Things to do in Kolkata

Activities, attractions and tours
New Market showing a city and street scenes

Kolkata Attractions

The hub of Indian cultural and educational life, Kolkata - formerly known as Calcutta - bears the traces of its British colonial past with pride. While you will certainly come face to face with instances of extreme poverty in this unruly city, you’ll also encounter some of India’s most magnificent architecture and prestigious institutions. Running through the city, the Hooghly River, stemming off from the Ganges, is crossed by a network of bridges and ferries, and tours along it not only uncover vibrant scenes of everyday river life, but are an excellent way of escaping the traffic.

Areas & Neighbourhoods in Kolkata

Esplanade - Wandering the streets of Esplanade is like stepping back to the days of the British Raj. Colonial-era buildings abound, particularly around Dalhousie Square, and you’ll see many palatial mansions in the process of elegantly fading, a diverse mix of architectural styles reflecting the European tastes of the time.

North Kolkata - Spend a day getting lost in Kolkata’s most charming neighbourhood, full of narrow streets lined with beautiful buildings which were once home to some of the city’s wealthiest and most influential residents. The well-known College Street area is Kolkata’s cultural hub, and where you’ll find the world’s largest secondhand book market.

Maidan - Besides a huge expanse of lush green parkland, you’ll find the Victoria Memorial, an immense marble building dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria and housing a treasure trove of memorabilia from the Raj. Some 25 galleries contain everything from portraits and sculpture to armouries.

South Kolkata - The most affluent district of the city has the country’s oldest library, as well as the second-oldest golf club in the world. The Kalighat Temple here, named for the goddess of death, is one of the holiest sites in Hinduism.

Things to See in Kolkata

Want to see Kolkata the easy way? Save time and effort by taking a private guided tour of the city’s highlights, from the Jain Temple complex to the distinguished Eden Gardens cricket ground. Another side of life here is to be found at the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity. Until her death in 1997, Mother Teresa was the face of humanitarian work in Kolkata, then still Calcutta. Near her simple tomb, a small museum displays the nun’s sandals and dinner bowl, practically the only possessions owned by a woman who devoted her life to helping the poor and afflicted.

Things to Do in Kolkata

Spend an afternoon exploring the many galleries that make up the incredible Victoria Memorial, where you can learn the history and effects of British colonialism in Kolkata and the wider country. The Indian Museum is the country’s oldest, housed in a frankly spectacular building. Children will enjoy it too, as there are fascinating collections of meteorites and prehistoric skeletons, and even an Egyptian Mummy. Just outside Kolkata lies the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests. Join a guided tour - it’s probably not somewhere you want to go wandering around on your own, as the wildlife here includes Bengal tigers, crocodiles and pythons.

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