Kolkata (Calcutta)

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Kolkata (Calcutta) - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Jorasanko Thakurbari

    North Kolkata

    Rabindranath Tagore's sprawling and well-maintained mansion is a pilgrimage site for his fans and followers. A poet, philosopher, and Renaissance man, Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. The nerve center of Calcutta's intellectual activity around the turn of the 20th century, Tagore's abode now holds memorabilia, including beautiful sepia photographs of the poet, his family, and his contemporaries.

    267, Rabindra Sarani, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700007, India
    033-2218--1744

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Mon.
  • 2. Kumartuli

    North Kolkata

    Home to hundreds of clay artists, this neighborhood is the most famous producer of idols of popular deities in the Hindu pantheon. The skilled craftsmen are especially in demand during the immense Durga Puja, which is usually held in the autumn. A walk around the maze of potters' settlements can be full of surprises.

    Kolkata, West Bengal, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 3. Marble Palace

    North Kolkata

    One of the strangest buildings in Kolkata was the inspiration of Raja Rajendra Mullick Bahadur, a member of Bengal's landed gentry. Mullick built the palace in 1855, making lavish use of Italian marble. It's behind a lawn cluttered with sculptures of lions, the Buddha, Christopher Columbus, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Hindu gods. Near a small granite bungalow (where Mullick's descendants still live), a large pool houses some exotic birds with large headdresses. The palace has an interior courtyard, complete with a throne room where a peacock often struts around the seat of honor. The upstairs rooms are downright baroque: enormous mirrors and paintings cover the walls (including works by Reynolds, Rubens, and Murillo), gigantic chandeliers hang from the ceilings, and hundreds of statues and Far Eastern urns populate the rooms. The floors bear multicolored marble inlay on a giant scale, with a calico effect. Even the lamps are detailed creations, especially those on the staircases, where metal women are entwined in trees with a light bulb on each branch. Movie producers use the palace for shooting films. Guides here expect tips and sometimes they can get adamant about it.

    46 Muktaram Babu St., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700007, India
    033-2269--3310

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free; you must obtain a pass from the West Bengal Tourist Office 24 hrs in advance, Closed Mon. and Thurs.
  • 4. Victoria Memorial

    Central Kolkata

    This massive, white marble monument was conceived in 1901 by Lord Curzon and built over a 20-year period. Designed in a mixture of Italian Renaissance and Saracenic styles, surrounded by extensive, carefully manicured gardens, and preceded by a typically sober statue of Victoria herself, it remains a major symbol of the British Raj as well as that of Kolkata itself. Inside the building is an excellent museum of the history of Kolkata (there's a lot to read, but it will really sharpen your sense of the British-Bengali relationship) and various Raj-related exhibits, including Queen Victoria's writing desk and piano, Indian miniature paintings, watercolors, and Persian books. Cameras and electronic equipment must be left at the entrance. In the evenings there's a sound-and-light show, with narration in English, about Kolkata's history. The lawns are used by locals, especially during winter, for family picnics and joyrides on horse-drawn carriages.

    1, Queen's Way, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700071, India
    033-2223--1890

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 500, Closed Mon.
  • 5. Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden

    Across the Second Hooghly Bridge (Vivekananda Setu) in Howrah are these sprawling botanical gardens, first opened in 1786. Darjeeling and Assam teas were developed here. The gardens' banyan tree has one of the largest canopies in the world, covering a mind-boggling 1,300 square feet. On Sundays and holidays, locals turn out in droves to enjoy their day off. The winters are excellent for bird-watching.

    Howrah, West Bengal, 711103, India
    033-2668--0554

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 100, Daily 1 hr after sunrise–1 hr before sunset, Closed Mon.
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  • 6. B. B. D. Bagh

    Central Kolkata

    With wide, buzzing streets lined with late-Victorian buildings and pavements taken over by vendors selling rice-based meals, snacks, fruits, clothes, accessories, books, magazines, and electronic devices, this square remains the heart of the city. Still referred to by its colonial name, Dalhousie Square, the regal buildings were built around a sprawling tank (water reservoir), Lal Dighi, for civil employees. Now they are home to international banks, and the state secretariat and other public offices. After office hours, the square falls silent; that's a good time to visit if you're interested in taking a closer look at its architectural and historic landmarks.

    Kolkata, West Bengal, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 7. Belur Math Shrine

    This is the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, a reform movement inspired by the mystic Ramakrishna Paramahansa, who died in 1886. Having forsaken his privileged Brahmin heritage, Ramakrishna preached the unity of religious faiths and an adherence to altruistic values for all people. His disciple, Swami Vivekananda, established the mission in 1898. The serene Belur Math Shrine, on the banks of the Hooghly, resembles a church, a temple, or a mosque, depending on where you're standing. Somber aarti (chants and hymns) are sung in the immense prayer hall every evening; visitors are more than welcome. Simple vegetarian meals, offered at the shrine, are then served to visitors who make a nominal donation.

    Belur Rd., Kolkata, West Bengal, 711202, India
    033-2654--1144

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily 6 AM – noon and 4 PM – 9 PM
  • 8. Chowringhee

    Central Kolkata

    North Kolkata may be the city's intellectual heart, but the slick commercial area east of the Maidan is the city's spinal cord. Now technically called Jawaharlal (or J. L.) Nehru Road, Chowringhee runs along the east side of the Maidan, with shops, hotels, and old Victorian buildings lining the other side of the wide pavement. In the evening, hawkers do their best with potential shoppers, and at night, the homeless bed down.

    Kolkata, West Bengal, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 9. College Street

    North Kolkata

    This erudite destination smells of old books and history. This was the hotbed of the Bengal Renaissance movement, and it eventually became a symbol of revolutionary ideals and radical youth movements. Several walking tours are available around the elite Presidency College University, Kolkata University, Sanskrit College, Baptist Mission, Theosophical Society, and Hindu School. The pavements are dominated by bookstalls that are treasure troves for those with the inclination and time to discover a rare (and usually quite inexpensive) title. At Indian Coffee House, at 15 Bankim Chatterjee Street, you can grab a quick bite over a leisurely cup of coffee and get a whiff of the languid airs of the historic neighborhood.

    Kolkata, West Bengal, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun.
  • 10. Dakshineshwar Kali Temple

    Far north along the Hooghly, this 19th-century complex with 13 temples is a major pilgrimage site for devotees of Kali, as well as other deities. The variety of temples makes this site a good introduction for the uninitiated to the Hindu pantheon. It was here that the 19th-century mystic Ramakrishna had the vision that led him to renounce his Brahmin caste and propound altruism and religious unity. His most famous disciple, Swami Vivekananda, went on to be a major force in the intellectual and spiritual growth of Kolkata, and founded the Ramakrishna Mission, headquartered in the Belur Math Shrine. Ramakrishna's room here is a museum. Don't miss the chance to spend some quiet moments on the banks of the river. Stalls selling local fast food line the busy street up to the temple.

    Kolkata, West Bengal, 700076, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily dawn–10pm
  • 11. Flury's Tea Room

    Central Kolkata

    For breakfast or tea with sandwiches, try Flury's Tea Room which serves nostalgia in a new, contemporary setting. Kolkata's first Swiss confectioner opened in the 1920s and is now an institution. You can get a chicken or cheese omelet, croissants, vegetable patties, beans on toast, tea in a pot, and coffee for Rs. 500.

    18 Park St., Kolkata, West Bengal, India
    33-4000–7453
  • 12. Fort William

    Central Kolkata

    The irregular heptagon south of the Eden Gardens in the Maidan is surrounded by a moat almost 50 feet wide. Begun in 1757 after Robert Clive's victory at Plassey over Siraj ud-Daula, Fort William was designed to prevent any future attacks. The fort's walls, as well as its barracks, stables, and Church of St. Peter, have survived to this day chiefly because the fort has, in fact, never been attacked. The Indian government still uses the fort, but it's closed to the public.

    Fort Williams, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700021, India
  • 13. General Post Office

    Central Kolkata

    Built in 1864 and still in use as Kolkata's main post office, this building's massive white Corinthian columns rest on the site of the original Fort William, where the British were attacked in 1756 and many officers were imprisoned by Siraj ud-Daula in the infamous "Black Hole of Calcutta," a tiny space that caused most of the group to suffocate. A postal museum, founded in 1884, has artifacts and stamps. The Philatelic Bureau is situated at the southwestern end of the building.

    Netaji Subhash Rd., Fairlie Pl., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700001, India
    033-2242--1572

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Weekdays 10–5:30, Closed Sun.
  • 14. Howrah Bridge

    One of the most enduring icons of the city, the Howrah Bridge was commissioned and built by the British between 1936 and 1943. The tall cantilevered bridge links Kolkata to Howrah and its bustling railway station, which serves as a gateway to the northeast of India. The web of girders stretches 1,500 feet over the Hooghly, crisscrossed with small and big fishing boats, ferries, and steamers. Now renamed Rabindra Setu, after Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who hailed from the city, the Howrah Bridge has fascinated poets, painters, writers, filmmakers, and tourists. Bordered by thin walkways, the bridge's eight lanes of chaotic traffic bear 2 million people each day in buses, rickshaws, cars, scooters, bicycles, and pushcarts. A walk across the bridge provides terrific people-watching.

    Howrah, West Bengal, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 15. Indian Museum

    Central Kolkata

    India's oldest museum has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections in Asia, including one of the best natural-history collections in the world. The archaeology section has representative antiquities from prehistoric times to the Mughal period, including relics from Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, the oldest excavated Indus Valley cities. The southern wing includes the Bharhut and Gandhara rooms (Indian art from the 2nd century BC to the 5th century AD), the Gupta and medieval galleries, and the Mughal gallery. The Indian Museum also houses the world's largest collection of Indian coins. Gems and jewelry are on display. The art section on the first floor has good collection of textiles, carpets, wood carving, papier-mâché figures, and terra-cotta pottery. A gallery on the third floor contains exquisite Persian and Indian miniature paintings, and banners from Tibetan monasteries. The anthropology section on the first floor is devoted to cultural anthropology. The museum plans to establish India's first comprehensive exhibit on physical anthropology. Some interesting specimens are an Egyptian mummy donated in 1880 by an English seaman, a fossilized 200-million-year-old tree trunk, the lower jaw of a 84-foot whale, and meteorites dating back 50,000 years.

    27 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700016, India
    033-2252--1790

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 500, Closed Mon.
  • 16. Kalighat Kali Temple

    South Kolkata

    Built in 1809, the Kali temple is one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in India, with shrines to Shiva, Krishna, and Kali, the patron goddess of Kolkata. Human sacrifices were reputed to be commonly practiced here on special days during the 19th century, but only goats are slaughtered now, then offered to the goddess with bhang (marijuana). The building rewards a close look: you'll see thin, multicolored layers of painted trim and swaths of tilework. Only Hindus are allowed in the inner sanctum, but the lanes and brilliant flower markets surrounding the temple are lovely in themselves. Beware of touts and aggressive priests.

    Kalighat Road, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700026, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily sunrise–sunset
  • 17. Nakhoda Mosque

    North Kolkata

    This massive red sandstone mosque, which can hold 10,000 worshippers, was built in 1926 by the Sunni Muslim community as a copy of Akbar's tomb in Agra. Each floor has a prayer hall. The top floor has views of the streets below, which are crowded with stalls selling everything from paperback Korans to kebabs. The tailors in the bazaar are known for their skillful embroidery and can craft traditional kurtas on short notice.

    Rabindra Sarani, Kolkata, West Bengal, 700073, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily sunrise–8 pm
  • 18. National Library

    South Kolkata

    Once the house of the lieutenant governor of Calcutta, this hefty neo-Renaissance building has miles of books and pleasant reading rooms. The rare-book section holds some significant works, adding to the importance of this 2-million-volume facility. There are no displays, but you can take a short walk through the grounds. Day cards are issued to anyone interested in using the library's reading room. The staff are very helpful and will guide you through the process.

    Belvedere Rd., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700027, India
    033-2479--2968

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Weekdays 9–8, weekends 9:30–6
  • 19. Nirmal Hriday

    South Kolkata

    Mother Teresa's first home for the dying is now one of 300 affiliated organizations worldwide that care for people in the most dire need. Mother Teresa is buried in this building, which was her home for 44 years, until her death in 1997.

    251 Kalighat Rd., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700026, India
    033-2464--4223

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Fri.–Wed. 3–6, Closed Thurs. and Sun.
  • 20. Pareshnath Temple

    North Kolkata

    Built in 1867 and dedicated to Pareshnathji, the 23rd of the 24 Jain tirthankaras ("perfect souls," meaning sages who have achieved Nirvana), this Jain temple is an uncharacteristically ostentatious one, with inlaid-mirror pillars, stained-glass windows, floral-pattern marble floors, fountains, a gilded dome, colorful fish in sparkling reservoirs, and chandeliers from 19th-century Paris and Brussels. The garden holds blocks of glass mosaics depicting European figures and statues covered with silver paint.

    Badridas Temple St., Kolkata, West Bengal, 700006, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Daily sunrise–noon and 3–7

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