Getting Oriented

On the eastern bank of the Hooghly River, Kolkata is the commercial hub of Northeastern India. In the southern part of West Bengal, Kolkata is only about 72 km (44 miles) west of Bangladesh and about 80 km (49 miles) north of the Bay of Bengal. West Bengal borders Nepal to its northwest and the state of Assam and the country of Bhutan to its northeast; its western edge touches the states of Bihar and Jharkhand; Odisha is to its southwest.

  • North Kolkata. The oldest part of the city is filled with the crumbling mansions of the former gentry, narrow streets and quiet winding alleys, grand university campuses, and heated social and political debates at street corners over cups of tea.
  • Central Kolkata. The bustling, unbelievably congested downtown is anchored by B. B. D. Bagh, where business and government buildings are concentrated. Many of the city's toniest shops and restaurants flank Park Street.
  • The Maidan. This mammoth and very central park is not only a good place to see sheep grazing and Kolkatans at play, it's also where you'll see some of India's finest colonial buildings, including the Victoria Memorial across the street. Take a joyride in an old tramcar, a service that has been operation since 1902.
  • South Kolkata. You could say this neighborhood has two distinct identities. On one hand, it has the noisiest streets, with astonishing shopping in cheek-by-jowl kiosks. But it’s also a leafy world of elegant homes, specialty restaurants, and tony clubs and condominiums.

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