"Kolkata is not just a city, it is an emotion." - said someone.
Kolkata welcomes you, hugs you and makes you fall in love with itself. Kolkatans can brag about its rich heritage and food non-stop, and we are one of them too. With pride. And why not, this city won the title of India’s best street food hub.
Where to go, what to do, what to see, what to eat, where to eat, the list goes on and on. So, while we were in town, we decided to explore the city apart from the usual touristy lists and came up with 10 amazing and unusual things to do in Kolkata. Here it goes.
1. Start with an early breakfast at Tiretta Bazaar.
You would have to wake up really early for this one as the stocks last only till 7 am. This place is heaven for non-vegetarians. This place hosts most sumptuous Chinese breakfast, soups, momos, dumplings, Tibetan bread and much more.
2. Explore the narrowest lanes of North Kolkata.
After you have packed your stomach with a heavy breakfast, we would suggest some walking around the streets of north Kolkata and explore the narrowest lanes. These lanes are so narrow that only person could pass at a time. Old city architecture, design patterns and the houses touching each other are an add on. And while you are on a spree, do step in the local tea shops to enjoy some amazing Darjeeling tea and be a part of the famous Bengali adda.
3. Experience the epitome of craftsmanship at Kumartuli.
Even if you have not been to the city before, you must have surely heard about the world famous Durga Puja. The massive and intricate idols of the Goddess are built here by the artisans. It is mesmerizing to see them spell their magic on hay and clay. Not only for Durga Puja, they build idols for a lot of other Pujas round the year. We recommend, do not miss this opportunity for anything else.
4. Take the Tram Ride.
Credited to be the oldest operating tram network in Asia, Kolkata is the only city in India that can offer you a tram ride on the city streets. And its fun. Trams are real cheap and slow so you can enjoy the city of joy at its own pace. You can get down, roam around and take another one a bit later and it would not burn a hole in your pocket.
5. Go book shopping at College Street.
Bengal loves reading and hoarding books. Well there has to be some source behind that expanding knowledge, intellect and creativity apart from genes of course. In the heart of North Kolkata, there lies a complete market dedicated to only books. School books, college books, art books, literature, craft, novels, self-help, magazines, anything you can think of, College Street has it. And not only the new ones, it is a hub for seconds too.
We understand browsing so much and shopping is hard, so if you get tired, take a refreshing break at Paramount Cold drinks & Syrups. It is a specialized store that serves only sherbet (flavored drinks) of numerous flavors. This legendary place was established in 1918. While it gives you the vide of old Calcutta, please do not expect a lavish air-conditioned restaurant because it is not. And we bet you cannot stop at just one.
6. Go gaga over the Flower Market at Mallik Ghat.
If you are a fan of going the unconventional path, this can be counted as the most distinctive experience. Dating back to 1855, it is one of the largest flower markets of Asia. Located near the famous Howrah Bridge on the Hooghly River at the Mallik Ghat, the place is the epitome of hustle bustle, activity, color and fragrance. Flowers of all colors, shapes and sizes are available here.
7. Spend some time at the ghats and watch the locals.
While you are at the Mallik Ghat going crazy with all the colors and smells around, spare sometime to sit the ghat and watch the daily activities of the locals. It could be a great opportunity for the photographers to capture the essence of the city.
8. Go for a Food walk from North to South.
Nothing beats the food in Kolkata. As we said it is not the hub of street food for nothing. With a staggering number of street food stalls across all its quirky localities, the city is a foodie’s delight. Phuchka, Kathi Rolls, Momos, Telebhaja, Fish Fry, Luchi Aloor Dum, Ghugni, Jhal Muri, Singara, Bhel Puri, Sondesh, Rosogulla, everything is mouthwatering and we can go on and on. It’s time to “Stop Talking and Start eating”.
9. Visit a fish, chicken or seafood market.
Now you already know, Kolkata loves its fishes more than anything else. So while you are there, do not miss a chance to go to a local fish market, or a chicken or seafood market for that matter. You would not get more varieties anywhere else. Vegetarians might want to give a miss and we totally understand.
10. Bargain at New Market.
The ultimate fashion market of the city. From street shops to brands, all at your hands. While Kolkata has numerous malls and high-end brands, new market has still not lost its charm amongst the locals and travelers. Located in the heart of the city, it is one of the busiest places in the city. Commenced in the late 19th century by the East India Company, it houses shops of garments jewelries, electronic goods, leather items, dry fruits, cookies and cakes, crystal items, groceries, kitchen items, household goods, flowers and everything under the sky. It is an absolute shoppers’ nirvana.
11. Go to Bada Bazaar. Bada bazaar is the heart of Kolkata.
Century old building, naked wires, buses, taxis, noise, narrowest of lanes and everything else. name the thing and you would get it here. You would find wholesale markets for almost everything and it is going to amaze you.Just beware of pickpockets, relish the street food and shop to your heart's content.
While you are there, you can also try out the hand rickshaw, which is found only in Kolkata. You might feel seeing them pulling the rickshaw but that is there only source of income and please do not bargain ????
12. Pay a visit to the Park Street Cemetery.
Yes, you read that right. Opened in 1767, South park Street Cemetery, does not welcome the dead anymore but is a place of immense attraction for the living. Housing nearly 1900 graves, the setting gives a haunting experience to the visitors and history seekers. A number of the graves belong to famous military and political figures of the time, including Sir William Jones, founder of the Asiatic Society, whose towering memorial pillar is the tallest of the constructions in the graveyard.
13. Pay a visit to The Great Banyan tree at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden.
Believed to be at least 250 years old, The Great Banyan appears more like a dense forest than as an individual tree. The main trunk of the tree decayed and had to be removed in 1925 but the tree still survives and is growing. Tree occupies an area of about 18,918 square meters and its height is almost equal to the Gateway of India.
14. See some Dinosaurs at Indian Museum.
Yeah, you that right. Founded in the 19th century in Park Street, Kolkata, Indian Museum is the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. This museum boasts rare collections of antiques, armor and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings.
15. Take a night stroll.
Last but not the least and this is a personal favorite. Whenever we go to a place, village town or city, the foremost thing on our list is to take the night walk. We believe that is the time when a place is at its truest self but doing it or not is absolutely a personal choice.
**Although night walks are rejuvenating, one should always take care of personal safety, both men and women.
Kolkata goes much beyond the metro city life, so next time you are there, go beyond Victoria Memorial and Howrah bridge. This city has lot more to offer.