The main urban centre of the India’s east, Calcutta has often been cited as the country’s cultural capital and it is easy to see why. The city is rich in history and creativity and has carved a singular, unique identity of its own over the years. Surrounded by natural beauty, the city is not worth missing out on for those planning a trip to this fascinating land of contrasts.
Arguably the city’s most well-known building, the Marble Palace is a very impressive and well-preserved palatial building dating back to the 19th century. Known for its opulent, neoclassical design and the wealth of Western art and esoterica within its confines, the Marble Palace harkens back to colonial India. Elegant and eye-catching, the building is worth seeking out, especially for those with an interest in the city’s history.
One of the most naturally beautiful places in India, the Sundarbans are accessible through Calcutta and are an absolutely essential destination for visitors to the city. Known for its immense biodiversity, the Sundarbans is an expansive forest which is home to a number of animals and plants unique to the region including endangered species such as the Bengal Tiger. For those with a love for nature.
Mother Teresa’s Mother House
One of the city’s most prominent tourist sites, the ‘Motherhouse’ is the former residence and workplace of one of India’s most important icons: Mother Teresa, a Catholic missionary from Albania who left a significant impact on the country. The building is also her resting place. Due to its association with Mother Teresa the building has become a major pilgrimage site for travelling Christians, but is worth visiting for secular tourists as well due to the building’s cultural and historical significance.
South Park Street Cemetery
One of the most distinct cemeteries in the world, the South Park Street Cemetery dates back to 1767 and remained in use for over 50 years. The cemetery is known for its meshing of various architectural influences, blending Classical, Gothic and Indo-Saracenic styles to create a thoroughly unique space, complimented by a lush, tropical backdrop.
No country in the world is better known for its relationship with trains than India. Transportation in Calcutta however revolves around the tram system. It is home to ht oldest operating electric tram system on the continent, established over 100 years ago in 1902. The best way to get around the city, there are also a number of older trams still in operation, which provide a window into the city’s past.
Mud Statues of Kumortuli
One of the city’s most interesting areas is the Potter’s Quarter, a buzzing hub of creativity and craftsmanship. Located in a nondescript alleyway, the Mud Statues of Kumortuli are created from the banks of the Ganges River and exported across the country for the wealth of Indian festivals throughout the year. Known for their meticulous details, the mud statues are certainly worth seeing first hand.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden
One of the country’s most complete and beautiful botanic areas, these gardens contain a plethora of rare plant species from around the world, numbering around 12,000 unique species. Established towards the end of the 18th Century, the gardens remain a major tourist attraction in the present day, and it is easy to see why. The main draw of the gardens is The Great Banyan, an immense clonal colony, which needs to be seen to be believed.
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
A short journey from the city, the Dakshineswar Kali Temple is the region’s best-known place of worship. Located on the bank of the Hoogjly River, the temple is dedicated to the Hindu deity of Bhavatarini. An extensive complex dating back to the mid-19th Century the building is a great example of Bengal architecture, as demonstrated by its nine spires.
A major relic of the Colonial period in India, the Victoria Memorial was completed in 1921 in honour of the eponymous British monarch. A grandiose marble building, the memorial is one of the city’s major museums, containing a number of galleries of different specialisationa. Chief amongst these are the Calcutta Gallery, focusing on the history of the city and the Royal Gallery, which features a number of artworks dedicated to various members of the British Royal Family. Additionally, the museum is known for its illustrious gardens, which flank the Hooghly River.
Both the oldest and largest museum in the country, the Indian Museum is an absolutely essential destination for anyone with an interest in the country’s history and culture. Divided into six distinct sections, the museum is a comprehensive collection of the country’s cultural, historical and natural artefacts. Based in a large mansion, the museum is not worth missing out on, giving visitors an insight into the sheer breadth of the country’s identity.