Previously known as Calcutta, West Bengal’s capital of Kolkata has a storied history that began with the entrance of the East India Company in the late 1600s. Since then, Kolkata has developed into a bustling metropolitan area with a business district and upscale neighborhoods. New buildings are contrasted with old architecture that tells that tale of Kolkata’s past. Though its urban areas are apparent, Kolkata’s location near the Ganges Delta reveals a notable wetland and forest region for the outdoor explorer to enjoy. Kolkata is thriving with culture that can be witnessed through its ever-present creative scene among its many landmarks. These are our picks of the best things to do in Kolkata.
When one thinks of Kolkata, the Victoria Memorial Hall is ultimately the structure that comes to mind. A monument to the late Queen Victoria, the memorial also serves as a national gallery and tribute to the Indian Empire. Inside, paintings, rare photographs, sculptures and statues are on display. Exhibitions showcase different periods in India’s history, while a 57-acre garden offers a tranquil green space in the city. From archaeology to zoology, the Indian Museum in Kolkata is an homage to the country’s culture and heritage. In the art section, visitors can view Mughal, Bengal, Decorative Art and Textile as well as South East Asian galleries. The comprehensive museum also offers anthropology exhibits displaying musical instruments and masks as well as a geological section of local minerals and gems and a botany section of India’s natural beauty. For the scientifically-minded, the Science City Museum is just the ticket for learning about everything from space to maritime activity.
History & Culture
With hindu faith an integral part of Kolkata, the Dakshineswar Kali Temple is a historical attraction of religious significance. Mother House is another religious destination which honors Mother Teresa, displaying her personal items and former sleeping quarters adjacent to her tomb.
Visit the palatial Marble Palace, a 19th-century mansion, to admire its Neoclassical architecture with Corinthian pillars and vast gardens. The palace houses sculptures, paintings and there is even a Marble Palace Zoo on the premises. Wander the palace’s gardens, or opt for another outdoor excursion with a wildlife trek in Sundarbans National Park where you can see everything from kingfishers to tigers. For an outdoor activity with an athletic edge, Eden Gardens is the grounds of the Bengal cricket team and one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world. Catch a match on your trip to Kolkata for a taste of local entertainment.
Where to Stay
With 149 rooms, The Park maintains a boutique image among Kolkata’s city vibe. Relax at Aura Spa, which features seven treatment rooms as well as a gym, pool, salon and sauna. Stay in the 672 sq ft Presidential Suite for two-way airport transfer in a Mercedes-Benz, lounge access, large bedroom, living room and work desk area.
The Oberoi Grand
Enjoy round-the-clock butler service at this luxury hotel, which offers relaxing rituals at the Oberoi Spa as well as a variety of experiences from a trip along the spice route to a guided city tour. The expansive Presidential Suite covers 1,350 sq ft to include two large bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, dining room and five balconies with views of the garden and pool.
Taj Bengal Kolkata
This ultra-luxurious Taj hotel boasts an array of dining options including private dining with custom menus at the Casablanca Room. Service is at its best with the Golden Keys Concierge, which can only be enhanced by a stay in the Grand Presidential Suite. Overlook the Kolkata cityscape from the 940 sq ft suite and indulge with complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails.