Kolkata, the city of joy, Rabindra sangeet, sweet rasogulla, vibrant Durga Puja, and grand architecture, is the perfect canvas of Indian culture & traditions. Having spent a few memorable years of my childhood in West Bengal, I have witnessed the grandeur of the city several times. The images of me hopping from one pandal to another during Durga Puja & collecting the tasty prasadam during Shitla Puja are still fresh in my mind. How would the city look after 15 years? With this curiosity, I started my one-day trip to Kolkata.
Does old architecture provide you solace or spirituality is the food for your soul or is it the adrenaline rush, maybe the street food? Kolkata has something to offer for everyone.
Howrah station welcomes you!
Step your foot on the platform of Howrah station, and with a swarm of people, Kolkata welcomes you. Outside the station, just across the road is the mighty Hooghly river. Take a look up, and your eyes meet the majestic Howrah Bridge. And with this starts your day in the city of joy.
Love monuments & historic sites? Grab the famous yellow taxi or take a bus ride from Howrah station, and there you are at the Victoria Memorial. The vast marble museum consists of various galleries with paintings and artifacts from the era of British colonial rule in India. With paintings of renowned artists like Nandalal Bose, John Fleming, many manuscripts, and rare photographs of the past era, it stands as a connecting link between the past and present.
A train, metro, bus, choose the most convenient & nearest commute option available, and a few minutes later, you land in Belur. Asking the locals, crossing streets, and here you are at Belur Math. The official headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission, Belur Math was established by the man who introduced the world to Indian religions and culture, Swami Vivekananda.
The huge campus of the Math consists of the main Math, several temples & the Ramakrishna Museum. The museum takes you through a beautiful journey to discover various old artifacts & pictures associated with Math. If you are interested in spirituality, a few days of stay at the Math is a viable option.
If it is your first visit to Kolkata, you must not miss a ferry ride. While there are several places that the ferry can take you to, but if you are interested in visiting religious sites, Dakshineswar is your destination. Situated on the banks of Hooghly River, Dakshineswar Kali Temple is a renowned temple for Hindus. The grand temple with magnificent architecture and a large courtyard is devoted to Goddess Kali.
As a child, many of us dream of visiting Disneyland. If you still enjoy the thrill of a roller coaster or a skydiver ride, you are welcome to the craziest part of the city, Nicco Park. From the bull ride, water coaster, mirror maze, river cave, the park offers above 35 rides & includes a water park too. The roller coaster & the skydiver, which drops you down from about 80 feet, was a thrilling experience.
Caution: Going for the roller coaster, do remember to keep your spectacles away safely or else be ready to lose it like me.
As an Indian, I grew up to witness cricket being an inseparable part of our lives. During my childhood days in West Bengal, a lost match in the world cup was followed by the closure of the market for a day while winning a match led to the distribution of Sandesh (A Bengali dessert). A visit to Eden Garden was a must for me. The stadium is one of the largest & oldest cricket stadiums in the world & is commonly referred to as the “Mecca of Indian Cricket”. Being the host of several matches, including world cups, Eden Garden stadium stands a witness to the craze cricket creates in the state.
Park Street: The never sleeping street
As the sun is ready to part ways, it is time to explore the street that never sleeps. Park Street, the famous thoroughfare in Kolkata, is the hub of restaurants, shopping malls & 5-star hotels. The best place to explore Bengali cuisine, the well-decorated street is a feast to the eyes during festive times such as Diwali & Christmas. This hub for youngsters has rich historic significance too. The street runs through what was a deer park long back & is the address of renowned landmarks including the Park Hotel, St. Xavier’s College & Asiatic society.
Bengali cuisine needs a special mention. While Rasogulla & Machh are quite famous, a visit to Kolkata is incomplete without enjoying the perfect Bengali thali. As a child, I loved Shukto (a curry vegetable preparation) & puchka. While I relived my childhood by enjoying these delicacies, you must try Sondesh, Jhal muri, Misti doi & chingri maach.
As the sun set, my one day trip to Kolkata came to a halt. With beautiful memories of the past & present, I parted ways, planning for another trip to explore this land of sweetness.
How to reach
Airways: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, located around 17 km from Kolkata city, is well connected with other major Indian & International cities.
Railways: Howrah station is the main railway station. Sealdah, Santragachi, Shalimar & Kolkata railway stations are a few others connecting the city.
Road: State-owned & private bus facilities connect the Kolkata to other cities. Bus services to Bhutan & Bangladesh are also available.
Best time to visit: October – February
Must Eat: Sondesh, Rasogulla, Mishti Doi, Jhal Muri, Macher Jhol
Cost: Kolkata is quite an affordable city. You will find cheap stays to 5-star luxury hotels & the same goes for restaurants. The one-day expedition cost me around INR 5,000.
Transport: Each & every point in the city is accessible either by metro, bus, taxi rentals, or rickshaws.
Durga Puja (Sep-Oct)
Kolkata International Cinema Festival (Nov)
International Kolkata Book Fair (Jan-Feb)
National Theatre Festival (Dec)
Dover Lane Music Festival (Jan)