Facts at Glance
Location: South Central of West Bengal
Altitude: 9 meter
Language: Bengali, English, Hindi, Urdu
Known for: Howrah Bridge, Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral
Nearby Cities: Howrah, Kharagpur, Bardhaman
Located in south central part of state, on the bank of Hooghly River, Kolkata is the capital city of West Bengal. The historical city Kolkata is also popular as city of palaces. Formerly known as Calcutta, it is the third most populous metropolitan city in India. The name Kolkata derives from the Bengali word ‘Kalikkhetro,’ meaning “the field of the goddess Kali”.
Right from the beginning, the city became the political, academic, economic, and cultural centre of eastern India. Located on Hugli River, Kolkata port is the biggest and oldest riverine port of India. Because of rich traditional culture, development of education and commercial activities, the British Governance made it the national capital of India until 1911. However, in the year 1911, the national capital shifted from Kolkata to New Delhi.
Further, national movement of India was first started from the city Kolkata and then spread across the country over period of time. Above all, the city is the birthplace of many distinguished persons including Nobel Laureates Rabindra Nath Tagore and Amartya Sen, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Vivekananda, Sharatchand Chatopadhya, Bankimchand Charterji, and many others.
If we discuss about the art and culture then it has had the great contribution especially in the fields of music, art, drama, theatre, film, and literature. To give better education and training in these fields several institutions have also been established such as Asiatic Society, Academy of Fine Arts, Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum, National Library of India etc. Above all, because of all these fascinating features, it is popular as ‘the Cultural/Literary capital of India’ and also named the city as “City of Furious, Creative Energy.”
Former national capital and Cultural/Literary capital of India is one of the most preferred tourists’ destinations in India. The city is infused with dozens of tourists’ destinations including heritage site, religious places, museums, library, parks and modern shopping malls.
Major Tourists’ Attractions in Kolkata
Museums and Libraries in Kolkata
• Victoria Memorial: Built in 1921 and designed by Sir William Emerson, Victoria Memorial is one of the most popular tourists’ attractions in Kolkata. You can see here plenty of European Arts collection and picturesque paintings. In addition, the surrounding of the structure is also beautiful; you can enjoy here beautiful garden with varieties of flowers and show plants.
• Birla Planetarium: Constructed in typical Indian style, Birla Planetarium is the largest planetarium in Asia and second largest in the world. Single storey structure has been designed similar to Buddhist stupa located at Sarnath nearby Banaras. It was inaugurated in 1963 by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
• The Indian Museum: Founded by Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata in the year 1814, the Indian Museum is the largest museum in Asia and the oldest museum in the Asia Pacific region. Located at Chowringhee Avenue, it was founded by a Danish botanist Nathaniel Wallich. You can see here the rare collection of varieties of antique items including Mughal paintings, ornaments, fossils, skeletons, and mummies.
• The Marble Palace: Located at the distance of 46 km at Muktaram Babu Street in North Kolkata, Marble Palace is a wonderful mansion. The structure is largely known for its marble walls and floors. Built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in the year 1835, the structure comprises of 50 varieties of fascinating marbles. You can also see here plenty of western sculptures and Victorian furniture and paintings.
• Birla Industrial & Technological Museum: Founded by the great industrialist Ghanshyam Das Birla, Birla Industrial & Technological Museum is the first science museum in India. You can see here varieties of science items and other collections of historical industrial accessories of India that includes sound recorders, old gramophones, steam engines, telephones, road rollers etc. It also consistently organizes summer camps, awareness programs, and science exhibit and astronomy observations for school children.
• Jorasanko Thakur Bari: Built during the period of 18th century, Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the home of Tagore family. However, now it is transformed into a museum.
• Gurusaday Museum: The Gurusaday Museum is an amazing National Treasure of the Folk and Tribal Arts and Crafts of the state West Bengal as well as India. Opened in the year 1963 for the public, it was founded by Bengal Bratachari Society to preserve and protect Bengal folk arts.
• Jawahar Shishu Bhavan
• Sabarna Sangrahashala
• National Library of India
• Ramakrishna Mission Library
Religious Places in Kolkata
• Kalighat: Built by a Brahmin Zamindar, Sabarna Roy Choudhury, Kalighat is the temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. It is believed by the people that it is the same place where one of the body parts (i.e. last finger of her left hand) of Sati dropped when Lord Vishnu chopped the dead body of Goddess Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva. During the Navratra time, the temple adorned like a bride and thousands of devotees come to worship.
• Belur Math: Built to honor Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Belur Math is an international headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission. It is the same place where Swami Vivekananda had been lived. You can see here the personal belongings of spiritual gurus of the Belur Math.
• Dakshineswar Kali Temple: Built by a great devotee of Goddess Kali, Rani Rashmoni, Dakshineswar Kali Temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali. The temple is built in the year 1855, on the bank of Hooghly River. Interestingly, it was the oldest and largest temples of the city that illustrates the Navaratna style of architecture. Opposite of this temple, you can see the rows of twelve identical temples of Lord Shiva. It is pretty interesting to share that the great spiritual guru Rama Krishna Paramahansa attained his spiritual exhortation here and then started diffusing the words of Goddess Kali.
• St. Paul’s Cathedral: St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most popular churches in Kolkata. Bishop Daniel Wilson was the first who started building it in the year 1839; however, it was completed in the year 1847. Built in Indo-gothic style, it was built in the memory of Lord Mayo.
• Nakhoda Mosque
• Jain Temple
City Parks in Kolkata
• Rabindra Sarobar: Primarily, known as Dhakuria Lake, it is an artificial lake that later on renamed as Rabindra Sarobar to tribute the great Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore by CIT in the year 1958. Located nearby by Central Park, it also homes various species of fish.
• Salt Lake Central Park: Located at the centre of Bidhan Nagar, Salt Lake Central Park is one of the most eye-catching destinations in Kolkata. Rabindra Sarobar Lake adds additional beauty to this park.
• Indian Botanical Garden: Spread in an area of 270 acres, the Indian Botanical Garden is the largest and oldest garden of its kind in South-East Asia region. The garden is established in the year 1786, by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kyd. The Indian Botanical Garden is located on the west bank of the River Hooghly. The wonderful landscape is designed by Sir George King in the year 1872. The garden is one of the most historically relevant herbariums of the world. Above all, tourists largely visit this place to see the 250 years old and about 98 feet tall banyan tree.
• Millennium Park: Located on the bank of the Hooghly River nearby Babughat and opposite of Koilaghat, Millenium Park is opened for public in the year 1999. Designed in modern style, it covers an area of 2.5 km.
• Alipore Zoological Gardens: Spread in more than 18.81 hectare, Alipore Zoological Gardens has been inaugurated by King Edward VII, Prince of Wales in the year 1875. Alipore Zoological Gardens is also popular as Kolkata Zoo, which is the oldest formally stated Zoological Park. You can see here various species of animals.
Bridges in Kolkata
• Rabindra Setu (Howrah Bridge): Built on the River Hooghly, Rabindra Setu is the fourth busiest Cantilever Bridge in the world. More popular as Howrah Bridge, it connects the eastern bank of Howrah and western bank of Kolkata. It is the major link between these two places, without it movement cannot be expected in Kolkata.
• Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge): Commissioned in the year 1992, Vidyasagar Setu is the longest cable-restrained bridge in India that connects the cities Kolkata and Howrah. It is one of the busiest bridges in West Bengal.
• Vivekananda Setu (Bally Bridge): Built in the year 1932, Vivekananda Setu is a multi-span steel bridge that has been built to facilitate road-cum-rail link between the Calcutta Port and the inner parts of the city.
• Nivedita Setu (Second Bally Bridge): Commissioned in the year 2007, Nivedita Setu is the first multi-span and single plane cable supported extra-dosed bridge in India that runs parallel to the Howrah Bridge. The name is given after the name of Rabindranath Tagore’s sister Nivedita.
Statues and Memorials in Kolkata
• Shahid Minar: Located on the northern fringe close to Esplanade at Maidan of Kolkata, Shahid Minar is also popular as “Tower of the Martyrs.” This minar has been built to honor Sir David Ochterlony; he was the commander of the British East India Company Forces during the period of 1814 to 1816. However, after the independence of India, it is renamed as Shaheed Minar to honor all those martyrs who died during the Indian freedom struggle. The minar is measured as 165 ft high that looks great even from far.
• Sir James Outram: Built by John Henry Foley in the year 1874, it is the popular statue of Sir James Outram. The statue is located at the park street in front of Victoria Memorial.
• Netaji Statue: Built by Nagesh Yoglekar, the statue of Netaji is located nearby the Shyambazar five point crossing.
• Iswarchandra Vidyasagar: Built by Bengali sculptor Pramod Gopal Chattopadhyay in the year 1899, the statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar is located nearby Sanskrit College. Iswarchandra Vidyasagar was one of the most popular social reformers of India.
• Rabindranath Tagore: Built by Russian sculptor Aizekovich Azgur in the year 1963, the statue of Rabindranath Tagore is located at the premises of Jorasanko Thakur Bari. The Nobel Prize Winner, Rabindranath Tagore is world-wide famous for his literature and social work.
• David Hare: Located nearby the Presidency College, statue of David Hare is pretty popular. The statue is built of marble.
Tourists’ Destination nearby Kolkata
• Sundarbans: It is world’s largest mangrove forest located at the distance of about 99 km from Kolkata. You can see here the Royal Bengal Tiger and other animals. You can also enjoy here boating.
• Digha: It is the nearest sea beach from Kolkata located at the distance of about 220 km from main city. This is one of the most favorite picnic spots.
• Mandarmani: It is popular sea side resort village situated in the east Midnapore District. It is located at the distance of about 180 km from Kolkata.
How to Reach??
By Road: Kolkata, more popular as the city of joy is well connected with dense road network. The city is linked with almost all the major cities of India. Interestingly, recently the starting of Dhaka-Calcutta buses is new road link that connect two countries namely Bangladesh and India accordingly. The internal road density is also high but these roads are narrow.
By Train: The major railway station of Kolkata city is Howrah and Sealdah. These two railway stations are linked with hundreds of major and minor cities and thousands of towns of India. Interestingly, Kolkata is linked with New Delhi by two Rajdhani Express (one from Howrah railway station and second one from Sealdah railway station). Besides, there are dozens of trains that run from these two stations. In addition, the city has also India’s oldest metro rail and unique tram ways. You can travel one place to another by either metro or tram.
By Air: Located at the distance of about 14 km from main city, Kolkata has an international airport namely Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. Dozens of national as well as international flights take off and land from this airport every day. The major Indian cities for which you can take off or from where you can take flight for Kolkata are New Delhi, Guwahati, Port Blair, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Patna, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar, Chennai etc.