Kolkata boasts numerous sightseeing destinations that provide a distinct experience for every visitor. The city is adorned with a variety of captivating places to ensure its visitors are consistently delighted. From refreshing gardens, serene lakes, historical buildings, museums, libraries, and sports stadiums to ancient temples and churches, there are umpteen places to visit in Kolkata.
Exploring the city becomes even more captivating with its vibrant shopping streets, thrilling amusement parks, and delectable eateries. With these attractions and more, a visit to Kolkata is bound to enchant every traveler.
Baffled about what are the best things to do in Kolkata? Plug out your worries and sail your boat to the east for your quest for adventure. All of these experiences are something that one tends to cherish for a lifetime. Do not forget to mark out your favorites!
- Howrah Bridge – Capture The Beautiful Landscape
- Dakshineswar Kali Temple – Take Blessings
- Victoria Memorial Palace – Marvel At The Architecture
- Nicco Park – Have Some Fun Time
- Kolkata Race Course – Have Some Fun Time
- Eden Garden – Take A Plunge Into History
- Jorasanko Thakurbari – Explore The Place
- Science City – Enhance Your Knowledge
- Aquatica Water Park – Relax At This Picnic Spot
- Park Street – Shop Your Heart Out
Howrah Bridge :
Also known as Rabindra Setu, Howrah Bridge stands as a bustling testament to 20th-century engineering, holding the distinction of being the world’s busiest bridge. A prominent attraction in Kolkata, it spans the Hooghly River, stretching approximately 705 meters to connect Kolkata and Howrah.
Constructed in 1874 on two towering pillars each reaching 270 feet, the bridge is unique for its assembly without the use of nuts and bolts. Along the Hooghly River, two other bridges, namely Vivekananda Setu and Vidyasagar Setu, provide additional crossings.
The Howrah Bridge is a symbolic representation of Bengal’s rich history and culture, having witnessed pivotal events, including both World War I and II. During its construction, the bridge garnered acclaim as an architectural marvel, characterized as a ‘Suspension Type Balanced Cantilever’ structure and ranking as the third longest cantilever bridge globally.
Tata Steel played a crucial role, in supplying a significant amount of high-tension steel for the project, which incurred a total cost of INR 25 million. Today, the bridge stands as the world’s busiest cantilever bridge, facilitating the passage of over 200,000 vehicles and 150,000 pedestrians each day, serving as a vital gateway.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple :
Built-in 1847 on the banks of the River Hooghly, Dakshineswar Kali Temple is dedicated to Devi Bhavatarini, a manifestation of Goddess Kali. Commissioned by Rani Rashmoni, the Queen of Janbazar, the temple spans 25 acres and holds immense significance for Hindu devotees seeking blessings and solutions to their problems.
The temple’s history carries both spiritual and socio-political importance. Following the traditional ‘nav-ratna’ (nine spires) style associated with the Bengal School of Architecture, the structure took eight years and a staggering INR 900,000 to complete.
Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, an ardent devotee of Goddess Kali, played a crucial role in the temple’s fame after becoming the head priest. His influence led to significant socio-religious changes in Bengal. Rani Rashmoni, the temple’s founder, also contributed to its reputation by opening its gates to all sections of society, and breaking barriers of class, caste, creed, and religion.
The main temple’s massive courtyard features 12 smaller Shiva temples, each with identical black stone shivalingas. Representing the 12 Jyotirlingas, these temples are constructed in the typical Bengal architectural style known as ‘Aat-Chala’ (eight eaves). It was within one of these Shiva temples that Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa attained enlightenment.
Victoria Memorial :
Victoria Memorial is an essential stop for anyone visiting Kolkata. Erected in honor of Queen Victoria, this memorial was unveiled to the public in 1921. The design credit goes to William Emerson, a distinguished architect and then President of the British Institute of Architects.
Regarded as one of the country’s premier art museums, Victoria Memorial boasts a diverse collection of paintings depicting royal British families, lithographs, historical documents, and artifacts. The monumental structure, standing at 184 feet tall and sprawling across 64 acres, showcases remarkable architecture.
The extensive grounds of Victoria Memorial feature well-manicured lawns and gardens surrounding the museum building, complemented by two sizable pools. Lord Redesdale and David Prain were the masterminds behind the design of these gardens and lawns.
Upon entering through the museum gates, visitors are greeted by two marble lions, and beyond them stands the colossal bronze statue of Queen Victoria, crafted in England and transported to India.
Delving into some intriguing trivia, the construction of Victoria Memorial spanned 15 years, with a hefty price tag of INR 10,500,000. Notably, a significant portion of the funding came from Indian princely states.
Nicco Amusement Park :
Situated in the upscale Salt Lake City of Greater Kolkata, Nicco Amusement Park sprawls across 40 acres, making it the largest amusement park in Eastern India. It’s an ideal spot for spending an entire day at leisure, enjoying quality time with family.
Opened to the public in 1991, the park boasts over 35 attractions, including water rides and amusement rides like the Toy Train, Tilt-a-Whirl, Striking Cars, Paddle Boat, Water Chute, Water Coaster, Flying Saucer, Pirate Ship, River Caves, Cyclone, and Moonraker.
Nicco Amusement Park, situated in the upscale Salt Lake City of Greater Kolkata, sprawls across 40 acres, making it the largest amusement park in Eastern India. Ideal for a full-day excursion, the park opened its gates to the public in 1991, offering a diverse array of attractions, including water rides such as the Water Chute and Water Coaster, as well as amusement rides like the Toy Train, Tilt-a-Whirl, Striking Cars, Paddle Boat, Flying Saucer, Pirate Ship, River Caves, Cyclone, and Moonraker.
Certified as a green park, Nicco Park features a greenhouse with a variety of plants cultivated and sold by the Indo-American Hybrid Seeds Limited. This organization also manages the greenhouse. The park operates as a joint venture between Nicco Corporation Limited and the Government of West Bengal. The concept of establishing an amusement park originated from Rajive Kaul, the Chairman of the Nicco Group, during the 300th anniversary celebration of the founding of Kolkata.
In addition to the entertaining rides and exhibits, the park offers educational recreation for children. Numerous educational exhibits within the park provide information on the scientific mechanisms behind each ride, displayed prominently at the entrance gates of the rides. The park also houses a solar energy village, providing children with insights into the utilization of non-conventional energy sources as alternatives to fossil fuels, contributing to conservation efforts.
Kolkata Race Course:
Being one of the oldest racecourses in India, the Kolkata Race Course proudly hosts the site of the inaugural horse race. Its picturesque setting adds to its allure, making it a must-visit destination on your Kolkata tour. While horse races are typically held on public holidays and weekends, the optimal time to experience this venue is from September to March.
Maintained by the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, established in 1820 for the East India elites, the race course originally served as a communal space for social gatherings, sports, and various amusements. It stands as a poignant reminder of the colonial era.
Adjacent to the race course is a polo ground often hailed as the best in India. In the absence of horse races, the city’s elite frequently engage in polo matches organized by the Royal Calcutta Turf Club.
As the oldest cricket ground in India, Eden Gardens stands as a cricket pilgrimage for enthusiasts, earning its reputation as one of the most iconic stadiums globally. This venue has witnessed numerous historic moments in the world of cricket.
Boasting a seating capacity of 68,000, Eden Gardens has undergone several enhancements since its inception. The inaugural first-class match graced its grounds in 1917-18. The first test match unfolded in 1934, while the inaugural ODI match took place in 1987. A visit to this stadium is a must when in Kolkata.
Not only is it the largest cricket stadium in India, but it also ranks as the second largest globally, surpassed only by the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia. Serving as the home ground for the Bengal Ranji Team and the IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, Eden Gardens is renowned for its spirited and boisterous crowd, earning the moniker ‘The Lords of the Indian Subcontinent,’ as coined by former Australian captain Steve Waugh.
A curious fact about Eden Gardens is its original name, ‘Auckland Circus Gardens,’ which underwent a change to ‘Eden Gardens’ in honor of the Eden sisters, Emily and Fanny Eden, siblings of Lord Auckland Eden.
Jorasanko Thakurbari :
A trip to Kolkata would be incomplete without a visit to the ancestral residence of one of its most revered citizens—the first Asian to clinch the prestigious Nobel Prize. Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the familial abode of Rabindranath Tagore, a renowned poet and artist, is an essential destination in Kolkata.
The Thakur Bari, meaning the ‘House of Tagores,’ has been transformed into Rabindra Bharati University, functioning as a center for Indian Classical Fine Arts and providing quality education. In 1961, a segment of the building was converted into Rabindra Bharati Museum, showcasing the lives and tales of all members of the Tagore family. This grand ‘red brick’ mansion spans an impressive 35,000 square meters.
Rabindranath Tagore was not the sole luminary in this household; every member of the Tagore family was distinguished in various fields, including the women. It’s intriguing to note that the purdah system, prevailing in pre-independent India, was not adhered to in the Tagore household. Women were actively encouraged to engage in discussions spanning politics, culture, art, literature, business, and worldly affairs. Exploring the museum provides insight into this aspect, offering a better understanding of the family dynamics.
Today, Jorasanko Thakur Bari remains a focal point for artists and art enthusiasts worldwide. Its popularity endures from the pre-independence era when this mansion played a pivotal role in various reformative activities, including the Bengal Renaissance and Brahmo Samaj.
Science City :
The Science City in Kolkata stands out as the largest science center in the entire Indian subcontinent, making it a compelling destination for visitors seeking a unique blend of science and entertainment. Established in 1997, this attraction is a part of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) with the primary goal of popularizing science.
Situated on a sprawling 50-acre land, the Science City was built on what was once a dumping ground for over a century. The complex is divided into two distinct sections: the Science Centre and the Convention Centre. The Convention Centre was inaugurated in December 1996 by Paul Jozef Crutzen and Mr. Jyoti Basu, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal. The entire facility was officially inaugurated by Mr. Indra Kumar Gujral, the then Prime Minister of India, in July 1997.
This renowned center attracts both domestic and international tourists, offering a dedicated section for aquatic life that features exotic fish and insects. Notable attractions within the Science City include Space Odyssey, Dynamotion, Science Exploration Hall, Maritime Centre, Earth Exploration Hall, and a sprawling Science Park.
Aquatica Water Park :
Spread across 17 acres, Aquatic Water Park in Kolkata stands as the largest water-themed park in Eastern India. Situated near Rajarhat township in Hatgachia and established in 1999, this park is a must-visit for those seeking a weekend getaway in Kolkata.
True to its name, the park’s primary allure lies in its diverse array of themed water rides. However, beyond the aqua adventures, the premises also house resort facilities. Guests can choose between deluxe and super deluxe rooms, providing an opportunity for a relaxed weekend stay.
The themed water rides cater to all age groups, offering attractions such as Jungle Safari, Black Hole, Raft Slide, Aqua Dance, Niagara Falls, Cyclone, Wave Pool, Lazy River, The Family Pool, Pendulum, and Multi-lane. Among these, the Wave Pool stands out as the most popular and in high demand.
In addition to accommodations and rides, Aquatica Park extends its services to corporate and large-scale events, including weddings and receptions. Purpose-built conference halls, party lawns, and the Aqua Hall are available for hosting wedding receptions and large-scale corporate events requiring formal sit-down dinners.
The three open lawns, namely Aqua Lawn (the largest), Central Lawn (surrounded by the lazy river), and Niagara Lawn (featuring the Niagara Fall ride as a picturesque backdrop), provide versatile spaces for various events and gatherings.
When in Kolkata, one cannot and must not avoid a visit to Park Street, the nerve center of the city’s evening recreations and happening nightlife thereby gaining its reputation as ‘the street that never sleeps’. The Park Street area is thronged with youngsters and elites alike due to the variety of places it offers.
Apart from being the hub of the most prominent landmark heritage buildings of the city, Park Street is also famous for its food, hence, is also called the ‘Food Street’. It is the place where the iconic South Park Street Cemetery is situated, which is considered among the most haunted places in India.
Some of the famous restaurants and nightclubs in the area are Trinca’s, Peter Cat, Moulin Rouge, Mocambo, Blue Fox, Charcoal Grill, Tung Fong, Over the Top, and Only Pub. Park Street also offers a shopping experience for both street shoppers and elites.
In conclusion, Kolkata is a city that captivates with its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. These ten spectacular places offer a glimpse into the various facets of this charming metropolis. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a spiritual seeker, Kolkata in 2024 promises an unforgettable experience. Plan your trip wisely, and let the City of Joy weave its magic on you.