Kolkata Tour Information
Kolkata, the ‘Paris of the East’ is a medley of moods, styles, cultures, politics, industry and commerce. The East India Company first set up a trading post at Sutanati and built the Old Fort William in 1696. The city went on to become the showpiece capital of the British Raj and the greatest colonial city of the Orient. It became a leading centre of commerce and a port of call for east bound vessels. Kolkata, remained the capital of British India till 1912, but it continued to be a major industrial and cultural centre. The city is a kaleidoscope of various contrasts, which are unseen anywhere else in the world. It is a unique blend of ancient and anon, occidental and oriental styles, skyscrapers and Victorian edifices and a haven of rich as well as poor. The city’s rich cultural literary and religious flavours are reflected in its fine arts, writing, music, dance and theatre. Kolkata, the city of love, hope and joy, is ever fascinating, effervescent and teeming with life and traditions.
This white marble marvel is Kolkata’s most distinguished landmark. In 1905, Lord Curzon conceived the idea of its construction and the foundation stone was laid by Prince of Wales (King George V) on 4th Jan, 1906. It was inaugurated by the Duke of Windsor on 21st December 1921 and is now the most prolific reminder of the British rule in India. The majestic 61m high white edifice with its formal gardens and water courses sprawls across an area of 26 hectares and is located at the southern end of ‘The Maidan’. It was designed by Sir William Emerson blending British and Mughal architecture styles. A 4.9 m black bronze statue of an angel known as Victory, holding a bugle in her hand was placed at the apex of the dome above the memorial. The 4.5 tonnes statue is fixed to its pedestal with ball bearings and rotates when the wind is strong enough. The memorial houses rare memorabilia from the colonial days ad over 3500 exhibits are displayed in its galleries. The evening Sound and Light show is worth seeing.
This huge expanse of green is known as the ‘lungs of the city’ and is rated as the finest gift of the British to India.
BBd Bagh (Dalhousie Square)
When Kolkata was the capital of the British Raj, Dalhousie square held a coveted position and was the centre of power. It still is the Kolkata’s commercial hub and was renamed as BBD or Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh after the three martyrs of Bengal. The momentous square has a large Lal Dighi tank in the centre, surrounded by several historical buildings.
This 14 storeyed building to the north of BBD Bagh was built in 1880, for the clerks or ‘writers’ of British East India Company, who worked and lived here. Today, it houses the secretariat of West Bengal government.
This irregular octagon shaped fort on the banks of rivers Hugli was built in 1781, after the destruction of the old fort in 1756. There is a museum displaying arms and armours, photographs of the Burma campaign and the Bangladesh Liberation War. It also has a section on the people and handicrafts of north-east India.
Shahid Minar (Ochterlony Monument)
The 52 metres tall tower, dominating the Chowringhee skyline, was built in 1828, to commemorate the British East India Company’s victory in the Nepal Campaign of 1814 – 1816. In 1968, the minaret was named Shahid Minar in memory of the Indian freedom fighters.
It was established on 29th September 1962 and is one of the largest in the world. Starts and constellations are projected on the domed ceiling of the planetarium.
Academy of Fine Arts
This eminent centre for arts was set up in 1933, at the initiative of Lady Ranu Mukherjee.
Rabindra Sadan a theatre cum concert hall and Nandan, a film centre are located nearby. The Bangla Akademi and the Kolkata information Centre are also located here.
This home of Tagore since 18th century, was a major centre for Bengali arts and culture during the 19th century. It has now been converted into the Rabindra Bharati University. A 45 minute light and sound programme, based on the life and times of the Tagore family is held her in the evenings.
It is located at the Park Street and was established in 1784, for promoting the study of Indology, literature and scientific research. The society started a public museum in 1814 and is the first modern museum in Asia. It houses a rich collection of art and antiquities. There is also a huge library.
This extensive museum popularly known as Jadu Ghar (Magic House) at J.Nehru Road is the oldest institution of its kind not only in India buy also in the entire Asia-Pacific region. It was first established at the Asiatic Society on 2nd February 1814. In 1878, it was transferred to this huge classical style building. The museum has over 60 galleries dealing in six departments Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Botany.
This Gothic style mansion was built in 1835, by raja Rajendra Mullick, a wealthy Bengali merchant. It has ornate objects d’art and paintings, studiously collected form auctions and dispossessed households across the globe.
It is housed in an elegant building which was originally the summer house of Prince Azim-us-Shan, the Viceroy of Bengal and Bihar. Lord Curzon officially inaugurated the Imperial Library on 30th January, 1903, at the Metcalfe Hall and was renamed as national Library in 1948. The library has over 2 million books and ½ million documents.
Museums of Kolkata
Kolkata’s rich heritage is well preserved in its 25 museums. Apart from Victoria Memorial, the Inidan Museum and the Marble Palace, he prominent ones are the Asutosh Museum at Kolkata University displaying the rich artistic legacy of eastern India. Nehru Children’s Museum, with a rich collection of dolls from all over the world. Birla Academy of Art & Culture and Birla Industrial & Technological Museum, with a good collection of sculptures and modern art. Netaji Museum, exhibiting personal items of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Academy of Indian Coins & History, housing a comprehensive gallery of ancient Indian coins and Postal Museum, near GPO displaying a rich collection of artefacts and stamps.
Howrah Bridge or Rabindra Setu
It is the major landmark and the gateway to the city of Kolkata. The 97m high and 705m long bridge built over river Hugli is the world’s busiest bridge.
It lies to south of Howrah Bidge on the river Hugli. The construction work took 22 years and costed Rs. 3.88 billion. The 457m long and 115m wide bridge, is supported by 121 wire cables, and stands on four pylons, on a foundation that is 100m deep.
It is located at the intersection of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and the Park Circus Connector and is the only venture of its kind in entire Asia. Some of the popular sections are, space theatre, space flight simulator, recreated Jurassic forest, aviary etc.
Metro Rail, the pride of Kolkata is the first sub-way railway systems in the country and is ranked among the best underground railway systems in the world. It is the most convenient and preferred mode of transport in the city, connecting Dum Dum in the north to Tollyganj in south, covering a total distance of 16.43km. The Metro System has in all 17 stations including Dum Dum and Tollyganj, which are the only stations on surface.
This has been rebuilt in 1809 on the site of a much older temple, called Kalighat. In fact, kalighat is the temple from which Kalikata takes its name. According to a legend, when Shiva's wife's (Kali) corpse was cut up, one of her fingers fell here. Since then, it has been an important pilgrimage site.
Pareshnath Jain Temple
This temple, in the northeast of the city of joy, was built in 1867 and dedicated to Sheetalnathji, the 10th of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras. The temple is an ornate mass of mirrors, colored stones and glass mosaics.
The Nicco Park is situated at Salt Lake is south Kolkatta. This amusement park is the Disneyland of West Bengal, with a variety of unusual games and rides. The Cave Ride is the latest addition and is the only of its kind in this part of the world.
Shantiniketan is a small town near Bolpur in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, approximately 180km north of Kolkata. Shantiniketan is mainly known for the university set up by Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Set amidst sprawling fields, mango groves and forested land, Shantiniketan is a beautiful and artistic place, known for its red soil, which makes the landscape rather dramatic. The best time to visit Shantiniketan is from November to March.
Kolkata Fairs & Festivals Information
This most important Bengali festival is held in the month of Aswin (October / November). Images of the ten armed goddess are worshipped in houses and at pandals, erected specially for the Puja. After the four-day ceremony, these images are immersed in the river.
The festival that follows is Deepavali, the festival of lights. The worship of goddess Kali is marked by display of fireworks and crackers. Other important festivals are Rathjatra of Lord Jagannath, organised by ISKCON, Holi, Id and Christmas.
The Maidan literally becomes a fair-ground after November. Textile Fair, Art & Handicrafts Fair, Leather Exhibition and the famous Kolkata Book Fair.