Kolkata Things to Do
Kolkata or Calcutta was once the capital of British India and till today it still retains quite a lot of both the British & Indian heritage.
Kolkata is very chaotic in nature and visitors to this unique city are greeted with its unmistakable charm and are overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of its residents. Once the capital of British India for a fair amount of time, Kolkata offers a lot of interesting sights and quite a few possibilities for those who are looking to explore both the city and its surrounding area deeper. There is no lack of tourist agencies in Kolkata offering tours to all tastes though we found them a little bit pricy. Yet considering the fact that some of the activities and tours are really an once-in-a-lifetime experience, they totally worth money spent, we would say.
Kolkata Walking Tours
There is no doubt that Kolkata is a jam-packed city but to enjoy the intellectual side of it one can opt for the ever popular Small Group Walking Tour that is offered by City Discovery. It is a fully guided tour which includes hotel pick-up and drop off for the convenience of the tourists. The program starts with a visit to the flower market where we stopped and smelled the beautiful marigolds and clicked pictures of the flowers and the vendors. The tour then veers towards Dalhousie Square where the tourists get to see the various historic buildings. Moving on the walking tour proceeds towards Calcutta Jain Temple, St John’s Church and finally to Kumartuli. The cost of this tour is INR 5885 per adult and children under 6 years are not allowed.
Gangsa Sagar island
The cultural side of the city can be best experienced through the full-day private tour to Ganga Sagar. This is an important pilgrimage site for the Hindus and there are many agencies which operate frequent tours to this island. The Bharat Sevashram Sangha and the Kapal Muni Temple need special mentioning as these two spots are the main attractions here.
Those who are not much into walking can opt for the special excursion tours from Kolkata wherein the tourists get to visit forests, riverside destinations, sea beaches, and rustic villages of Bengal, Santiniketan and the famous Terracotta Temples of Bishnupur. Most of the places are very close to the city and are popular as weekend getaways. Santiniketan, for example, is the home of noted poet Rabindranath Tagore and no visit to Kolkata is complete without making a weekend/day trip to the place.
Exploring Sunderbans National Park
A short trip to the southern tip of West Bengal (Kolkata is the capital of this state) lets one explore the Sunderbans National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The long stretch of mangrove forest is home to myriad varieties of wildlife including the famous royal bengal tiger.
There are comfortable cottages in the premises of the forest area which are equipped with all modern amenities and offer bonfire dinners and evening folk dances on special days.
The boat cruises through the creeks and backwaters are definitely not for the faint-hearted but give a unique opportunity to capture some breath-taking photos. Tiger encounter is not guaranteed but the cruise through the Sunderban forest is a memorable experience. A Sunderban Forest Tour would set you back by INR 5500 per head.
Kolkata is famous for its food and the tourists can learn the art of preparing delicious Bengali dishes by joining one of the many cookery classes in Kolkata. There are many acclaimed institutes in Kolkata that teach their students the art of preparing Bengali dishes. We did manage to attend a few classes and were highly impressed by the teaching methodology. The teaching experts taught us how to prepare fish curry and Bengali pulao (fried rice) and the classes are thoroughly enjoyable.
The JBL Academy of Culinary and Crème Caramel are two of the most popular cookery institutes in the city. Their charges are nominal and usually start from INR 3000 for a set of cookery classes. It is a real fun and a great experience – plus a brilliant opportunity to master the art of cooking Bengali dishes.