Kolkata, more lovingly called the City of Joy is a place you must visit at least once (I recommend multiple visits though) if you stay in India. This place has something for everybody. If you are not already mesmerized by the architectural beauty of the city, the endless misthis here are sure to win your heart. Making a list of just five things to do when you’re in Kolkata is a nearly impossible task, but I’m trying my best to keep the list to the bare minimum.
Visit All The Amazing Places – The list of places to visit here in Kolkata is a never ending one. From ancient buildings from the British Era to Museums to Science parks, Kolkata has something to offer to every kind of tourist. I strongly recommend visiting Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum, Science City, Jorasankho Thakur Bari ( Rabindranath Tagore’s birthplace), Botanical Gardens, Tirreta Bazar (this is an old Chinese breakfast market which is active from early morning to 8am everyday where original Chinese breakfast items like momos, thukpa and other delicacies are available), Nakhoda Mosque, Dakshineswar Temple(the only Kali temple where animal sacrifices are banned) , Sri Pareshnath Jain Temple, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Kumartuli idol makers and the Mullick Ghat flower market (situated right below the Howrah Bridge, this is the largest flower market in the country).
Eat Street Food And Sweets – Kolkata is synonymous with the variety of sweets available here. Names like mishti doi (sweetened yogurt) and roshogolla are quite well known but one needs to try the not-so-well-known yet equally amazing ones like malpua, shondesh, chamcham, kacha golla, chanar jilapi, dorbesh, monohara and tones more. These sweets are sure to transport one into a complete different world of pure bliss. If you have time, I highly recommend visiting “Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy”, one of the oldest (more than 150 years old) and the best shondesh makers in the entire city. The city is also a paradise for street food lovers. From jhaal muri, phuchka, bhel puri, ghoogni to papri chaat, name it and you have it. Also don’t forget to grab a gorom singara or tele bhaja (fritters) and hot cha (tea) served in an earthen cup.
Experience Durga Pujo – Yes, I mean when I say experience it. It is not just about seeing the Durga idol, Durga Pujo is a period of mad frenzy and celebration for Bengalis and one needs to be here in Kolkata to know it. Morning archanas (morning prayers), extravagant feasts, evening arati, endless adda (evening chats with friends) and late night pandal hopping, your four days of pujo will be gone before you realize. The entire city and all its inhabitants are decked in their best as they celebrate the annual visit of Devi Durga.
Go City Hopping - By city hopping, I mean travel by the tram from Shyam Bazar to Esplanade. You can also opt for a hand-pullen rickshaw if you please. The tram goes slower than your regular bicycle (thanks to the thick traffic) but the trip is something you will remember for the rest of your life. Also, Kolkata is the only city in India where you can ride a tram or get on a hand-pullen rickshaw. If travelling by public transport is not your thing and you have plenty of time on hand, slip into your comfiest shoes and go out on a solo or group walk across Howrah Bridge or along the winding lanes in North Kolkata or through Maidan and at Victoria gardens and just watch people.
Buy Books - A visit to Kolkata is incomplete without a visit to the famous College Street which gets its name from the colleges, universities and schools in the area. This place is a book lover’s paradise with uncountable street stalls all lines up in the lanes. There is no book one cannot find here, new or old. If lucky, you might happen to find extremely old and rare editions of books that are out of print or unavailable elsewhere.
The next time you plan to visit Kolkata, make sure you make a to-do list and come with plenty of time so that you don’t miss out on anything that the city has to offer to its visitors.