My fondest memories of childhood are associated with Kolkata, then Calcutta. I wonder if it’s the influence of Satyajit Ray’s movies or my creative reverie that my recollections of Kolkata retain a certain something that is sepia tinted, elegant yet gauche, aristocratic yet squalid.
Skimming through the famous Camac Street, jostling amidst bustling New Market, exploring the glittering night life at Park Street or spending hours in the tranquillity of Babu Ghat. It truly identifies itself as the ‘cultural capital’ of India. The culture isn’t only limited to the elaborate preparations during Durga Puja, it literally extends to the daily humdrums of each and every household. It seems as if every Bengali has an aesthetic taste for art, music and literature in his genes. Be it the passion for politics or the love for football, from a bespectacled jhola-clad intellectual to a fish hawker, they all collectively contribute to what gives this city a charismatic and vibrant personality of its own.
Kolkata is a city thriving between the reminiscence of a colonial past and a progressive present. You need not visit a museum or an old monument to trace the history of the city. Kolkata has preserved its old school architecture in its buildings and streets and this sense of colonial nostalgia is especially captured in the streets of Dharamtala.
Irrespective of you having visited Kolkata or not, the first thing that comes to mind is the city’s iconic landmark – the magnificent Howrah Bridge that proudly stands over the Hoogly River. The regal Victoria Memorial remains one of the city’s most popular picnic spots till date. For a city that gave India its first scientist, Birla Planetarium and Science City are enlightening places to visit. The religious and cultural landmark of the city is embodied in the majestic Dakshineshwar Temple and Belur Math. The latter reverberates with the spirituality and wisdom of Shri Ramakrishna and his apostle Swami Vivekananda. Kolkata is also famous for its splendid churches and cathedrals. St. Paul’s Cathedral Church with its Indo-Gothic style is the most famous and impressive among them. Botanical Gardens and Nicco Park are also popular tourist attractions in the city.
The sweets of Bengali cuisine are impossible to resist. The delectable mishti doi and rosogolla at Chowringhee Lane or jhal-muri and rolls remain a common sight at every nook and corner of the city. Explore a variety of fish delicacies in Kolkata and pick your personal favourite!
From the vermillion shades of Kalighat to the blazing yellow taxis on the street, from the tinkling of the church bells to the peculiar honk of rickshaws, from quaint trams to the modern day metro rails - get bedazzled in the plethora of colours and flavours Kolkata has to offer.