India >> West Bengal >> Kolkata Travel Guide

Kolkata Hotels and Travel Guide

Kolkata (previously called Calcutta) is a relatively young city by Indian standards, having a recorded history of some 300 years although recent archaeological evidence suggests that a sophisticated civilisation (Chandraketugarh) dating back 2000 years existed near where the city that now exists.

Kolkata, largely a British creation was the capital of British India until 1910. In 1686 the British abandoned Hooghly, their trading post 38km up the Hooghly River from present-day Kolkata and moved downriver to three small villages - Sutanati, Govindpur and Kalikata.


Despite the post's initial lack of success, in 1696 a fort was laid out near present-day BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square) and in 1698, the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb's grandson gave the British official permission to occupy the villages.

Kolkata grew steadily until 1756, when Siraj-ud-daula, the nawab of Murshidabad, attacked the town. Most of the British inhabitants escaped, but those captured were packed into an underground cellar where, during the night, most of them suffocated in what became known as 'the black hole of Calcutta'.

In 1757 the British, under Clive of India, retook the city and made peace with the nawab. A stronger fort (Fort William) was built in Kolkata and the town became British India's capital. Much of Kolkata's most enduring development took place between 1780 and 1820. Later in the 19th century, Bengal became an important centre in the struggle for Indian independence, and the resultant unrest was a major reason behind the British decision to transfer the capital to Delhi in 1911. Loss of political power did not alter Kolkata's economic control and the city prospered until after WWII.



Shop till you drop is the name of the game in Kolkata. Here you'll find everything from a pin to an elephant for sale and everything else in-between. For the tourist, shopping in Kolkata is an experience in itself. The whole of Kolkata is a big market and there is probably no main road which is not lined with shops. There are small and big bazaars in every part of the city. The bazaars consist of a large number of shops selling everything from vegetables to electronics. Many roads specialize in particular products. For example B.B. Ganguly Street has jewellery, ophthalmic and furniture shops. Besides the traditional bazaars Kolkata has several modern shopping complexes as well as other retail complexes worth wandering through.

Kolkata has uniform temperatures throughout the year ranging from 12-27°C in the winter and 24-38°C in the summer. Annual rainfall is around 160 cm. The humidity level can be very high in the summer and can make one's life difficult especially if you are unused to these damp heat conditions. Cotton clothing is ideal for the summer months whereas light woollens are required for the winter.


Botanical Gardens: Located 8 kms from Calcutta on the west bank of Ganga are the famous Botanical Gardens.The highlight of the Gardens is the 200 year old banyan tree, said to be the largest in the world.The tree is 26 metres high with a circumference of approximately 900 feet.

The world's largest estuarine forest in the world, the Sunderbans, the habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger, which also houses the estuarine crocodile, wild boar and several varieties of birds and snakes, is within easy reach of Calcutta. This famous Project Tiger Reserve can be approached only via the waterways.

Digha: 185 km south east of Calcutta is Digha, a popular beach resort with a 6 km long beach, said to be one of the widest in the world. The other popular beach resort of West Bengal, Bakkhali, lies 132 km from the city. 48 km south of Calcutta is the beautiful Diamond Harbour, at the mouth of the Hooghly, an ideal picnic spot. 12 km from the city centre, on the banks of the Ganga, is the magnificent Dakshineswar Temple, dedicated to Goddess Kali .

Shantiniketan: Maharshi Debendranath, father of Rabindranath Tagore, had founded an Ashram here in 1863 AD. Almost 40 years later, Rabindranath started an open-air school at Shantiniketan that gradually developed into an international university named Visva Bharti where the cultures of the East and the West meet in common fellowship and thereby strengthen the fundamental conditions of world peace.
Shantiniketan is 211 km from Kolkata and there are regular bus services.

Ganga Sagar : A Culturally and religiously important destination it also has an exceptionally good beach for tourists. Situated on the island in the Sunderbans, it holds the charm of a completely unspoilt beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga. It can be approached from Kolkata by bus.

Gandhi Ghat : ( 25 km ) A memorial to Mahatma Gandhi on the banks of the Hoogly river.

Diamond Harbour : ( 51 km ) The Hoogly river turns here towards the sea. Bakkhali ( 132 ) is famous for gold beach.

Krishnagar : ( 100 km ) Krishnagar can be reached by road or rail from Kolkata ( 100 km ). The town on the banks of the Jalani river, is famous for its toy and clay models. The Krishnanagr Palace and the Roman Catholic Church are worth seeing.

Nabadwip : (114 km ) The birth place of Saint Chaitanya is the scene of many colorful festivals.

Botanical Gardens Kolkata
Botanical Gardens Kolkata

Howrah Bridge , Kolkata
Howrah Bridge , Kolkata

Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture kolkata
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture kolkata

Missionaries of Charity - Kolkata
Missionaries of Charity - Kolkata

Attractions and Places to Visit in Kolkata

Birla Mand ir Lakshmi Narayan Temple built in the usual temple style from marble and granite is a huge structure, brightly illuminated and cool when the evening breeze make it a pleasant time to visit.

Birla Planetarium One of the most technically advanced in the world, the Birla Planetarium is close to the crossing of Theatre Road and Chowringhee Road. Daily shows are held in English, Hindi and Bengali as the planetarium's gigantic projector recreates the night sky. The Planetarium also has an astronomical library and art gallery.

Belur Math The Math is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, situated 6 km north of Kolkata. The Ramakrishna Temple ; which looks like a church, mosque or temple; depending from where it is viewed, is a building of unique architecture that symbolizes the unique faith of its c ongregation. On the other bank of the river is the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple where Ramakrishna received his spiritual vision after meditation. There are also 12 Siva temples here.

Botanical Gardens 20 km from the heart of town is the oldest botanical garden in India and a haven for nature lovers. Spread over 273 acres, it contains over 30,000 varieties of trees and plants. The garden's main attraction is the world's largest banyan tree, 200 years old with over 600 aerial roots.

Dalhousie Square Renamed Binoy Badal D inesh Bagh (also BBD Bagh), is the hub of West Bengal/'s administration and commerce. This is the site of all the important government institutions of the state and the place that houses the now famous Writer's Building (clerks were known as writers in the British India) and the old Fort William.

Dakshineswar Temple On the banks of the Ganges near Bally bridge you can find one temple of goddess Kali & 12 temples of God Shiva worth a photo.

Eden Gardens are laid out with ornamental trees, shrubs, winding foliage, sparkling fountains and a beautiful Burmese pagoda. Well equipped with all the latest facilities, (the cricket stadium is located here) it is a popular place for relaxation as well as cricket.

Howrah Bridge is a spectacular construction, the third largest cantilever bridge in the world and was opened in 1943. The 71 ft wide bridge can accommodate eight lanes of traffic and is flanked by two wide footpaths.

Hastings House Situated along the Judges' Court Road and shrouded in an aura of legend and mystery was built in 1774 by Warren Hastings as his residence.

High Court A panoramic view of the city can be obtained from the corner turrets of the building of Judicature with a tower 54 meter high and was built in 1872 in Gothic Style.

Missionaries of Charity is a new order formed in 1950 by Mother Teresa. Their vow ?to give wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor' was put into action with the setting up of several homes. Visit Mother Teresa's tomb at the Mother House and witness the generosity of her spirit at Nirmal Hriday (home for the dying), Shanti Nagar (for lepers) and Nirmala Shishu Bhavan (the children's home). For voluntary work with the Mission, in India, you may contact the London branch of the Missionaries of Charity, 41 Villiers Road, Southall , Middlesex , UK, or write in to the "Mother House", 54A, Lower Circular Road , Kolkata 700014.

Nakhoda Mosque At the junction of Rabindra Sarani and Zakaria Street, is the biggest Muslim mosque in the city. Modelled on Akbar's tomb at Sikandra near Agra, the mosque has a prayer hall that can accommodate a congregation of ten thousand at a tim e and is well worth visiting, if not to worship, to view the architecture.

National Library Built in Italian Renaissance style, the Belvedere was once the residence of Warren Hastings. Then known as the Imperial Library and later National Library after Independence, it is the largest in the country and is said to contain more than 2 million books and manuscripts.

Netaji Indoor Stadium Situated at the Eden Gardens, this stadium hosts indoor games and sports like table tennis, basket ball, volley ball and badminton.

Nicco Park If you are visiting with kids in tow then this is a must do place to spend at least a few hours while here. Your kids (and their mums and dads) will love the funky joy rides and numerous food stalls selling mouth-watering nibbles too. 

Rabindra Sarobar is more a recreation spot, but it secrets a few attractions such as a Buddhist temple, a public swimming pool and a sports stadium.

Raj Bhavan This, the Governor's residence, is the finest example of Georgian architecture in India. It was the official residence of the British Governors during the pre independence period. The Throne Room contains Tipu Sultan's throne and its ballroom has the finest polished dance floor in India.

Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture Established by the Ramakrishna Mission it commemorates the birth centenary of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa. Religious discourses and cultural exchanges, among international scholars, are held here. The Institute has a magnificent library, museum, prayer hall, meditation room and guest house. Salt Lake Stadium found here, also known as the Yuba Bharati Kriragan, is elliptical in shape with a sitting capacity of 125,000 people.

How to Reach Kolkata

Kolkata is well connected with direct domestic airlines services to and from Kolkata to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, etc. there are also direct flights to most of the countries in the Southeast Asia. The airport is situated at Dumdum, about 17 km northeast of the city center. Trains from the other parts of the country connect Calcutta. The city has two major railway stations-one at Howrah and the other at Sealdah. Kolkata is also connected with most of the Indian cities by road.

We offer complete Travel to Kolkata (Calcutta) and Tour Packages Kolkata (Calcutta) to the versatile city of Kolkata that are inclusive of hotel booking, air booking services as well as cab and car hire services for the entire duration of your stay there. Our Kolkata tour packages are convenient and cost effective travel options that offer you unique opportunities to get an insight into the heritage and culture of this old city.

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