Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Kolkata is a city that is fiercely passionate about its rich heritage – both colonial and Indian. You will discover that there's more to the city than the infamous 'Black Hole' and Dominique Lapierre's 'City of Joy'.
Mother House
The tomb of Mother Teresa is housed here along with a museum and an office of the Missionaries of Charity. The House is open between 08:00 – 12:00 hrs and again between 15:00 – 18:00 hrs. Closed on Thursdays.Phone: +91 33 2452277
Short and long term volunteering options also exist.
Victoria Memorial
Conceived by Lord Curzon as a tribute to Queen Victoria, this majestic building was completed in 1921. A 16-ft high statue called The Angel of Victory made in Italy, stands atop the dome. The must-sees at the museum are 'Company Drawings' of natural history, the Calcutta Gallery and paintings by the Daniells depicting Indian landscapes.
The gardens are open all days 05:30 – 19:00 hrs. The Museum is open all days except Mondays and other public holidays 10:00 – 17:00 hrs.
Maidan and About
Stroll through Kolkata's verdant Maidan (open grounds) to spot some of the most fascinating architecture from the era of the British Raj including Fort William, Shahid Minar (formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument), St. Paul's Cathedral and the Victoria Memorial. One of the oldest and largest cricket stadia in India, Eden Gardens, is right here.
The nearby BBD Bagh, also known as Dalhousie Square was the administrative center of the East India Company. The Writer's Building now houses the Secretariat of the West Bengal government.
South Park Street Cemetery

For those not intimidated by the morbidity of tombstones, there are poignant stories to be found here in the mossy cenotaphs and remnants from the the British Raj.
Marble Palace
A permit is required in advance from the West Bengal Tourism office, to see this magnificent residential building. A walk through the Marble Palace is a fascinating way of acquainting oneself with the ways of the opulent Bengalis of the 1800s. Since it is also a private residence, some areas may be off-limits.

Chowringhee Road and New Market just off it, are the places to go for shopping of all kinds. Buy terracotta crafts, Bengal cotton sarees and jute products. Be sure to bargain.
Dakshinapan on Ghariahat Road has handicrafts and handlooms at government approved rates. Be sure to visit Dolly's for tea.
Besides the usual Tandoori and upmarket multi cuisine restaurants, do try typical Bengali fare in restaurants like 6 Ballygunge Place, Oh Calcutta and Kewpie's.
Inmates of the destitute home run by The All Bengal Womens' Union create an authentic Bengali lunch for which their restaurant, Suruchi is renowned. Closed on weekends.
Over cups of coffee, participate in spirited intellectual conversations (also locally called 'adda') at the famed Indian Coffee House near the University. But for a relatively serene experience, head to Flury's on Park Street for tea and cake.
Ferry on the Hooghly
For a local experience during the day, take a ferry between Belur and the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple. At dusk, take a motorised ferry along the Hooghly and watch the illumination of the two bridges - Rabindra Sethu (Howrah Bridge) and the Vidyasagar Sethu (New Hooghly Bridge).
The Victoria Memorial hosts Son-et-Lumiere shows in English (all days except Mondays and Public Holidays) : October to February: 19:15 - 20:00 hrs, March to June: 19:45 – 20:30 hrs.
Contacts: West Bengal Tourism Center (Kolkata) Ph : +91 33 22437260 / 44012659-62 http://www.westbengaltourism.gov.in
(An edited version appeared in Culturama's December 2010 Issue)

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