Best time to visitN/A
Things to doCity tours
Best MonthsAll year
Traveller TypesFamilies, Solo, Friends
Rank8 out of 199 attractions in Kolkata
Also known as boi Para, this is a long stretch from the Ganesh Chandra Avenue to the Mahatma Gandhi Road and is known for the many colleges out here. Apart from colleges there are other building for the city's intellectual group to spend time in. The Coffee House has served as the hangout for budding poets and politicians discussing on serious agendas over hot cups of coffee and kobiraji cutlet for years now. Above all what makes this place even more famous are the presence of many small and big book stalls and thus the name, 'boi para'. If you want to buy old or new books there can be nothing better than a couple of hours in College Street.
Places to stay near College Street (Boi Para)
Reviews of College Street (Boi Para) • 6
Shopping was next on our agenda. We battled the morning traffic to get to Gariahat market that is famous for its saree shops. That is when we inadvertently walked into Gupta's to experience one of the best mishti dois in town. We savored more of the freshly prepared sweets including the 'notun gurer sandesh' and bought a box of the delicatessens to take home with us. All the sweetness was followed up by some extravagant shopping at Indian Silk House and a hearty meal consisting of Mutton chaap, Biriyani and the best ever Shahi Tukda from Royal Indian Hotel which has a legacy of serving customers for more than a hundred years. Swarming in and out of the first metro railway in India, we plunged headlong into the intellectual hub of Kolkata - College Street. It is the largest second hand book market in the world with countless book stalls packed together on either side of the road. One can find almost any title here, all at throw away prices - from academic textbooks and paperback editions to rare gems which aren't stocked elsewhere. Many renowned educational institutions are located here including the Presidency College, the University of Calcutta and the Hindu School. I picked up a book to mark the memory of my visit to this book lovers' paradise - The Weekenders - Adventures in Calcutta, a collection of fiction and non-fiction travelogues about Calcutta by eminent writers from around the world. Back in Bangalore, I relived my personal adventure in this esoteric land as I flipped the pages of this gripping book.
3. Bookworms Flock To College Street -
Be a BookwormThere is an old adage, "If you do not find a book in College Street, then that book was probably never published". This is not any ordinary book store with smell of print on paper wafting from every corner of the store, nor has it any similarity to any second hand book shop. A whole block of city street, chockablock with ramshackle stalls dealing in books. Bookworms; Welcome to College Street!College Street is home to iconic educational Institutions, The Presidency University (formerly Presidency College), The Calcutta Medical College and The Hindu School to name a few. Nicknamed "Boi Para" meaning Colony of Books, the book kisosks jostle for space on the pavements. Thronging with students, scholars, academicians, intellectuals, sellers and book lovers haggling and bargaining for prices it is every book lover's paradise. One may search for any book in any stall, and if they do not have it, they will surely get it from somewhere else; Don't Worry. Its not all second hand books though. There are numerous stores selling new books, and every possible piece of stationary imaginable.An article in the journal Smithsonian described College Street as ...a half-mile of bookshops and bookstalls spilling over onto the pavement, carrying first editions, pamphlets, paperbacks in every Indian language, with more than a fair smattering of books in and out of print from France, Germany, Russia and England. It is the largest second-hand book market in the world and largest book market in India. One can buy rare books at throw-away prices.Things to Do: Buy Books, that's what one is supposed to do here. Refresh at the iconic Indian Coffee House or have a glass of juice at Paramount or taste the famous "Kachoris" at Putiram.Tip: Do not feel ashamed to bargain. And bargain hard!
"Paradise for readers", my grandfather exclaims everytime someone mentions College Street. Nostalgia hits his face, and all he imagines is his college days. Even an hour was not enough for me to explore all the bookstores. Even if a book is available for 300 outside, this place will have the second hand book, in the best condition, for less than 50-60 bucks! Left for my next spot with at least 9 books in hand and a nine inch smile on face.
The best place to start a Calcutta trip is from College Street. It is an entire street filled with only bookshops. You get all kinds of books here. On myriad subjects. The entire place has a culture of its own. It is very colourful and bubbling with energy. Places like Coffee House or Presidency College reek of history. The Naxalite movement began here. Every lane has a story to tell, a different era to revisit. Some of the really old buildings of the city are near here.
A mecca for bibliophiles, the street is lined with stalls buying and selling books. The locals call it 'boi para' (colony of books) and it is the largest second-hand book market in the world and the largest book market in India. Visit to get hold of some precious book titles and the joys of bargaining for that one book you just cannot do without. Also, stop-by the famous Coffee House and Calcutta University campus.