Traveling in Kolkata just got more fun
"KOLKATA" - just felt like putting it in capital letters. Every place you've been to brings back a story attached to it whenever you say it out loud or even in your mind. But for me just thinking about Kolkata brings back so many instances that my brain gets overloaded and I just can't decide which one to reminisce in first.
Kolkata is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational center of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city is widely regarded as the "cultural capital" of India, and is also nicknamed the "City of Joy". And is the seventh most populous city. And in terms of a public transport system, Kolkata ranks among the top of the six Indian cities surveyed. So many people means that many of them travel every single day from one side of the city to another and needs an excellent transportation system to deal with this huge number of commuters every single day.
To your surprise Kolkata has about 8 modes of colorful transportation means to deal with this problem. When I say colorful, I literally mean which you'll come to know soon in this post. Some of them you must have also seen in other cities of India but here they are different in colors and are unique to Kolkata.
Let me get you acquainted by them for the next time you are in the city, and can make your own travel plans.
Here it goes:
The Yellow Taxi
The iconic yellow taxis of Kolkata. You have to get a picture of these when here. The most fun part is the conversations that you can have with the driver while on the go. Trust me they have a lot of interesting stories to tell you.
The yellow ambassador taxis dotting the streets of Kolkata are synonymous with the city's backdrop. Taxis are readily available at any time of the day. The drivers would mostly go by the meter so you shouldn't have a problem regarding excessive fares.
Then we have my favorite the "Trams" to which I have dedicated a whole blog post.
It is the only tramway surviving in India today. the Kolkata tram is a charming way of commuting in the city. Though a little slow and also doesn't really have proper timings, the charges are very nominal and it's a comfortable way of getting to different parts of the city. The best part is you can stop the tram anywhere you spot it and climb on it but for that, you have to spot it. The best spot to spot these is the Maidan in front of Victoria Memorial. The tram circles the city with the stops including Park Circus, Sealdah Railway Station and Howrah. You can catch a tram from 4 am in the morning till 11 pm at night.
On a budget? This is your best bet of saving some extra bucks. Not the most comfortable of travels but an interesting one. You'll find these all over the city.
But be aware of the rush hours and the routes, it can get too crowded and cramped.
You'll find these in quite interesting color combinations all over the city.
Now coming to one of the most common ways of transportation in any city today, that is the metro. If a city does not have one, it must be under construction for sure. At least in India thats the case.
It's just not the Tramway of Kolkata thats oldest but the Metro too.The Kolkata Metro, in operation since 1984, is the oldest underground mass transit system in India
The first underground rail system in India, Kolkata's Metro is also one of the fastest ways to get around the city. The track covers the entire city from Dum Dum Train Station in the north to Tollygunge in the south. The Metro timings are from 7am to 9. 45pm from Monday to Saturday and from 2pm to 9.45pm on Sunday.
And thats not it, what makes traveling in Kolkata metros more interesting is that every metro station has a theme to it . Not one is same. My favorite is the one which has Rabindranath Tagore's poems and scribbles in his own handwriting all around the place.
You have to check it out.
Hand Pulled rickshaws
Like tea, tram, cricket and Gothic architecture, the hand-pulled rickshaw is a British heritage in Kolkata's colonial treasure.
These light-weight, wooden rickshaws pulled by men of thin & sturdy body frame, wrapped in lungi from the waistline till knee joint, through waterlogged lanes and crowded marketplaces are unique to Kolkata's identity in contrast to the city's modern infrastructure with skyscrapers and flyovers.
Kolkata is the only Indian city to keep up with the hand-pulled rickshaw, while this mode of transport pulled by one human being for the other has been rolled back from the rest of Asia.
But looking at these you feel sad and amused at the same time. Sad because we say we are in the 21st century and have technological advanced so much and living standards have improved, but that's not reflected here and in today's date also there are people who have to do such work to survive. Amused, by their strength. It's phenomenal, how such a slim framed person pulls the rickshaw and the human sitting in it till the destination and there are times when these rickshaw walas have to do bare foot too.
Again you'd seen them in many Indian cities. These are the next mode of transport after the buses and are popularly called tuktuks by foreign tourists. Here in Kolkata, you'll find them painted in Green and yellow.
You will easily find auto-rickshaws across the city. the charges are fixed for fixed routes. But if he doesnt agree to go with the meter then just check with a local how much you should be paying for a particular route.
Since hand-pulled rickshaws will soon be replaced with battery-operated modern vehicles from the streets of Kolkata as the Government of West Bengal is up with a rehabilitation plan for 6,000 rickshaw pullers, and activists, as well as social critics, have been calling for the ban of these rickshaws.
Totos are these battery operated vehicles which also has different names in different cities of India.
Coming to the last one that I know of are the ferries or the small boat rides that you can take in the Hoogli river from the Vidyasagar setu to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets with the backdrop of Howrah bridge and the new Vidyasagar setu. What better way to end a day in this CITY of JOY.
That's the end of the list. Where you waiting for more? 8 types of vehicles, isn't that enough to checkout on one trip! Hope you do checkout most of these on your next trip or visit to the city of joy, Kolkata.