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Places to visit in Calcutta

Discussion in 'West Bengal' started by Aakruti, Sep 11, 2016.

  1. Aakruti

    Aakruti New Member

    I am going to be attending a function in Calcutta, and so far I have planned to stay there for one day. I would stay for a longer duration if I knew what I could do and see there.

    I would need help from the forum to give some details about the places to visit in Calcutta. I can then make changed to the current plans I have of staying there for one day only, which would then be changed to staying there for 3-4 days instead.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Aakruti! Welcome to the forum!

    Calcutta is also known as Kolkata. It is the capital of the Indian state, West Bengal. It is the principal commercial, business and cultural centre of East India. It is also the third most populous metropolitan area in the country. It is the only city in eastern India to have an international airport. Sometimes, the city is referred to as the Cultural Capital of India. Calcutta was also the capital of India until 1911, when the capital was transferred to Delhi. Here are some of the best attractions in Calcutta:

    • Dakshineswar Kali Temple - This temple is located in Dakshineswar near Kolkata. You can find it on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River. The presiding deity of the temple is Goddess Bhavatarini, a manifestation of Goddess Kali. The temple was founded by Rani Rashmoni and was built between 1847 to 1855. This was after Goddess Kali appeared in a dream to Rani Rashmoni. The main sanctum of the temple houses an idol of Goddess Kali, standing on the chest of a lying Lord Shiva. Aside from Rani Rashmoni, the temple is also related to Ramakrishna. In fact, once he took over the temple until his death in 1886, he had brought so much fame to the temple already.
    • Birla Mandir - This temple was built by the Sompuras. Its construction started in the year 1970 but it took about 26 years before it was completed. In 1996, the temple was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh, under Swami Chidanandaji Maharaj. The main temple houses the idols of Krishna and Radha. The left side temple houses image of Durga. The right side temple houses Shiva. The temple sees a surge of devotees during the Janmashtami, the birthday of Krishna.
    • Parshwanath Jain Temple - This is also known as the Calcutta Jain Temple. This was built by Rai Badridas Bahadoor Mookim in 1867. The temple is dedicated to Parshwanath, the 23rd Jain tirthankar. The main sanctum houses the idol of the Lord Shitalnathji, with his forehead studded with diamonds. There are also other shrines dedicated to Chanda Prabhujidev, Dadagarudev Shri Jin Kushal Suri Ji Maharaj and Lord Mahaveera. The interiors of the temple have mirror-laid pillars and glass-stained windows. The exteriors of the temple has beautiful colours flower gardens and fountains. There's also a lamp burning with ghee inside the temple which is believed to have been continuously burning since 1867.
    • Kalighat Kali Temple - This temple is 1 of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Originally, the Kalighat was a ghat on the old course of the Hooghly River. The river, over a period of time, has moved away from the temple. The temple is now located on the banks of the Adi Ganga, which then connects to the Hooghly River. Since it is one of the Shakti Peethas, it represents the place where the toes of the right foot of the Goddess Sati fell. The temple was built by King Manasingha in the early 16th century, although a smaller temple has existed there even before then. The present temple was constructed by Santosh Roy Chowdhury in 1809 though.
    • Thanthania Kalibari - This temple was founded in 1803 by Shankar Ghosh. It is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali, which is known here as Siddheshwari. The temple sees a rise in visitors especially during the Kali Puja. The idol here is made of clay and painted with different colours of black and red each year.
    • St. John's Church - The construction for this church began in 1784 and was finally completed in 1787. It is the third oldest church in Calcutta and served as the Anglican Cathedral of Calcutta until 1847. The land for the church was donated by Maharaja Nabo Kishen Bahadur and the foundation stone was laid by Warren Hastings. The walls of the church contain memorials, statues and plaques, mostly of British officials and civil servants.
    • Nakhoda Mosque - This mosque was funded by Abdur Rahim Osman. The foundation stone for it was laid in 1926 and was completed the same year as well. Its prayer hall has a seating capacity of about 10,000. The mosque also has three domes and two main minarets. There are about 25 smaller minarets as well. The mosque is supposed to be an imitation of the mausoleum of Akbar in Agra.
    • Tipu Sultan's Mosque - This mosque was built by Prince Ghulam Mohammed in 1832. He is the youngest son of Tipu Sultan. The mosque was completed after 10 years, in 1842. One of the unique features of the mosque is that all people, from any religion or sect, are allowed to visit it. You can also take pictures within the religious complex.
    • Jorasanko Thakur Bari - This is the ancestral home of the Tagore family. This was where Rabindranath Tagore, the poet and first non-European Nobel laureate, was born and lived. The house is now a famous attraction in the city. It was arranged exactly as to how the Tagore family did so. There are also details about the Tagore family and their involvement in the Bengal renaissance here. During the poet's birthday, the management arranges regular cultural programs in the house.
    • Swami Vivekananda's Ancestral House - This was where Swami Vivekananda was born in 1863. Swami Vivekananda also stayed here for most of his childhood years. Sadly, after the death of Vivekananda's father, the house became under dispute as his aunt claimed possession of the house. It was only a few days before Vivekananda's death that the house was awarded in full possession back to his mother and family. The house now has a museum, a research centre, a memorial shrine, a library, an English centre, a computer training centre, and a charitable dispensary.
    • Fort William - There are two Fort Williams. The first one was constructed in 1696 by the East India Company. Sir Charles Eyre started the construction near the bank of the Hooghly River. The construction was finished by John Beard in 1702. However, in 1756, the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj Ud Daulah attacked the fort and conquered it. So the British constructed a new fort near the Maidan. The construction for the new fort begun in 1758 and was finished in 1781. This newer fort has a distinction of being the only fort in the world where not a single shot was fired.
    • Shobhabazar Rajbari - This is also known as the Shobhabazar Royal Palace. It was Raja Nabakrishna Deb who founded the palace, because of his accumulated wealth through his service to the British. He built two houses in his lifetime and the Shobhabazar Rajbari was the first one. This house was then inherited by his adopted son.
    • General Post Office - The site where the General Post Office is located is actually where the first Fort William was located. The infamous Black Hole of Calcutta can also be found near the General Post Office. The General Post Office is well-known for its high-domed roof and tall Corinthian pillars. There's also a Postal Museum here displaying a collection of artefacts and stamps.
    • Marble Palace - This palace was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835. Until now, the palace is the residence for the descendants of Raja Rajendra Mullick. The main house was designed using a Neoclassical style of architecture while the courtyards was designed using a Bengali style of architecture. The house has collections of European paintings, Western sculptures and Western furnitures. The Marble Palace Zoo is located next to the palace, the first zoo in Calcutta. Now though, it only serves as an aviary with some species of birds like peacocks and hornbills.
    • Nirmal Hirday - This is also known as Kalighat Home of the Pure Heart. This was formerly an abandoned Goddess Kali Temple but was converted into a hospice for the sick by Mother Teresa. It was opened in 1952 which was then known as Kalighat Home for the Dying. This is where the sick people were given medical attention and the dying were allowed to die with dignity.
    • Shaheed Minar - This was formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument. This was constructed in 1828, dedicated to Sir David Ochterlony. The monument was a symbolism of the victory of the defense against the Marathas in Delhi and also the victory over the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War. In 1969, the name was changed to Shaheed Minar, which means Marty's Monument. This was to commemorate the lives of the martyrs of the Indian independence movement.
    • Howrah Bridge - This is a cantilever suspension bridge over the Hooghly River. It was commissioned to be built in 1943 and was originally known as the New Howrah Bridge since it connects Howrah with Kolkata. It was later changed to Rabindra Setu in 1965 but until now, it's popularly known as the Howrah Bridge. Currently, it's the sixth longest of its type in the world.
    • Victoria Memorial Hall - This building was built between 1906 to 1921. It is dedicated to Queen Victoria but now houses a museum. The museum has about 25 galleries, namely: the royal gallery, the national leaders gallery, the portrait gallery, central hall, the sculpture gallery, the arms and armoury gallery and the newer, Calcutta gallery. This museum also has the largest collection of the artwork of both Thomas Daniell and William Daniell.
    • Indian Museum - This is the oldest and largest museum in the country. The museum was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1814. It has six sections namely: art, archaeology, anthropology, geology, zoology and economic botany. One of unique items in the museum is the Egyptian mummy, which is about 4,000 years old already. The organs of the mummy are taken out of the body through the nostrils, except its heart. There are also collections of fossils of prehistoric animals in the museum. Other items in the museum are rare antiques, art and collection of meteorites.
    • Science City - This is the largest Science centre in the country. It was Saroj Ghose who conceptualised this centre in 1997. The first part, the Convention Centre Complex, was inaugurated in 1996 and the whole centre was opened by 1997. In 2010, a second phase of the centre was also in the works and the foundation for it was laid. The centre has different sections: Dynamotion Hall, Earth Exploration Hall, Space Odyssey and Maritime Centre. It also has an outdoor Science Park where guests can interact with plants.
    • Birla Industrial and Technological Museum - It was Bidhan Chandra Roy who conceptualised this museum. The land for the museum was donated by Birla. It has the following galleries: biotechnology, children's gallery, electricity, fascinating physics, life science, mathematics, metals, mock-up coal mine, motive power, popular science, television and sport. It also has regular 3D shows, science shows and sky observations.
    • Mother's Wax Museum - This was established in 2014 and is the first wax museum in the country. It contains wax figures of about 19 famous personalities. Some of the famous personalities that have wax models here are Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and Mother Teresa. The museum is also named after Mother Teresa.
    • Birla Planetarium - This is the largest planetarium in Asia and the second largest planetarium in the world. It was inaugurated in 1963 by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. It has an astronomy gallery housing a collection of fine paintings and celestial models made by famous astronomers. It also has an astronomical observatory with a Celestron C14 telescope. There is also an electronics library for designing and creating science equipments. The planetarium also has daily shows held in English, Hindi and Bengali.
    • Nehru Children's Museum - This museum was established in 1972. The date of the inauguration was the birthday of the former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. The museum has four floors which all children would love to explore. The most famous attractions here are the dolls and toys gallery.
    • Kolkata Tram Museum - This museum is located inside a tram. The Smaranika Tram Car, where the museum is located, was built in the year 1938. The first class compartment of the tram has a cafeteria while the second class compartment has the museum proper. Some of the items in display here are the coin exchanger punch and the ticket pockets that conductors used to use in the 1950s. There are also smaller models of trams in the museum.
    • Eco Tourism Park - This park was established by Magmata Banerjee in 2011 and inaugurated in 2012. It has three zones, namely: ecological zones like wetlands, grasslands and urban forest, theme gardens with open spaces and urban recreational spaces. The park has a glasshouse, amphitheatre, lakefront promenade, rose garden, butterfly garden, musical fountains and islands. Activities like paddle boating, rowing, speed boating and kayaking can also be done here. You can also participate in activities like zorbing, archery, gun shooting and shikhara riding in here as well.
    • Prinsep Ghat - This is a ghat built in 1841 during the reign of the British Raj. It is one of the most visited places in Kolkata, even by locals. You can do boating in the river and even try eating at some of the food stalls here. A section of the ghat has illuminated pathways and fountains during night time.
    • Maidan - This is also known as the Brigade Parade Ground. It is the largest urban park in Kolkata. It is home to various play ground like the Eden Gardens (cricket venue), several football fields and the Kolkata Race Course. Because of the greenery that the grounds provides, it has been named as the Lungs of Kolkata. The Maidan stretches from the far north in Raj Bhavan up to the far south in Alipore. There are also numerous statues within the grounds, like Lord Curzon, Northbrook and Canning.
    • Rabindra Sarobar - This is located in the south of Calcutta, it refers both to the lake and the areas surrounding it. To the north is the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium and an open air theatre. To the south of the lake is the only Japanese Buddhist temple in Calcutta. On one of the islands of the lake, there is a mosque. Other popular attractions in the area are a toy train, swimming pool, safari garden and children's play centre.
    • Alipore Zoological Garden - This zoo has been opened since 1876. This is the oldest formally stated zoological park in the country. It is probably famous for being the residence of the Aldabra giant tortoise, who have lived for about 250 years in the zoo before its death in 2006. Other animals you can spot here are royal Bengal tigers, African lions, jaguars and Indian elephants.
    • Central Park - This is the second largest open space in Kolkata after the Maidan. The park was built around an expansive water body. There's a bridge connecting the main area to the island with a pagoda. It is also a haven for birdwatchers as there are species of birds here like the lesser whistling ducks, common moorhens, egrets and cormorants. The park also has a rose garden and butterfly garden.
    • Nicco Park - This park was opened in 1991. It is an amusement park with rides like the toy train, magic carpet, paddle boat, water chute, water coaster, flying saucer, pirate ship, river caves, cyclone and moon raker. There's also a cable car providing a panoramic view of the park from above. Other famous attractions in the park are water parks, rain dance performances and a 4D theatre. There are also food stalls selling delicious snacks to guests.
    • Aquatica Water Park - This water theme park was established in 1999. Some of the exciting water rides here are the following: the black hole, the wave pool, Niagara falls, surf racer, tornado and the aqua dance floor. There's also a Go Karting area as well as food courts. It also doubles as a resort since there are accommodation options within the park.
    There you go. I hope I have covered most of the important attractions in Calcutta. Have fun!

  3. vkar

    vkar Member

    Dakshineswar Temple (If you are the religious kind, then it's a must visit), Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum and Birla Planetarium are the most common and popular attractions in Kolkata. Science City is another popular attraction recently. There is also lot of parks that you may want to check out. Alipore zoo is another well known attraction.
  4. iamawriter

    iamawriter Member

    You have to visit this marvel - a forest created by a single Banyan tree. The air roots of this Banyan tree get into the soil creating new plants. The tree has so much expanse that there are roads cutting through this tree. It is a picnic spot and you could spend a day there

    Image Source: Wikimedia commons