Another blog entry was written by Nicky Millar, for more about who she is, and about her awesome travel/volunteering adventure check her blog.
Kolkata, what can I say… WOW! Honestly, I am not sure if I was naive in my expectations or if the recent read of the City of Joy was too fresh in my mind, but this city is not at all what I anticipated!
Pictures from Nicky’s trip to Kolkata
Arriving from Varanasi, I went straight to Kolkata Backpackers Homestay, one of my favourite places to stay in India! Rajarshi not only provides the yummiest breakfast on the block but goes out of his way to help you enjoy and explore this amazing city. The house is a couple of metro stops away from the infamous Sudder Street, and for me, that was a bonus. It forces you to explore the city beyond the 500m backpacker radius and enables you to experience Indian hospitality at its best!
During the weekend and in the evenings I managed to get a feel for a city I began to love! The people are so friendly and helpful, the food is sensational and the colours are breathtaking. Overall, it is truly an enjoyable place and you cannot help but get caught up in the excitement.
Local Cabs in Kolkata (Photo Credit – Paul Hamilton)
Best places to visit in Kolkata
The main attractions are the Indian Museum, Sudder Street and New Market. All are natural magnets to locals and tourists alike, and you can really go wild with the shopping. Cheap, cheap, cheap! No other market place will you experience such intensity as India as you walk through the aisles.
My second most loved outing was visiting the flower market just under the Howrah Bridge. If you have a chance visit it at the crack of dawn. The sights and smells are a splendid way to start the day, and the banter among workers is rather catchy. I got to experience the morning ritual of those who lived nearby. Unfortunately, I did not manage to see the traditional wrestlers that come down to the ghats, but the experience was still surreal.
One of the best places to visit in Kolkata is Park Street, the fancy part of town! Here is a strip of all the shops, restaurants and bars you could ever want. All is only a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Sudder Street. I was fortunate enough to be in this city for Christmas. While I did not have the willpower to tackle the crowds here on the 25th, I frequented many times prior to the big day and was so warmed by the festive spirit. The entire street was lit up and filled up with Christmas cheer, treats and delicious foods. Kolkata really celebrates every holiday and boy does it deliver!
Flower Market, Howrah Bridge, Kolkata (Photo Credit – Achilli Family Journeys)
Victoria Memorial Park
My favourite attraction has to be to Victoria Memorial Park! If you knew me you would feel that this is quite uncharacteristic for me to visit. However, if I could recommend one thing it is to get yourself a picnic, pay the INR 4 to enter the grounds and absorb the atmosphere. I coincidently went on a weekend and it was absolutely fabulous to see happy families basking in the sun, playing badminton and mastering the skill of selfies. It is a serene place a million miles from the Indian bustle (in reality not even 500m away). The area provided a wonderful glimpse into the inspiring family‐centric attitude of this country.
My final word of advice is to let yourself get lost! Seriously, this is a city that you have to feel and if there was ever a place to lose your way then this would be it. The city is easy to locate where you are but if you lose your way locals are friendly and always willing to help. If worst comes to worst there are also a gazillion quaint yellow taxis ready to whisk you off to wherever your heart desires!
Don’t know how to incorporate Kolkata in your India travel plans, feel free to get in touch.
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