Hello my dear readers,
How is your week so far? I hope everything is going smooth.
We have seen that eggplant or brinjal is grown on nearly 550,000 hectares in India, making the country the second largest producer after China with a 26% world production share, with major producing states West Bengal (30% production share), so let’s discover Kolkata also known as Calcutta.
Friendlier than India’s other metropolises, Kolkata is a city you ‘feel’ more than simply visit, also it is regarded as India’s intellectual, artistic and cultural capital.
Kolkata, the former capital of British India, it is a city that retains a feast of colonial-era architecture, contrasting clearly with marginalized urban areas and dynamic new-town suburbs.
Beside its rich history and ancient culture, here are some of the best places to visit in Kolkata which form an essential part of the city.
As its name is saying it, this white marble beauty was built in the memory of Queen Victoria and is spread over 57 acres of land, housing 21 lush green gardens, 28,394 artifacts, and 3,900 artistic paintings, making it one of the best places to visit in Kolkata. If you don’t have enough time to visit the interior, the building is still worth admiring from afar: there are spectacular photogenic views across reflecting ponds, or you can enjoy the huge, well-tended gardens, opened from dawn to dusk.
A private property, built in 1835 by a raja from the prosperous Mallick family, that still today is maintaining this resplendent nineteenth-century palatial mansion. Its regal architecture and unique design makes it one of the best restored royal family palaces in India, with marble-draped halls, overfilled with statues of thinkers and dancing girls, elegant glassware, game trophies and fine paintings of illustrious artists of the British Raj, including originals by Murillo, Reynolds and Rubens.
Is the former residence of India’s most renowned poet, Rabindranath Tagore, and now converted into a museum, which houses a photo gallery, including a 1930 photo of Tagore with Einstein, shot during a well-publicized meeting, fascinating paintings, and Tagore’s literary works. Known also as the ‘Jorasanko Thakur Bari’, Tagore’s house is one of the most important historical places in Kolkata.
For the more spiritual ones but not only, you may want to visit this large religious centre, the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission, which is inspired by 19th-century Indian sage Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, who preached the unity of all religions, and is set very beautifully amid palms and well curated lawns. What is very curious about this building is that its centerpiece is the 1938 Ramakrishna Mandir, which somehow manages to look like a cathedral, Indian palace and Istanbul’s Aya Sofya all at the same time. Various smaller shrines near the Hooghly riverbank include the Sri Sarada Devi Temple, entombing the spiritual leader’s wife, Sarada.
The nature lovers cannot miss this 273-acre botanical garden known for its extensive floral diversity, housing more than 12,000 different species of plants, including tea bushes smuggled in from China by the British and the 250-year-old ‘world’s largest banyan tree’. Located along the western banks of River Ganga, Botanical Gardens is a great place to escape from the city’s frazzling sounds and smells.
During offerings or prayers called pujas, we see a lot of clay effigies of deities and demons, which are created in workshops along Banamali Sarkar St by specialist sculptors called kumar. These craftspeople are very busy from August to October, creating straw frames, adding clay coatings, and painting divine features on idols for Durga and Kali festivals. Apart from gods and demons, you’ll often see statues of Victorian figurines, mythical demons, popular historical figures and local legends being constructed, as these are often used to decorate puja pandals.
There are plenty of options for your stay from budget hotels, elegant bungalows dated back from 1783 to charmingly luxury hotels, where you can admire the antiquities but also touches of modernity. Indulge yourself in immaculate accommodation and proactive staff that knows how to anticipate your every need.
Kolkata, has an eastern tropical climate, with light winters and hot and humid summers, which are not exactly the best season to visit.
The autumn and winter months between October and February are the best time to visit Kolkata, and is also the peak season for travelers, as the weather is perfect and festivities are plenty such as Durga Puja, the Hindu festival of Diwali.
In winter time temperatures are between 15°C and 29°C, the days are neither too hot nor too cold and the winter breeze is refreshing and cold, and the days are much calmer.
The second most popular celebration in Kolkata is the Hindu festival of Diwali, celebrated in November. You may enjoy the stunning firework show that is organised at night, and be amazed by the gloriously lit up Howrah Bridge. Christmas and New Year celebrations are also held with joy in Kolkata, with gorgeous trees being decorated in most public places.
Winter is also the best time to go on safaris and go for nature walks at Sundarban National Park to spot the majestic national animal of India, the Royal Bengal Tiger. Also, the mangrove forests are spectacularly beautiful and misty in winter, and the environment is sure to surprise you by seeing crocodiles, reptiles and birds in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every December Kolkata hosts an international book fair, which brings in book lovers from everywhere around the world. The city is a convergence of history, architecture, art and literature especially in winter, as literature festivals and art exhibitions are held in every part of Kolkata in these months.
Kolkata is the ideal place to experience the mild yet complex tang of Bengali cuisine, famous all over the world. Some of the dishes that it’s known for are Daab Chingri, Gondhoraj Chicken, Mutton Daak Bunglow, Kakrar Jhaal, and also many sweets.
The spicy, tangy and absolutely delectable dishes that Kolkata has to offer, will make it difficult for you to choose whether you like the spicy Bengali cuisine more or the melting flavors of the sweetmeats.
The best way to experience authentic Bengali food in Kolkata is by joining a local family and sitting down to enjoy a homemade meal with them.
So many delicacies 😋
Join me next time and I’ll share with you one of my childhood favorite food: salata de vinete.
Until then, don’t forget to eat in style and treat yourself well everyday 😉🌸
Also if you are a hopeless traveler like me, you may enjoy my previous posts and discover little by little our magnificent world.
- Discovering our world: Venice, Italy
- Discovering our world: Padua, Veneto, Italy
- Discovering our world: Gansu, China
- Discovering our world: Sicily, Italy
- Discovering our world: Genoa, Italy
Photo credit: Google Images, Pexels, edited by Popsicle Society