May 16, 2016
At the end of March, after four days of partying at the Indian wedding in Patna, we took the night train to Kolkata. We arrived early in the morning. I heard many things about the previous capital city of India, mostly positive things, too, so I was really looking forward to going there and discover it for myself.
Here I give you a list of the ten things I would recommend to anyone going to Kolkata for the first time.
10 Must Dos in Kolkata
1. Visit South Park Cemetery
Visiting a cemetery doesn’t have to be morbid. South Park Cemetery is the biggest christian cemetery outside of Europe and looks more like a park almost than an actual cemetery (is what they say). This may be because many young couples and groups of “brave” youngsters hang around on the tombs. As you may have guessed by its name, the location of this must-do is at the popular Park Street. It is definitely word a visit. Remember to register with the concierge when you enter.
2. Discover the Flower Market
The flower market of Kolkata can be found at the foot of the Howrah bridge and is a colorful, busy, “happening” place. The market is open basically 24/7, but the best time to visit is early in the morning when they deliver the fresh flowers. I haven’t been able to visit this must-do yet myself because it is a little out of the way, but from what I have heard, read, and seen it is definitely something I recommend!
3. Stroll around the Park Street Area
Park Street is just as lively as the center of London. The fact that Kolkata is full of British cabs and that the roads are lined up with trees instills the image even more that Kolkata once used to be British. You’ll find many Western restaurants, modern Indian food places, bars and clubs etc. Basically, if you don’t know what to do, you come here!
4. Go for a Walk by the Howrah River
I, myself, went for a walk on the boulevard at sundown. As soon as night falls though, all the mosquitos come out (so come prepared!). Nevertheless, the view of the lights on the other side of the river and the view on the beautifully lit bridge makes for a very romantic place to stroll with, say, your boyfriend or girlfriend.
5. Chill in the Gardens of Victoria Memorial
The Victoria Memorial itself is quite beautiful and you could visit the museum inside (don’t go if you think it will be cool in there because it is even hotter inside than outside). The Memorial was finished in 1921, after 15 years of work, and was built in honor of Queen Victoria of Great Brittain, obviously. The gardens around the building are worth a walk as well. Again, I tend to go here later in the day to avoid the hottest time of the day. In addition, the gardens and Memorial are beautifully lit in the dark and the lights reflect beautifully in the pond at the back.
6. Take a look in Quest Mall
The Quest Mall is worth a visit just for its architecture, inside and out. Most shops are slightly out of my price range, but you’ll also find a Vero Moda and Inox cinema.
7. Have Food at One Step Up and Eat Good Food
A restaurant that was recommended to me by a local is One Step Up in Park Street. We went twice because we missed Western food sooo much and the food was just that good. Another nice looking place I discovered, but didn’t get a chance to eat at myself, is Eat Good Food. It is close to Quest Mall and its menu contains original dishes at a decent price.
8. Indulge the Booklover in Yourself
Almost everywhere you go you’ll see books for sale – both on the streets and in stores. On the street you can buy both new and second-hand books at cheap rates. In some stores, like the Oxford Bookstore, you can immediately crawl up in a sofa and start reading the book you just bought with a cup of coffee. Just like in the British Waterstones really!
9. Pick the “Boat Ride by Night”
It was actually the second time I went to Kolkata that I did the boat ride on the Howrah river (last September). I was disappointed because it is one of those things my friends really recommended to me. You can take the boat from Princep Gath. Although, having been on the ride after all, it wasn’t worth the money after all. They just take you 100m to the left and 100m to the right. But I guess, if you take some beers with you, it could still be fun.
10. Have a Good Time at Nicco Park
Yes, in India, too, they have amusement parks! Of course, they don’t all look like a Six Flags (although apparently, these kinds are there too), but you should more imagine Nicco Park specifically as a huge fair. The reason we went to Nicco Park, was basically to keep busy one more day before we could go back to Bhubaneswar. We wanted to leave the overheated city and have some fun.
Budget tip: we chose the dayticket (250 rupees) instead of the all-in pack (500 rupees). The difference is that with the day pass you still have to pay extra for some of the more ‘spectactular’ rides, which is not the case for the all-in pass. We decided that for us the extra rides were not worth the extra pay. There were only three rides we paid a little more for, but this made the dayticket more economical in the end.
I could live in Kolkata for a while, but not forever. Would I recommend you to add Kolkata on your list of must-visits in India? Definitely! More so than Delhi, Kolkata is a good introduction to India: it is a big city, but not as crowded as Mumbai or Delhi. Besides, it also won’t take you as long to get form point A to point B. Only if there is a strike, you can’t count on anyone. (Yes, talking from experience here!)
This list of must-dos in Kolkata is obviously relatively short. I didn’t have time to do all the things I wanted to do, but that is why I went back! I am looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Kolkata.