For an avid traveller, nothing gives more satisfaction than visiting places which are more interesting than the norm and do not make in your list of the most favourite destinations. Kolkata is one such city of India, which is full of contradictions and deserves to be explored. Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta is the capital of West Bengal and the second largest city in India after Mumbai. Kolkata is also known as the intellectual and cultural capital of India – this magnificent city has produced generations of writers, poets, film directors, and Nobel Prize winners. With so much to offer in heritage, culture, and contradictions, Kolkata is one city, which leaves a long-lasting impression on a first-time visitor. Until the 17th century, Kolkata was a village, inhabited by anglers and it saw a tremendous surge in growth at the height of British rule in India in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Under the British rule, Kolkata flourished marvellously both commercially and culturally and it nurtured a perfect blend of East and West. Lets us talk about the main attractions of Kolkata:
The Indian Museum
The Indian Museum is the largest and the oldest museums in India, which was founded in 1814 at the cradle of the Asiatic Society of Bengal by a Dutch botanist under the British Rule. Since then, it has developed a lot and culminated into the best museum in the country. There are six sections in this museum, which are further divided into 35 galleries. Each gallery contains a wonderful range of various artefacts, antiquities, paintings and mummies etc.
The Howrah Bridge is one of the most renowned landmarks of Kolkata. It is the sixth longest cantilever bridge in the world, which is built over the Hooghly River. This bridge was commissioned in 1943, when it was named as the New Howrah Bridge, because it replaced a pontoon bridge at the same location linking the two cities of Howrah and Kolkata. It was renamed as Rabindra Setu on 14 June 1965 after the name of the great Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.
Located on the plains on the banks of the River Hoogly, the Victoria Memorial was built between 1906 and 1921 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 25-year reign in India. Spread over 64 acres of land, there are 25 galleries in this building which display various antiquities and artefacts. It is one of the most prominent reminders of the British Raj in India. This massive white-marble museum is constructed by using the top quality Makrana marbles, transported from Rajasthan.
The construction of the temple started in 1970 and it took 26 years to complete the structure. Birla Temple is one of the several Birla temple landmarks, which are sprinkled across various major cities in India. These temples are maintained by the Birla Family of India and dedicated to Lord Krishna. This glorious building was built by using white marble and it is spread across an approximate area of 130 acres of land.
Park Street is the most famous food street of Kolkata, as it is home to popular pubs and restaurants in the area. This thoroughfare was one of the prominent nightlife spots in the 70’s and the 80’s. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation gave this place its current official name in honour of Mother Teresa. However, things have changed a lot over the years; Park Street is still one of the most visited areas in Kolkata.
The Royal Calcutta turf club was founded in 1847 in the British India and it was the first horse racing organization in India. The Calcutta or the Kolkata Racecourse was established in 1820 and is one of the oldest horse race courses in the country. The races are conducted between the months of July to September and November to March on Saturdays or any other public holidays.
Mother Teresa’s Motherhouse
The Missionaries of Charity’s Mother House is a place of pilgrimage and reverence. Tourists come here to pay homage at Mother Teresa’s large tomb. There is a small adjacent museum room, which displays Teresa’s worn sandals and battered enamel dinner bowl. This place was established by Mother Teresa in 1950 with the purpose to serve humankind. Prayer petitions can be placed in the box on Mother Teresa’s Tomb during the visit. All petitions are offered on the altar during the weekly Friday Mass.
Eden Gardens is a famous cricket ground, which is situated in the heart of Kolkata near Maidan. With a seating capacity of 66,000, it is the largest cricket stadium in India and the second-largest cricket stadium in the world behind the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This stadium is the home of the Bengal Cricket Team and the Kolkata Knight Riders of the Indian Premier League. The name ‘Eden Gardens’ has been kept by its makers, who were inspired by ‘The Bible’. The Eden Gardens complex spreads over a massive lush green land, including the cricket stadium, indoor stadium and many gardens, lakes and a Pagoda.
Eco Tourism Park
This is the newest attraction of Kolkata, which was conceptualised by the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee on July 2011. The West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation developed it. This park is divided into three broad parts – ecological zones, theme gardens and urban recreational spaces. The major attractions of this park are: Rose Garden, Butterfly Park, Music Fountain, Food Park, Banglar Haat, Baul Gram, Shilpi Kuthi Cottages and Conference Hall.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is the first Episcopal Church of the eastern world. It is an Anglican cathedral of the Church of North India. It is also an architectural marvel as it is modelled on the “Bell Harry” tower of Canterbury Cathedral and it also resembles England’s Norwich Cathedral with three Gothic stained glass windows and two frescoes in the Florentine Renaissance style. It is located at the southern end of the Maidan in Kolkata, with its eastern side facing the majestic Victoria Memorial. The cornerstone of this church was laid in 1839 and the building was completed in 1847. It is said to be the largest cathedral in Kolkata and the first Episcopal Church in Asia. It was also the first cathedral, which was built in the overseas territory of the British Empire. It is also close to the Rabindra Sadan theatre complex, Nandan and the Birla Planetarium. It is also flanked by a number of ancient trees. The interior of the church offers a visual panorama with outstanding floral designs on the walls. The Life and work of St. Paul are vividly depicted in pictures.