10 Best Tourist Places in Kolkata
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of India’s West Bengal state. Founded as an East India Company trading post, it was India’s capital under the British Raj from 1773–1911. Today it’s known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals. With all the beauty and glorious history that comes with Kolkata, it is hard to decide which places to visit while you’re here. So if you’re in Kolkata and don’t know what places to visit first, this article may come in handy. This list of 10 Best Tourist Attractions in Kolkata has been put together to provide you with a kick start in your Kolkata quest. Let’s get started!
1. Dakshineshwar Temple
In your quest of Kolkata’s heritage, where else to start with than a temple and some ritualistic Arati? One of the most famous and frequently visited temples in West Bengal is Dakshineshwar Temple or also famously known as Dakshineshwar Kali Bari. Situated on the eastern bank of the Hooghly river, built in 1855, this temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Kali. It also has twelve identical temples of Lord Shiva within its premises. It caters to a large number of pilgrims and tourists every single day. The Arati is mesmerizing to witness. In several occasions, like the new year’s eve, the line for the entrance stretches till the Dakshineshwar bridge looking over the Ganges. The temple is also famous for all the monkeys that it houses. You can roam about with your family and friends, feed the monkeys or simply enjoy the serenity of the vicinity.
2. Victoria Memorial
One of the most famous tourist places in Kolkata. It has been dedicated to Queen Victoria of England and stands tall as one of the most romantic places in the city. The grandeur of the palace and the vast gardens surrounding it provides you with the opportunity to catch a breath and observe the serenity and natural beauty of the place. The magnificent white marble structure appears to be more impressive in the evening with the mystical lighting effects. If you are interested in history, you can also visit the museum and explore the age old history and architecture.
3. Eco Tourism Park
Next on our list of best tourist attraction places in Kolkata is Eco Park. It is a man-made park with a humongous compound. The manicured lawns and well-defined paths through them are all you need to have a stroll through the quiet, green gardens. Situated in the heart of the concrete jungle i.e Kolkata, this place provides you with a breath of fresh air. Also, if you enjoy water sports, this place can do wonders for you. And when you’re done with walking and basking in the fresh air, you can also visit Mother’s Wax Museum just across the street and enjoy clicking selfies with the statues of several celebrities.
4. Birla Temple
Located at Ballygunge, this Hindu temple was built in 1996 by the Birla family. The deities Krishna and Radha are worshipped in the temple. The beauty and the grandeur of the architecture of the temple are breathtaking. It has been inspired by the Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneshwar, dedicated to Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu. Adorned with electric diyas and gleaming chandeliers, this temple is indeed a sight to behold.
5. Prinsep Ghat
Undeniably the most famous and romantic spot in the city, hands down! Situated on the river bank, the view of the New Hooghly bridge, Vidyasagar Setu, is going to make you fall in love with the place alone. The gothic styled white monument occupying the back of the Ghat is a sight to behold for the lovers of art and architecture. The place is also the most photographed spots in the city. Whenever you visit, chances are you will witness some or other photo shooting is taking place in it’s premises.What more? You can go for a private boat ride and forget about all else. The boat ride runs for a minimum of 30mins with no upper limit, although its charged per hour basis.
Best visited time: Just before the sun set.
6. Kali Ghat
Said to be one of the 51 Shakti Peethams of India, this temple too is dedicated to the goddess of Shakti, Kali. Here, one of the various parts of Sati’s body parts are said to have fallen during Lord Shiva’s Rudra Tandava. It houses the idol of the deity with her hands and tongue made of gold and silver. Pilgrims and tourists visit the temple waiting in a long queue just to get a glimpse of the idol of the goddess.
7. Indian Museum
The Indian Museum is the largest and oldest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. It has six sections comprising thirty-five galleries of cultural and scientific artefacts namely Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. At present, it includes six cultural and scientific sections, viz. Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, geology, zoology and economic botany, with a number of galleries under each section. Many rare and unique specimens, both Indian and trans-Indian, relating to humanities and natural sciences, are preserved and displayed in the galleries of these sections. Every year, both tourists and locals crowd this place to get a glimpse at the many wonders hoarded in the museum.
8. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is known as the first Episcopal Church of the eastern world. It is an Anglican cathedral of the Church of North India. Besides, being a religious site, the cathedral is also an architectural marvel. The St. Paul’s Cathedral took eight years to be built at a whopping cost of Rs. 5 lakhs and was finally consecrated by Bishop Wilson on 8th October 1847. The cathedral’s tower is modelled on the “Bell Harry” tower of Canterbury Cathedral and the cathedral overall resembled England’s Norwich Cathedral with three Gothic stained glass windows and two frescoes in Florentine Renaissance style. There is also a library inside with a modest collection of Bishop Wilson’s collection and a marble bust of the Bishop. There are several sculptures and memorials like the “Episcopal Throne” and an ornamented wall – Reredo, carved with incidents from the life of St. Paul.
9. Jorasanko Thakur Bari
Popularly known as the ‘Jorasanko Thakurbari’, Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral house is now a museum dedicated to the life and works of the Nobel Laureate. Built in 1785, the Jorasanko Thakur Bari now houses Rabindra Bharati University. Within the complex is Maharishi Bhavan, named after the poet’s father, Maharishi Debendranath Tagore. Today this house is a museum that has three galleries dedicated to Tagore, members of his family and the Bengal Renaissance. The galleries provide glimpses of intimate family photographs, live size portraits and Tagore’s evolution as a poet philosopher.
10. Alipore Zoo
This is one of the most famous and widely visited tourist spot in Kolkata. It is India’s oldest zoological park and has been open to the public since 1876. Zoological Garden located at Alipore in Kolkata is also known as Alipore Zoological Garden.The initial collection consisted of very few animals like the African Buffalo, Zanzibar Ram, Domestic sheep, Four-horned sheep, Hybrid Kashmiri Goat, Indian Antelope, Indian Gazelle, Sambar Deer, Spotted Deer and Hog Deer. Now, it is the home to Aldabra Giant Tortoise Adwaita, who is presumed to have been over 250 years old when it died. The zoo is very popular among kids and has a Reptile House, a Primate House, an Elephant House, and a Panther House. There is also a separate Children’s zoo in the premises.
Kolkata is also known as the City of Joy, and rightfully so. Being a multicultural, multi-religious city, it consists of uncountable places that you may visit. From temples to architectural monuments, once you start exploring Kolkata, there’s no looking back. Like the city, the multicultural essence of these places is worth all the travelling and searching. If you’re looking for some relaxation and peace and fun, say “ Chalo Kolkata” and start exploring now.
Contributor: Neha Basu.