum in 1814. The Library of this institution contains approximately 20,000 volumes inclusive of 8,000 rare Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian & Hindi manuscript. The archaeological relics, geological and ethnological specimens which the museum of this society possessed formed the nucleus of the Indian Museum. The society has a few pieces of sculpture, which includes an image of Brahma (12th century). The Barhut Asokan Rock Edict (BC 250) in Pali written in the Brahmi script is one of the most important exhibits.
The Museum concentrates on the Bengal renaissance of the nineteenth century. It is situated near Girish Park on Chittaranjan Avenue. This Museum is situated within the walls of Rabindranath Tagore"s house. This university now fosters cultural activities and conducts painting exhibitions by the artists of the Bengal School. The university was once the main center of Kolkata"s intellectual activity. It is open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm on weekdays (1.30 pm on Saturdays) and is accessible by any bus going northwards along Chittaranjan Avenue to the Girish Park Bus Stop.
Nehru Children Museum
Nehru Children Museum which is located on Jawaharlal Nehru Road was built during the late sixties/early seventies and was . This Center hums with children"s activities has a huge library for children. This contains dolls from all over the world. On Chowringhee, this modern museum houses miniature models in clay that depict scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. This is open on all days except Monday from 12-00 Noon to 8 P.M.
Ashutosh Museum of Indian Art
Established in 1937, it is located within the premises of Kolkata University and has interesting pieces of Bengal art. It is open from 10.30 AM to 5.30 PM on weekdays and up to 3.00 PM on Saturdays.
These gardens were created in 1840 by the two sisters who were related to the Governor General, Lord Auckland. The idea was to make a Biblical - style Garden of Eden in India. Winding paths intersects the expanse dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs, and there is a large artificial lake. Adjoining the lake is the Burmese - style Pagoda, which was brought to Kolkata from Burma after the British victory in the Burmese war of 1884. Entry is free. Opens 24 hours.
20 km from the BBD Bagh. It is founded in 1787 by the East India Company. They developed it for the collection of plants, indigenous to the country and for the introduction and acclimatization of plants from foreign parts. The main attraction of the 273-acre gardens being the banyan tree, the world"s largest, having a circumference of 330m. These gardens are the biggest in Asia, and the second largest in the world. Visitors may drive across the bridge and through Howrah, the industrial extension of Kolkata or take ferry from Chandpal or Tekta Ghats to the gardens. Timings: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Opened in 1991 and located at Salt Lake, Nicco Park is the first amusement park of Kolkata, This amusement park is The Disney land of West Bengal, is no bar for any age group. The various rides are enjoyable. There are many attractions for children. The park is open to the public from 10.00 A.M. to 8.00 P.M. everyday during the winter and 11.00 A.M. to 9.00 P.M. everyday during the rest of the year.
This garden was founded by William Carey in 1820 and is situated in Alipur, adjacent to Kolkata Zoological Garden. It has a significant collection of botanical varieties with facilities for gardeners and plant/flower lovers. There is no entry fee.
Kolkata"s interesting zoo-the oldest in India-was the creation of Sir Richard Carnac Temple who was Governor of Bengal from 1874 to 1877. It was opened on Jan 1st 1876, by the Prince of Wales. The 16 hectare grounds house a wide species of animals & birds including the rare white Bengal Tiger. There is a separate reptile house and a children"s zoo. Migratory birds find sanctuary on a small lake in the zoo every winter. It remains a favourite picnic spot during winter. Directly across the main zoo is an aquarium, with a variety of aquatic life from around the world. Entry by ticket. The gardens are open from 6 a.m. To 5 p.m. daily.