Making the Most of your Time

You can see most of Kolkata's major sights comfortably in three days. Morning is a good time to hit the Maidan park and see Kolkatans playing sports and enjoying the outdoors before the afternoon sun forces them inside. The Victoria Memorial across from the park is a good place to escape the heat; its art exhibitions are fabulous. Take a tram ride around the Maidan to get a feel of how people once commonly travelled; some still do. It is slow, but delightful. Visit the Indian Museum and then hang around the art galleries and auditoriums in the vicinity, where plays and concerts are held throughout the year. Later, shop at New Market, and then join the locals for dinner, drinks, and dancing at the restaurants and hotel nightclubs on and around Park Street. Or take a leisurely boat ride down the Hooghly to catch the sunset and watch the two gorgeous bridges here light up.

The next day, visit College Street and walk around the university area and the secondhand bookstalls. From College Street, you can walk to Nakhoda Mosque, the Marble Palace, and the Rabindra Bharati University Museum, filled with Bengal-school paintings and Rabindranath Tagore memorabilia. For a dose of Jain culture, take a cab to the Pareshnath Temple. Continue on to Kumartuli to see artists create clay icons by the river. Another cab ride will take you to the Belur Math Shrine, then cross back to the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.

If you have still have time in town, you can taxi down to Nirmal Hriday to visit the late Mother Teresa's first charitable home. And finally, hit south Calcutta's shopping hub, Gariahat, for handicrafts, saris, and art galleries (and lots of noise). End your time here at one of the many restaurants serving traditional and fusion Bengali cuisine.

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