Kolkata what to see – Calcutta (Calcutta) is a city located in the state of West Bengal, on the eastern border of India. It is a huge city that is teeming with endless streams of traffic horns, businesses, restaurants and street food and a share of attractions. I had an incredible 2 week visit to Calcutta and was able to explore the city and visit some interesting places. Known as the “City of Joy”, here are some of the best things to do in Calcutta!
Kolkata what to see Casa Madre Teresa
Mother Teresa, a Albanian Roman Catholic missionary, did a lot of work in India, especially in the heart of Calcutta. His former home and charity in Calcutta is now known as the Mother House, and within the modest mission is the tomb of Mother Teresa. After having respected, you can walk through a small museum that exhibits some of his personal effects and proceed to climb a flight of stairs to see in the room where Mother Teresa sat at her desk and wrote letters, prayed and lived.
Kolkata what to see – Temple of Kalighatkali
Dedicated to the Hindu goddess of Kali, the Kalighat Kali temple in Calcutta is one of the most visited and sacred sites in the city. The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and other Hindu devotees every day. Walking towards the temple, you will cross a street full of religious objects for sale on both sides. The line to enter the real temple and see the statue of Kali is sometimes insanely long, and you have to take off your shoes to enter. However, you can choose to simply walk around the temple and the inner outer side, with your shoes on.
Be aware of the many scams that are found around the temple. When I entered a nice man (who said he was a Brahmin who worked at the temple) he tried to take me around the temple for a tour. After about 10 minutes he took me to the billiard room and gave me a flower. He then took a notebook and asked for a donation to the temple. The ridiculous thing was that in the notebook, which was shown clearly visible so that I could see, was a list of other travelers who had donated and the amount. John from the United States – 3,000 rupees, Mark from France – 5,000 rupees and so on (clearly absurd and false donations). Then he asked me to write what I would have given, under pressure from what others had given. After reading this exact scam, I was prepared and left.
Kolkata what to see – South Park Street Cemetery
Looking for one of the scariest things to do in Calcutta? Head to the South Park Street Cemetery. Right outside the busy (and noisy) park road, I was surprised at how quiet and peaceful it was in this ancient rotting cemetery. The cemetery was founded in 1767 and includes about 1,600 tombs. If the weeping trees and moss-covered graves are not scary enough already, the occasional gash of a crow will make things a little more bizarre!
Kolkata what to see – New Market (Sir Stuart Hogg Market)
One of the best things to do in Calcutta is explore the market of Sir Stuart Hogg, which is more commonly referred to as the New Market. Within the market itself it is a bit like any other market in the world, there are sections for anything you may wish. But the real beauty of the New Market is the chaotic action that surrounds the market from all sides.
Delicious restaurants, Kolkata street food stalls, handcart transporters and swarms of people are some of the interesting things to observe. The action never seems to slow down. If you are staying in the famous backpacker area of Sudder Street, the New Market is just 1 minute walk away.
Kolkata what to see – Victoria Memorial Hall
Instead of being in West Bengal, when you visit Victoria Memorial Hall, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe. The iconic Calcutta structure is dedicated to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who is also called empress of India.
Along with its British and European architecture, the room also includes some elements of Indian Mughal design. The Victoria Memorial is 103 meters long, 69 meters wide and 56 meters high. The Victoria Memorial is now open to the public for its surrounding gardens and interior museum.
Kolkata what to see – Mullik Ghat flower market
Located directly below the Howrah bridge is the vibrant Mullik Ghat flower market. The market, which is open all hours of the day, is a lively scene of yellow and orange flowers. Vendors and porters walk and run continuously up and down the market, auctioning off their supplies. It’s a great place to take pictures.
Crossing the Howrah Bridge, which is one of the busiest pedestrian bridges in the world, is another of the best things to do in Calcutta. After exploring and observing the flower market, take a walk across the bridge to admire stunning views of Calcutta, the Hooghly River and the constant flow of people crossing the bridge while carrying gigantic loads.
Kolkata what to see – Indian museum
The Indian Museum of Calcutta is one of the most significant and the first museum to be founded in India. The huge museum has collections and galleries that cover many different topics; The museum contains archeology, art, geology and even an exhibition on Egypt (and a mummy).
Kolkata what to see – Belur Math
Unlike the constant chaos and scams around the Khalighat Kali temple, Belur Math is clean, quiet, safe and a perfect place to relax. The temple, located on the banks of the Hooghly River (branches off from the Ganges), was founded by Swami Vivekananda and is now the headquarters of the religious organization Ramakrishna Math. The temple incorporates Hindu, Islamic and Christian architecture and design.
You can choose to walk around the gardens and, if you choose to enter the temple, you can leave your shoes (for free) at the shoe desk. Photography is strictly prohibited at Belur Math and they have many security guards who make sure you don’t take pictures.
Kolkata what to see – Dakshineswar Kali Temple
On the opposite side of the Hooghly River and a boat trip is the Kali Temple of Dakshineswar Kali. The huge Hindu temple attracts large crowds of faithful and Hindus who bathe in the adjacent river. Seeing the temple, it almost seemed like a painting. The whole complex is a bit like a fair, set up with many street food snacks from Kolkata, commercial stalls and many Hindu religious objects for sale.
Note: after visiting Belur Math, I went down to the river pier and took a boat upstream from the temple of Dakshineswar Kali. On the public boat it takes about 20 minutes and costs only 10 INR per person. Also, returning to Sudder Street, I took a taxi for 300 INR.
Kolkata what to see – Terreti’s morning market (Bazar)
The first morning I arrived in Calcutta, I woke up early enough, put on my clothes and went out to find breakfast – it was about 7:30 am – and nothing was happening except a few people bathing for street and a lot of people huddled around the fires: no breakfast.
I soon realized that India does not wake up too early, especially in winter. But there is a local market in Calcutta that is known for its breakfast, often attracting hungry diners who have just finished a party night: the Market of Terreti (Bazar). Each morning along Sun Yat-sen Street, both Chinese and Indian vendors set up stalls and serve an appetizing range of momo dumplings, Chinese baozi and soup noodles. You’ll also find fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat.
Kolkata Street Food
There are many things to do and see in Calcutta, but as a lover of all food stuff, there is nothing more rewarding than hitting the sidewalks for a bite of Calcutta street food.
Sellers are friendly and willing to serve you with their delicious creations. From a man who makes snacks like ghugni chaat and pure bread, to complete meals of rice and curry, your taste buds will rejoice. After filling, don’t forget to breastfeed a cup of chai in a clay cup or drink a mango lassi.