Calcutta - The cultural heart of modern India. The second largest city in India is a “holiday every day”: a holiday of life, where wealth and poverty, high culture and extreme despair coexist. The old pronunciation of the name of the city causes most Western natives to associate with human suffering. But for the locals, Calcutta is an intellectual and cultural capital. Poverty, of course, is evident, but at the same time, neat and elegantly dressed Bengal gentlemen continue to visit quite a lot of chic old gentlemen's clubs, put horses on horses at the Calcutta Hippodrome and play at one of the best golf courses in India.
As the former capital of British India, Calcutta retained the solemnity of the colonial era architecture, although many buildings are now in dilapidated condition, representing an excellent object for photography. At the same time, urban slums contrast with the dynamic outskirts of the new city and the shopping arcades, which are vibrant and always cool thanks to air conditioning. Calcutta is the perfect place to experience the light, mild and fruity flavors of Bengali cuisine. Being friendlier than other Indian cities, Calcutta makes you feel a little more than just a guest.
The impressions of a traveler who first visited Calcutta can be compared with complete confusion. Familiar English street names and Victorian buildings are reassuring, but the noise, traffic jams in the streets and the dirt and poverty are really scary. The roads here are filled with people, animals, cars, cars and rickshaws competing for free space. If you suddenly see a dead body floating down the Hooghly River, do not take it as something out of the ordinary, then you will adapt to this unusual city. Take your time, inspect tall houses along narrow side alleys, where foliage casts a patterned shadow on the facades of buildings, and you will feel the soulful soul of this mysterious and poor Indian city.
When the body of Kali, the wife of the god Shiva, was dismembered after her death, the little finger of his right leg appeared on the banks of the Hooghli River (Hooghly), and it was there that a village called Calicata arose (Kalikata). Together with the villages of Sutanuti (Sutanuti) and govindpur (Govindpur).
Despite Calicata (now Caligath) many centuries attracted the flow of pilgrims, in 1686 the Calcutta area was a quiet backwater, when the English merchant Job Charnock appeared here. He decided that this place was perfect for a new colonial settlement, and a few decades later a miniature version of London grew up here with magnificent buildings and English churches on wide boulevards and with chic gardens of strict geometric shapes. But beautiful illusions were quickly dispelled on the outskirts of Calcutta, where Indians serving the gentlemen of the English lived in tight, crowded slums.
The most powerful blow to a dizzying sprawling city was dealt in 1756, when Siraj-ud-dawla (Siraj-ud-daula), Navab of neighboring Murshidabad (Murshidabad)captured the city. Dozens of representatives of the colonial aristocracy were arrested and locked in a small room under Fort William (Fort William). By morning, about 40 of them died of suffocation. The British press exaggerated the numbers, allowing rumors to cause a wave of indignation and anger among the British: the legend of the "black hole of Calcutta" was born.
Next year Lord Robert Clive (Clive Indian) returned Calcutta to England. Nawab sought support from the French, but was defeated at the Battle of Plassi (now Broadsword)mainly due to the betrayal of former allies. A stronger fort was built, and Calcutta became the official capital of British India. Where Sadder Street is now passing, at the end of the XVIII century.there were bamboo forests where tigers were hunted. At the end of the XIX century. The Bengal Renaissance movement gave a powerful impetus to cultural development among the middle class of Calcutta. The decision to divide Bengal, made in 1905 and not received the approval of the masses, added even more oil to the fire and accelerated the process of awakening, sowing among the people seeds of discontent that had grown up in the Indian independence movement. Bengal reunited in 1911, but the British quickly moved their colonial capital to the less hectic Delhi.
The loss of political power immediately seriously affected the economy of Calcutta. But complete destruction and devastation occurred after another separation in 1947. While almost equal exchange of populations took place in western Pakistan and Punjab, migration in Bengali was, on the whole, one-sided. About 4 million Hindu refugees from East Bengal arrived in Calcutta, crowding out locals in already crowded slums. At some point, people did starve to death on the streets, creating Calcutta as an image of a city of extreme poverty. Before she could digest these refugees, a new wave arrived - as a result of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
After the division of India, the port of Calcutta received a strong blow, having lost the bulk of the remote area, now left behind the closed border of Pakistan (later Bangladesh). Worker discontent grew and the situation got out of control of the dominant city party (Communist Party of India), which threw all its forces into the struggle against the feudal land tenure system. Well-intentioned, they tried to establish strict rental control, but these attempts turned against them: when tenants pay several rupees a month, landowners lose interest in maintaining or updating their property, as a result of which many beautiful old buildings begin to crumble before our eyes.
In 2001, Calcutta officially received a name that more closely matches its sound - Kolkata (however, most continue to call the city the old way). Around the same time, the city administration took a new, more business-friendly position, which led to a noticeable improvement in the economic situation. The most noticeable result is the emergence of numerous suburban shopping centers and multi-storey residential buildings, as well as the rapid construction of sector 5 in Salt Lake City as an alternative corporate and entertainment center of Calcutta, although it is not included in the route of most tourists.
The opinion of Calcutta as a city where poverty and desolation reigns, is so deeply rooted in the world that the pride that residents feel for their city, for its developed culture is genuinely amazed. The Bengalis are restless and tireless, probably the hard life in the 14 millionth city with its everyday problems has aggravated their mind and vitality. To survive here is a whole art that requires a creative approach. It is no coincidence that Calcutta has always been and continues to be the intellectual and cultural capital of the country even after the government moved to Delhi.
Calcutta was the birthplace of writer Rabindranath Tagore, the first Indian Nobel Prize winner, and philosophers Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Here, as before, creative people continue to “grow”. After a rather dry, focused on the ruling circles of the Delhi press, Calcutta newspapers seem entertaining, splashing life and even caustic-ironic. If the filmmakers of Mumbai are masters of melodrama, then the movie of Calcutta, known for its sensitivity and poetry, in the hands of such masters as Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, fully reflects rural and urban life. The spirit of the city is very consistent with the best museum of the country located here, which could be most appropriately called the Museum of India.
What to see
Even if you are not traveling by train, it is better to start exploring Calcutta from Houra Station.In these swirling crowds you will receive a “baptism of fire” and soon you will realize that only very few are really going to go somewhere. For the majority, the station serves as a home: its lobby and platforms - they have both a bedroom and a kitchen.
The next interesting object is the botanical gardens, a place of rest laid in the XVIII century. The subject of pride is 35 thousand species of flowers and shrubs growing in them.
The first cuttings of tea bushes came here from China and subsequently grew into Darjeeling and Assam plantations. The pride of these places is a 200-year-old banyan tree - an incredibly overgrown fig tree, Ficus bengalensis. Some tree mushroom destroyed its central trunk, but it continues to grow and bloom magnificently, and the total circumference of its aerial roots-supports is 330 m.
Riverbank connects Howrah bridge (Howrah Bridge), which in itself is a national monument. This is a 705-meter abstraction of steel consoles and exhaust. Built during World War II, it remains one of the busiest bridges in the world and an architectural icon. To get a better view of it, try pushing yourself through the Mullik Ghat flower market to the Mullik Ghat itself. It is forbidden to take pictures of the bridge, but compliance with this rule has recently been poorly controlled. If you are stopped here, you can sneak a picture from one of the many river ferries that run along the Hoogley River. (Hoognly)carrying passengers to the huge Howrah train station dating from 1906
In the center of Calcutta is another park, Maidan (Maidan). It was broken so as to make a clear line of fire around Fort William (Fort William)expanded by Robert Clive after the Battle of Plessis. Like the British Hyde Park, Maidan attracts a lot of amateur, but very ardent speakers, fans to predict the end of the world, but charlatans of all kinds peddling “drugs” and all kinds of dubious substances come here.
In its north side stands the 48-meter-high Okterloni Monument (Ochterlony Monument)set in 1828 in honor of the British general Sir David Okterloni, whose maneuver (go to the flank of the enemy) against the Gurkhas near Kathmandu was decisive in the Anglo-Nepalese war of 1814-1815. With its peculiar eclectic architectural style, this monument is one of the many attractions of Calcutta, and the new name Shahid Minar (Martyrs Memorial) it still has not taken root and still serves as the goal of violent political battles. Paradise Gardens are also located on the river bank. (Eden Gardens) with a bridge and pagoda, as well as the main cricket ground in Calcutta.
Victoria Memorial (Victoria Memorial) brings to your attention the history of English domination in India, built in the style of the English Renaissance with some influence of the Mughal style. White marble for him was brought from the quarry of Rajasthan (Rajasthan), the same marble was once used in the construction of the Taj Mahal.
The monument to Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, was erected on "voluntary donations" by the Maharajas and Nawabs and completed in 1921. Recently, historians engaged in English domination in India are increasingly reminding us that in fact this construction was "paid »The lives of 20-30 million peasants who died during the third and most devastating famine of the whole series.
Chowringa Road runs along the eastern edge of Maidan (Chowringhee Road, Nehru Road), limiting the old European region, whose large mansions once brought Calcutta the long-awaited title of “city of palaces”. Today it is a bustling shopping street with large hotels and cinemas, giant movie posters and a roadway clogged with a variety of vehicles. You can admire the Indian avant-garde at the Academy of Fine Arts (Academy of Fine Arts)located on the southeast corner of the Maidan.
Museum of India (Indian Museum) at the intersection of Chowringa Road and Sadder Street, it is a true treasury of works of art from the Mauryev and Gupta era. In the Bharhut Gallery (Bharhut Gallery) gorgeous carved fences of stupa of Bharhut (II century B.C.)made in the Buddhist style and comparable to the carved fences of the stupa in Sanchi. In the Gandhara Hall (Gandhara Room) Buddha's earliest anthropomorphic sculptures presented (1st century A.D.).
Dalhousie Square (Dalhousie Square), located north of Maidan at the site of the construction of the first fort, William, was once the focus of the British imperial bureaucracy. Here the scribes of the East India Company - everyone respectfully called them a woman (babus) - copied everything that came to their hand in the Writers' Building.
Now the building serves the government of West Bengal, however, the number of women there has not decreased at all.
To determine the original location of the legendary Black Hole (Black hole) in the decorated with a dome building of the General Post Office on the western side of Dalhousie Square, you will need the services of a detective, since most Indians are not eager to help you with this. They tend to consider this situation as an element of carefully thought-out pro-English propaganda designed to justify the long-standing repression conducted by Clive. This place is marked with a special plate on the arch in the northeast corner of the post office.
Most of the buildings erected in India by the British before the beginning of the 20th century were built not by architects, but by military engineers who simply copied similar buildings in their homeland. Majestic Raj Bhawan (Raj Bhavan, Governor's residence), located exactly north of Maidan, repeats the famous Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire and until 1911 served as the residence of the Viceroy of India. The nearby Church of St. John (St John's Church) - the first Christian cathedral in Calcutta - is the Indian version of the London St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, in the southern aisle of the church you will see a very interesting image of the Last Supper by Johann Zoffani. As a model, the artist used the employees of the East India Company, and in the form of Judas portrayed his worst enemy, Mr. Paul.
At the local cemetery is the tombstone of Job Charnock, the employee of the company that founded the city of Calcutta.
Marble Palace (Marble Palace), a somewhat eccentric tribute to Western art and architecture, is located on the small street of Muktaram Babu Street, northeast of Dalhousie Square. This huge villa-museum in the neoclassical style of Andrea Palladio was built by the family of the wealthy landowner Raja Majendra Mullik Bahadur, adjacent to the villa is a park with a collection of exotic birds. The villa resembles the castle of William Randolph Hurst in California, in which, not at all contradicting each other, but rather inspiring imagination, there are ancient Roman and Chinese sculptures, elegant candelabra of Venetian glass, Sevres porcelain, paintings of ancient Flemish masters and playful French erotica. The spirit of the eccentric Mullik still hangs around, now playing Chopin in the ballroom, then rolling billiard balls in the living room.
In the north and northeast of the BBC Bagha there is a whole scattering of religious buildings. Each separately is not worth much attention, but it makes sense to wander between them and see with your own eyes the most noisy, erratic, but vibrant streets of Calcutta, crowded with merchants, rickshaws, porters, dragging incredible burdens on their heads. Among the paper shops in Old China Bazaar (Old China Bazaar St) hiding Nazareth Armenian Church (Armenian Church of Nazareth) XVIII century It was founded in 1707 and claimed the title of Calcutta's oldest Christian church. Gravestones in a quiet courtyard behind the church date back to 1630. The church is low, but maintained in the correct proportions. The white spire of the clock tower is best seen from Bonfield Lane (Bonfield Lane). Portuguese Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Rosary (Holy Rosary Cathedral) 1797 attracts attention with side towers crowned with crowns, as well as the interior, the idea for which was the style of festive kitsch.
The Jewish community of Calcutta once numbered about 30,000 people, but today it is barely possible to count 40 aged co-religionists visiting the synagogue of Mogan David on rare holidays (Moghan David Synagogue, Canning St, by agreement with the gatekeeper), which on the outside looks like a church with a high spire. Around the corner is the abandoned synagogue Neveh Shalom (Neveh Shalome Synagogue, Brabourne Rd) - it is practically not visible behind the shops and stalls that use it as a warehouse. Opposite a dilapidated post office (Pollock St Post Office), the building of which previously housed a Jewish school, stands the BethEI synagogue (Pollock Street)decorated with columns inside. You can visit it only with written permission, which, oddly enough, is given out in the office in the bakery Nakhum (Nahoum, Stall F-20, New Market, 9: 30-20: 00 Mon-Sat, 9: 30-13: 00 Sun.). Worry for two days!
Above the bright windows of the charming Rabindra Sarani (Rabindra Sarani) the Nakhod mosque rises (Nakhoda Mosque) 1926 (1 Zakaria Street) - An impressive work of red arches with an abundance of domes and minarets. This is a variation on the theme of the Akbar Mausoleum in Sikandra.
For about two centuries in the Fiers Lane area (Phears Lane) lived mainly Christian Chinese community. Many of its members fled or were interned during the anti-Chinese sentiment during the 1962 war. Today, the “old” Chinatown is very worn out and exhausted, but it’s still an interesting place where you can feel the contrasts of Calcutta. On the corner of Damsen Lane's broken street you will find the Chinese Song Church (Nam Soon)similar to a tomb. Big turquoise gates stand a little further (10 Damzen Lain)built for local elephants. Formerly chic, Nangking Restaurant (1924, Lushun Sarani) now it’s just ruins near a garbage dump, a source of life for the homeless and poor, eking out a miserable existence in cardboard shacks on neighboring sidewalks. A very pathetic sight.
Dawn at Tiretgas Bazaar (Tiretta's Bazaar) lively trade begins. By 10:00 it stops and the old Chinese shop Hap Hing closes (10 Sun Yat Sen St, 6: 00-10: 00 Monday-Saturday, 6: 00-8: 30 Sunday)whose owner, Stela Chen, can tell you more about the community and sell a color book with pictures and a CD kit called Chinatown Kolkata (500 rupees).
Remember that in Calcutta there is a second Chinatown, further east, in Tangra (Tangra)where tanneries produced leather for many shoemakers of this community. This is a rather nondescript area, where about 50 Chinese families live and there are about the same number of Chinese restaurants.
Cozy family castle of Rabindranath Tagore owned by the University of Rabindra Bharati (1784, 246D Rabindra Sarani, Indians / Foreigners 10/50, students 5/25, 10: 30-16: 30 Tuesday-Sunday) became a kind of memorial museum of the greatest of modern poets of India. Even if his personal belongings did not impress you, some of the carefully selected quotes may arouse interest in Tagore's deeply universalist philosophy. There is a modest gallery with paintings by members of his family and his contemporaries, as well as an exhibition of things telling about his connection with Japan. A photograph of Tagore with Einstein, taken in 1930, could win the main prize in the competition for "the most shaggy hairstyle in the world." It will take you about an hour to see everything, but most casual visitors have a cursory acquaintance.
Sitting on the trams, passengers traveling to Bagbazar (Bagbazar) and in Kumartuli (Kumartuli), can watch how successive pictures from the life of Calcutta sweep past.
Caligath Temple (5: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-22: 00) - The ancient Kali temple, the most sacred place for Hindus and, possibly, the source of the name of the city itself. The modern version of the temple, rebuilt in 1809, is decorated with floral motifs with images of peacocks on tiles, which give this building more Victorian than Indian style. Only queues of crowded pilgrims eager to enter the main hall to throw hibiscus flowers into the image of the three-eyed crowned Kali can be more interesting than the building itself. No need to join them to feel the atmosphere of the holiday (lounging priests offering to lead you to the beginning of the line will await a generous “donation”). Behind the belfry, but still on the territory of the Mandir complex, a ritual killing of goats is carried out in honor of the almighty goddess or, as local guides describe it, with the aim of obtaining "divine power."
The temple lurks in a labyrinth of streets, sandwiched between market stalls selling flowers, brass items, religious items, and Kali images. Walk from Calighat Metro Station (with a four-story mosaic portrait of Mother Teresa) in the direction of the dirty and foul-smelling stream of Tholisnal (Tolisnala)where is the burning ghat of Shangar (Snanagar Burning Ghat) with an impressive “crowd” of monuments glorifying those kosh cremated here. Turn north onto Tolligan Road (Tollygunge Rd), which turns into a Caligath Road after a quarter (Kalighat Rd). The temple is on the right. (down the sidewalk) for Nirma, Hriday (Nirmal Hriday, 251 Caligath Road). This is, although a small, but world-famous house of mother Teresa for the dying. At the corners of its roof are small domes in the Neo-Mughal style.
First opened in 1875, Calcutta Zoo (Alipore Road (Alipore Rd), entrance 10 rupees, 9: 00-17: 00 Friday-Wednesday) An area of 16 hectares includes extensive lawns, walking paths by the lake, which are very popular among vacationers, although everything is scattered with garbage. Some fenced areas are less accessible than others, but many of them were in the process of reconstruction at the time of the study - both here and across the road, in a negligible small aquarium (entrance 3 rupees, 10: 30-17: 00 Friday-Wednesday). Bus number 230, coming from Rabindra Sadan, passes by this place. There is an access road just south of the entrance to the zoo (private) to the national library (www.nlindia.org)looping envelope similar to Curzon's royal mansion (Curzon Mansion), the former residence of the Viceroy of the colony. About 1 km southeast are the delightful garden nurseries (entrance 10 rupees, 6: 00-10: 00 and 14: 00-19: 00)offering visitors a break from city noise.
On your first day in Calcutta, admire the Victoria Memorial (Victoria Memorial) and the surrounding beauties, then visit India Tourism to get a pass to the Marble Palace (Marble Palace)valid for two days and then head to Park Street or Camac Street (Park, Camac Sts)where you can have dinner and dance. On the second day, go wandering around the crumbling wonderland of the colonial era - BHD Bagh (BBD Bagh)plunge into the daily life of the delightful and exciting streets of Old Chinatown (Old Chinatown) and Barabazar (Barabazar) and look at howrah bridge (Howrah Bridge) from the colorful flower market Mullik Ghat (Mullik Ghat). Refresh yourself with a beer at Fairlawn. On the third day, visit the Marble Palace and explore the surrounding beauty. Then go to Kumartuli (Kumartuli) directly or make a big loop through Dakashineswar (Dakshineswar) and Belur Math, returning back by boat.
In addition to the above, consider working as a volunteer for a day or more. Visit Mother Theresa's Mother's House, then take the tram to the cemetery in South Park Street and dine at Shiraz. Feel the contrasts of Southern Calcutta, get to know the “clubs of laughter”, taste the excellent Bengali cuisine, witness the goat sacrifice in Calighat, visit the art galleries in Gariahat. Consider hiring or not hiring a rickshaw pulling a wagon on yourself, whether to play golf or tremble with excitement at the racetrack. Join an excursion to West Bengal, to Sundarbans (Sundarbans).
- Dover Lane Music Conference (www.thedoverlanemusicconference.in, end of January)
- Indian classical music and dance in Rabindra Sarovar (Rabindra Sarovar).
- Kolkata Fights Mela (Kolkata Boi Mela, www.kolkatabookfaironline.com, late January / early February) The largest book fair in Asia.
- Saraswati Puja (Saraswati Puja, early February) Prayers for good luck in school, everyone dresses in yellow.
- Rath Yatra (Rath Yatra, June / July) The main festival of Krishna's chariot, similar to the festival of Puri (Puri).
- Durga Puja (Durga Puja, www.durga-puja.org. October) The biggest holiday in Calcutta.
- Lakshmi Puja (Lakshmi Puja, full moon after Durga Puja) and Kali Puja (Diwali) At this time, locals plunge many more idols into the water.
- Calcutta Film Festival (www.kff.in, mid-November) Weekly Bengali and international film festival.
As the carnival transforms Rio or New Orleans, so Durga Puja makes Calcutta for some time even more vibrant and lively. The attraction of five days, people honor the brightly colored idols of the ten-armed goddess Durga and her entire retinue, exhibited in pandals (temporary temples)installed in yards, on roads and in parks. Over the past 30 years, pandals have appeared to the audience more and more sophisticatedly decorated and complex due to the competition between designers and the development of sponsorship. On some pandals you can see political slogans on topical issues. West Bengal Tourism is trying to show tourists the best pandals, but because of the chaos and the crowds, you can get to any part of the city for hours. The culmination of the celebration is when the myriads of Durga idols are dumped in the sacred river Hooghly, everyone sings around, doused with water, fireworks are launched and the number of people per square meter increases incredibly. If you want to photograph only the pandal, and not the holiday itself, come here immediately after Durga Puja, when all the idols have already been removed and the pandals have not yet been dismantled. Or come back here for the Kali Puja festival after three weeks, when Calcutta again displays idols everywhere, but this time the blue-faced and red-speaking Kali are everywhere. Similar holidays (puj) there are many here, so the chances of participating in them are great, whenever you come here.
Many Bengal diasporas return "home" during the celebration of Durga Puja, so the hotels of Calcutta are crowded at this time. After the holidays, the hotels become empty, but at the same time, locals begin to leave on vacation, so you may not be able to buy a return plane ticket within one to two weeks (a tourist quota for train tickets may turn out to be saving).
Food in Calcutta
Piquant Bengali cuisine with an abundance of fruits gravitates towards a sweet, rich touch of palm sugar, young daab coconut, malaikaii coconut milk and posto poppy seeds. Typical types of Bengal curry include light flavored coriander jhol, drier and spicy jhal and richer kalia with ginger. A strong mustard flavor is present in both shorshe curry and paturi dishes, which are stewed in banana leaves. Gobindobhogbnaat (steamed rice) or luchi (small cakes) - classic additions. More typical than meat or chicken (murgir)for this place chingri (river prawns) and great fish, especially white rh (rohu or indian carp), fat chital, bliekti cod and tasty, but full of ilish bones (hilsa). Great vegetarian options - mochar ghonto (a mixture of banana, potato and coconut inflorescences)doi begun (eggplant in thick sauce) and shukto (a favorite lunch appetizer, which includes at least five different vegetables mixed with milk sauce). Legends are made about Bengali desserts and sweets. The most characteristic - mishti dhoi (cottage cheese sweetened with palm sugar), rasgulla (balls from porous dough in syrup) and cham-cham (curd dessert).
Most restaurants in Calcutta include a 12.5% tax bill. Some of the best restaurants add a few more percent for the service. As for tips, they are welcome in cheap restaurants, and expensive ones are taken for granted. The Times Food Guide (www.timescity.com/kolkata, 100 rupees) You can read hundreds of restaurant reviews. Do not miss the opportunity to try Bengali cuisine. At its best, Bengali dishes will be a wonderful discovery for you, full of new names and tastes. In cheaper Bengal establishments, portions are often small (like t-pass snacks)so order two or three dishes with rice / rays and sweet khejur (chutney).
Do not miss
- The Indian Museum is the oldest museum in Asia.
- Victoria Memorial is a grandiose palace of white marble, which occupies a vast territory in the Maidan Park.
- College Street is the famous street where the largest second-hand book market in the world is located. Here you can buy the rarest books literally for a penny.
- The botanical garden where banyan grows, whose age is 250 years old and whose crown is the largest in the world.
- Calighat is a temple in whose honor it is said that Calcutta was named.
- Belur Math is the headquarters of the Order and Mission of Ramakrishna, a stunning example of Indian temple architecture.
Try a special Bengal food, wander around the messy corners, take a ferry ride on Hooghly, go on a motorbike tour in Calcutta, and if you have time, go on an excursion to Sundarbans (Sundarbans).
Cyber zoom (27V Park Street, 15 rupees per hour, 9 a.m. - 11 p.m.)
E-merge (iWay, 59V Park Street, 30 rupees per hour, 10: 30-21: 30 Monday-Saturday, 11: 30-21: 30 Sunday) Old cafe, but there is air conditioning and a quick connection.
Gorukh (7 Sadder Street, 20 rupees per hour, 8: 30-22: 30) Behind a fabric store. New flat screens, pleasant owners and vigilant security.
See a list of medical services at www.kolkatainformation.com/diagnostic. html and www.calcuttaweb.com/doctor.php. Eastern Diagnostics (135 Mirza Ghalib Street, 7: 30-20: 30) A medical consultation costs 200 rupees. Convenient if you are in the Sadder Street area.
ATMs are everywhere. Many private currency exchange offices are located in the vicinity of Sadder Street and offer to exchange currency at the exchange rate without taking into account the commission, that is, it is several percent more profitable than in banks. Some may cash traveler's checks. Usually the course is better on the corner of Mirza Ghalib Street. Go around and check courses. Remember that at the airport, exchange offices charge up to 5% tax / commission.
Globe forex (11 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 9: 30-18: 30 Monday-Friday, 9: 30-14: 30 Saturday) Exchange office in the center of Calcutta with unusually good rates for cash and traveller's checks.
To obtain any pass you need to have a passport, photos of the passport format and photocopies of pages with Indian visas and personal passport data. Aliens Registration Office (foreigners registration office, abbreviated FRO, 22837034, 237 AJC Bose Rd, 11: 00-17: 00 Monday-Friday) Issues limited passes for trips to Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh (except tawang) and Nagaland (only Mon and Phek) for 1395 rupees per person for one pass. A minimum group of four is usually required. Submit an application in two business days.
Indian citizens can get a special pass for internal travel in the offices of the following regions, but foreigners should not count on assistance in these organizations, except for a pass to Sikkim. Arunachal Pradesh (23341243, Arunachal Bhawan, Block CE 109, Sector 1, Salt Lake City) Manipur (24758163, Manipur Bhawan, 26 Rowland Rd) Mizoram (24617887, Mizoram Bhawan, 24 Old Ballygang Road) Take the side street for 23 Ashutosh Chowdhari Road (Ashutosh Chowdhury Ra). Nagaland (22825247, Nagaland House, 11 Shakespeare Sarani) Sikkim (22817905, Sikkim House, 4/1 Middleton Street, 10: 30-16: 00 Monday-Friday, 10: 30-14: 00 Saturday) Passes are free and are usually issued during the day.
Electro photo-lab (22498743, 14 Sadder Street, 10:00 a.m. 9:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 12 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday) Instant passport photo, movie processing, digital printing, recording to CD / DVD-camera.
If you are a foreigner, acquiring a SIM card can be a problem in most areas of Calcutta, but in the vicinity of Sadder Street in many stalls you will be sold a Vodafone card (155 rupees, including a loan of 49 rupees) if you provide one photo and a copy of your passport / visa .
Hazards and troubles
Calcutta is considered quite safe. A collision with beggars in the vicinity of the ghetto of travelers on Sadder Street is predictable, but the risk of getting into an unpleasant situation is minimal. More concern (daily) should cause a road crossing: crazy traffic leaves no chance for anyone. Bandhs (strikes) happen with enviable constancy, at this time shops close and all ground transportation stops (including a taxi that should take you to the airport). Floods during the rainy season are very unpleasant, but rickshaws somehow manage to carry passengers, making their way through the streets knee-deep in the water.
To the south of Calcutta stretches the vast territory of Sunderbans, an impenetrable mangrove forest that forms part of the world's largest delta of three rivers at once - the Ganges (Ganges)Brahmaputra (Brahmaputra) and Meghn (Meghna). This is a huge area, about 4264 km² in India alone, and most of it is in Bangladesh. 2585 km2 of Indian Sunderbans is India's largest national park and tiger reserve.
To / from the airport.
NSBIA Airport is 5 km east of Dum Dum (Dum dum), and to him 20 minutes by subway (6 rupees) from the center of Calcutta. Considering the underground work to expand and modernize the airport, be prepared for some changes in the route. Access to transport is now open at exit No. 1, 900 meters southeast of the terminals, where a complex of shops and hotels are being built, as well as at exit No. 2 on Jessore Road, about 400 meters northwest of the terminals. Please note that the lost property office at the airport does not work.
Suburban trains. Beeman Bandar (Biman Bandar) - This is a railway station at the airport, raised on concrete piles. From the international terminal to this station three minutes walk. Trains run only a few times a day, and on Sundays they do not go at all. From here you can leave for Sealdi at 10:45 p.m., Magerhat via the BHB Bagh suburban station at 7:40 a.m. and 1:54 p.m., and also to Majerhat via Ballygange at 10:40 a.m. and 18:45 p.m. These, as well as those departing at 6:30, stop at Doom Doom Junction, where you can take the metro. Do not confuse with Doom Doom Cantontance.
Taxi. A prepaid taxi at a fixed price from the airport to the Doom Dum / Sadder Street / Howrah metro costs 140/240/240 rupees. Pay before leaving the terminal, then go to the row of yellow cabs, ignoring the touts that come in your way. After 22:00 the number of such taxis in the parking lot is significantly reduced, and the remaining ones begin to increase prices.
Buses with air conditioning. New air-conditioned airport buses (40 rupees, about an hour) depart every half hour from the terminal area to the Esplanade bus station. There are less frequent flights to Tolligan (Tollygunge, bypassing) and Howrah.
The combination of metro bus. Cheaper (12 rupees), more often and sometimes faster than an airport bus, but if you have a lot of luggage, this is inconvenient. Walking along Jessore Road, Crowded Buses (going towards Babughat) and No. DN9 / 1 take about 25 minutes to get to Dum Dum metro station. To get to Jessore Road, walk 400 m northwest of the international terminal. Check that the Hindu temple and railway line on the stilts are on your left. Cross the construction area and the busy driveway, and then squeeze through a small gap in the walled complex of the airport, this hole is known as exit 2.5 and is located opposite the Shiva & Sons Airtel store. city buses. Minibus number 151 goes to the BBC Bagh, and a rather rare bus number 46 goes to Esplanade (7 rupees, 1 hour) by VIP Road. Both buses depart from exit No. 1 of the airport, which is 900 meters from the domestic flights terminal.
Bus and tram
Buckets filled with passengers with nuts crash past at an alarming speed, regardless of the density of never-absorbing traffic jams. In most cases, the bus / route number is written in a Western manner, even if the signs with the destination are different. Old worn trams are slower, but their route is strictly defined. You need to pay for the fare upon landing.
The fastest and most pleasant way to get from the center of Calcutta in Howrah (to the railway station) is to travel by river ferry (4 rupees, 8: 00-20: 00), which departs every 15 minutes from various marinas, including Bagbazar, Armenian (except Sunday)Fealai (Fairlie), Biche June and Babu Ghat. Ferry runs less frequently on Sundays.
In the vibrant subway of Calcutta (www.mtp.indianrailways.gov.in, 4-8 rupees, 7: 00-21: 45 Monday-Saturday, 14: 00-21: 45 Sunday)consisting of one line, trains run every 6-15 minutes. Now the metro line is being expanded to Dakshinesvar and to the airport, where, according to plan, the second line should be built (Howrah-Sealdah-Salt Lake). To get to Sadder Street, head off Esplanade or Park Street. Here, at the entrance, luggage is superficially checked. Theoretically, it is impossible to carry a bag heavier than 10 kg (and, unfortunately (probably for the same reason), you should not transport clarified butter, leaves and corpses of people). The platforms are equipped with TVs, and while you wait for the train, you can watch a movie. It is better not to go there during peak hours.
Calcutta is the last bastion of the tana-rickshaw, that is, the walking rickshaw pulling the stroller along with it. They are especially often seen in the New Market area. In the rainy season, rickshaws with high wheels are the most convenient means of transportation on the most flooded streets. Although walking rickshaws sometimes take disproportionate fees, the tip given to them will be warmly appreciated, since many of them are so poor that they have no shelters for sleeping and sleep on sidewalks, sitting under rented strollers.
Auto rickshaws take five passengers “on board” and work as joint taxis, setting fixed rates.
A convenient rail route for trains to travel approximately every hour is Sealdah Dum Dum Dakshineswar. During peak hours, this is only Kidderpor-BBD Bagh-Baghbazar-Chitpor-Dum Dum. See train schedules at http://erail.in/kolkatasuburbantrains.htm
The ubiquitous yellow ambassadors in Calcutta set a price of at least 22 rupees per 1.9 km. Make sure the counter is on. (it’s usually easier to stop a passing taxi than to look for it in the parking lot)but be sure that what he shows does NOT mean the amount you will have to pay. To calculate the cost of a short trip, double the number you see on the counter and add a couple of rupees. For long trips, the amount should be underestimated by a few rupees, so double-check yourself on the driver's conversion chart or ask for a printout of the rates. Prices increase after 22:00.
Be prepared for the fact that at about 13:00 on many urban one-way roads, the direction of movement changes! It is not surprising that many taxi drivers are reluctant to agree to go somewhere at this time.
There are taxi prepaid ticket offices at Howrah and Sealdah stations, as well as at both airport terminals, but at night such a taxi is very difficult to find.
Road to Calcutta and back
A detailed and almost accurate timetable for trains and flights is printed in the Graphiti supplement of the Telegraph newspaper every Sunday.
Long Distance Flights from Netaji Subhash Bose International Airport (NSBIA, www.nscbiairport.org) include flights to Frankfurt (Lufthansa) and london (Air India, 22114433, 39, Chittaranjan Ave, 10: 00-18: 30 Monday-Saturday). Alternatively, you can fly through Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok or Dhaka. If you need to China, use the services of China Eastern Airlines (40448887, InterGlobe, 2nd floor, Landmark Bldg, 228A AJC Bose Rd) - flights to (or through) Kunming (Kunming)Yunnan (Yunnan). Druk air (22902429, 4th floor 51 Tivoli Court, 1A Belligange Circular Road) flies to Paro (Paro) and bhutan (Bhutan), but for this you will need to arrange the formalities in advance. The Consulate of Bhutan is located in the same building.
Most carriers sell tickets online, but in the case of Bangladesh Airlines, it will be useful to visit the agency or directly contact the airline’s office:
- Biman (22266672, www.biman-airlines.com, 7th floor, 99A Park Street)
- GMG (30283030, www.gmgairlines.com, 20H Park Street)
- United airways bangladesh (9007095363, www.uabdl.com, Ripon Street)
From time to time, ferries depart for Port Blair (Andaman Islands) from the pier Kiaderpore Docks (Karl Marx Sarani), you can go to exit number 3 opposite the Kidderpor suburban train station (Kidderpore). Tickets (from 1700 to 7640 rupees) go on sale 10 days from departure. They can be bought at Shipping Corporation of India (22484921, Hare St, 10: 00-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00 Monday-Friday).
Several agencies at Marquis St organize flights to Bangladesh, including changing transport on the Benapol border. (Benapol). Shonagh paribahan (22520757, 21A Marquis St, 5: 00-22: 30) daily sends 10 buses to Dhaka (720/520 rupees with air conditioning / without air conditioning, 13 hours). GreenLine Buses (22520571, 12V Marquis St, 4: 00-22: 30) go to dhaka (750 rupees, 13 hours, 5:30 and 19:00)Chittagong (1150 rupees, 22 hours, 13:00) and sylhet (1150 rupees, 18 hours, 5:30).
State Bhutan Postal Bus Departing to Phuentsholing (Phuentsholmg, 350 rupees, 22 hours, 19:00 Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) from the side courtyard of the Esplanade bus station, where there is a special ticket office (9: 30-13: 00 and 14: 00-18: 00 Monday-Saturday).
The largest bus station in the city is Esplanade. From here, there are many city flights and flights throughout the state from CSBC. Here you can find a bus in the direction of Sikkim. For a trip to Odisha (Odisha, or Orissa) Choose the Babughat station next to the Gardens of Eden.
To travel to Darjeeling or Sikkim, select one of the night buses traveling to Siliguri (Siliguri, 325 to 700 rupees, 12 hours), they depart between 18:00 and 20:00. To Maldu (Malda) CSTC buses go at 7: 00.8: 30.9: 30, 10:45 and 20:15 (143 rupees, 9 hours), tickets for these flights can be booked in two weeks.
Buses line up in front of the Eden Gardens suburban station and offer night trips to Ranchi (Ranchi, from 170 rupees, 10 hours) and puri (Puri, 370 rupees, 12 hours) via Bhubaneswar (Bhubaneswar, 320 rupees, 9 hours). Dolphin (www.odishabusservice.com) throws only 50 rupees for places in sleeping buses. Most buses depart at approximately 20:30, but arrive at 17:00 if you have luggage.
To get to Dhaka (Bangladesh)take a seat at Maitree Express (II / CC / 1AC 348/522/869 rupees, 12.5 hours)that leaves from Kolkata station (Cheetpor) at 7:10 on Saturdays and Wednesdays and returns from Dhaka Cantonment at 8:30 on Tuesday and Sunday. Your Bangladeshi Visa Must Have a Darsan Seal (Darsana). Buy tickets 10 days earlier at a special box office (10: 00-17: 00 Monday-Tuesday, 10: 00-15: 00 Friday and Saturday, 10: 00-14: 00 Sunday) at the office for foreign tourists (Eastern Railways' Foreign Tourist Bureau, 222224206, 6 Fairlie PI). There are no round-trip tickets.
Before you buy your ticket, check the "train between stations" section on indianrail.gov.in to see if there are still tickets left for the quota for foreign tourists (using the Enter Quota line). If there are, go to the office for foreign tourists (22224206, 6 Fairlie Р1.10: 00-17: 00 Monday-Saturday, 10: 00-14: 00 Sunday) and take a book with you to read - it may happen that you have to wait a long time, sitting on the sofa. Computerized Ticket Office (Koilaghat St, 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Sunday) It offers tickets for more routes, but does not provide tourist quotas. Travel agencies on Sadder Street can help you save the trip and sometimes find tickets at full cost, but before buying, always find out what percentage of the commission they have.
Check which station your long train leaves from: Howrah (or Laura, Haora, HWH), Sealdah (SDAH) or Kolkata (Chippor, KOAA).
Calcutta on a world map
Before you begin to consider the historical, natural, cultural and other features of Calcutta, you should pay attention to the geographical location of the city. This will give a general idea of climate, flora, fauna. So, where is Calcutta, what is its latitude and longitude?
The geographic coordinates of the city are 22 ° 48′00 ″ s. w. 88 ° 22′00 ″ in It is located in eastern India in the Ganges delta. Altitude - 1.5 - 9 meters.
Previously, the territory of Calcutta was mostly swampy. But, human efforts were not in vain - in just a few decades, it was possible to turn the area into a habitable one. About 12.5 thousand hectares remained swamps. According to the Ramsar Convention, they were recognized as objects of international importance.
The Bureau of Indian Standards recognized the area of the city as seismically hazardous. On a 5-point scale, he has a rating of 3.
Weather and climate
In general, the climate of Calcutta is quite comfortable for those who like warmth all year round.
Calcutta has a tropical climate, so wet and hot summers are typical of this area. In July, August and September, the highest rainfall occurs. Temperature can often reach 30ºС. In winter it is quite cool - 9-11ºС. If you analyze, then in general, the coolest month is January. The hottest is May.
The maximum temperature that has ever been recorded in the territory of Calcutta was 45 ° C. Minimum - 3ºС.
The nature of Calcutta is a cozy house for a large number of representatives of flora and fauna, which is why the nature of this area can be called picturesque and very attractive.
All this diversity is due to the location of the city, because near the river the most favorable conditions are for many plants, birds, mammals to find their refuge here.
According to the 2011 census, in Calcutta approximately 4.5 million people. In the urban agglomeration, consisting of a cluster of nearby small towns, there are more than 14 million inhabitants. Note that total area of the city is 185 km².
If you consider ratio of the number of men and women, then it looks like this - 1000: 899. The fact that there are more men is explained by their massive arrival to earn money from nearby rural areas. By the way, it is worth noting that in Calcutta, the literacy rate is higher than that of the general Indian (87.14 compared to 74%). So this is a city with sufficiently educated residents.
The largest population is Bengalis.. Other nationalities live in the city, which are in the minority: Parsis, Punjabis, Tamils, Nepalese, Chinese, Tibetans, Greeks, Armenians, etc. The number of representatives of some nations living in Calcutta has recently decreased significantly. For example, Jews, who were around 5 thousand here before the Second World War, lived in the city only 25 in 2013. This is because, after the creation of Israel, many Jews emigrated from India. There is also a Chinese city in eastern Calcutta. If earlier it consisted of approximately 20 thousand Chinese, then in 2009 there were only 2 thousand of them left.
Since Bengalis prevail here, most often in Calcutta you can hear the Bengali language. English is spoken mainly by so-called “white-collar workers” with well-paid jobs. A very small part of the population speaks Urdu, Hindi and other languages.
Regarding the religious issue, then most residents profess Hinduism. About 20% is Islam. Compared to other major cities in India, there is a fairly low crime rate..
A third of the total population, according to 2003 data, live in slums. Those slums that are officially registered and have sewage, water supply and garbage are removed from them can be divided into two types. First - residents live on the land of the owners with whom they entered into a lease. The second - refugees from Bangladesh live in them. But, there are third slums that are unauthorized. They are located along the main roads, railways, canals. They do not have water and sanitation. People live in unsanitary conditions, endangering their health.
Calcutta has a well-developed transport system, so both local and tourists can choose from different options for transportation methods.
Electric trains run through the whole city. For the price and conditions, this is a pretty good transport. With their help, you can get to almost anywhere in Calcutta. Riding an electric train is even an exciting adventure. The fact that the cars have an interesting feature - they do not have doors. In addition, singers often go by train and sing national songs, asking for money for this.
The second most popular transport in Calcutta is the subway. It can also be reached in any part of the city, as the metro line runs through its entire territory. Interestingly, there are special places for women in the cars. Men are forbidden to sit in such places.
Walk around the city and buses.It’s not very convenient to move in them, as traffic jams are often formed on the roads, which sometimes makes them stand idle for a long time.
Another feature of Calcutta is that it is the only city in all of India where there are trams. But, keep in mind that in the rainy season, trams do not run in some areas due to flooding.
Purely Asian modes of transport are also popular - cycle rickshaws (a bicycle stroller whose driver pedals it) and motor rickshaws (a modified motor scooter with a roof).
The most convenient, but also the most expensive way to get to the right point in Calcutta is to use a taxi.
How to get to Calcutta
You can get to and from Calcutta by various means of transport from other cities.
- Plane. Netaji Subhash Bose Airport has long flights from London and Frankfurt. You can also fly through Singapore, Dhaka, Dubai or Bangkok. Air tickets can be purchased online on the websites of carrier companies. But, if you choose Bangladesh Airlines, it is better to contact their office directly or visit the agency. Find out also how to buy plane tickets cheaper.
- Bus. For some, this will be the most preferable option, although it may not be so convenient and fast. Different carriers provide the right to choose. You can go to Bangladesh on one of the flights. Transport will have to be changed at the Benapol border. GreenLine organizes trips to Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet. Shonagh Paribahan transports to Dhaka on ten buses.
You can also take the state-owned Bhutanese bus. He leaves from Phuensholing, from Esplanade - the largest bus station in the city. At the side yard you can buy tickets at a special box office.
Those who want to go to Sikkim or Darjeeling can do this on one of the night buses that travel to Siliguri.
- Ferry. Ferries to Port Blair, located in the Andaman Islands, periodically depart from Karl Marx Sarani Pier. Tickets appear on sale 10 days before the departure date.
- Train. You can get to Dhaka by train. To do this, take the Maitree Express at Kolkata Station. He walks from here on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7:10, and returns from Dhaka Cantonment on Tuesdays and Sundays at 8:30. Just keep in mind that your visa must have the seal of Darsan. Sale of train tickets starts 10 days before departure. You can buy them at the office of foreign tourists. There are no tickets on both sides. Go to indianrail.gov.in and check if tickets are still available for foreign tourists under the quota.
As you can see, you can get to Calcutta and back by different means of transport. The most desperate adventure lovers even set off on their own by car.
Now let's get to the point of particular interest to tourists - the sights of the glorious city of Calcutta. And there are a lot of them! Therefore, we will pay attention to the most important and colorful.
- Kali Temple in Calcutta. This temple is the most popular in India. To visit Calcutta, and not to visit the temple of the goddess to whom this city is dedicated, is very strange. The temple was erected in the XIX century. It is made in gray and white colors. Its height is about 10 meters, and its tops are decorated with domes, which are somewhat reminiscent of the domes of Orthodox cathedrals. Terrible rumors are circulating that human sacrifices have been made here just recently. They also say that there are sect of stranglers (thag) who are engaged in this, that they kill and rob in order to appease the goddess Kali. So whether it is or not, the temple is still worth a visit.
- Howrah Bridge Its construction began in 1937 and lasted 6 years. In 1965, it was renamed in honor of the Indian poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore (he lived in Calcutta) and began to be called "Rabindraseto."It is thrown over the Hooghli River and connects Calcutta with the industrial district of Howrah. The bridge looks epoch-making, so the city residents are incredibly proud of it. On it you can not only drive cars, but also walk, which makes a huge number of people daily.
- Vedic resort. It is an ideal place for those who want to relax, gain strength and experience the traditional Bengali atmosphere. This village is built on the shores of a beautiful lake, and cozy bungalows await guests. Everywhere - pristine nature that you want to enjoy forever. And all this is organically combined with quality service.
- Victoria Memorial. It is located in the south of the city on a hill. Made of white marble, it is really amazing: during the day, when you can carefully examine it, and at night, when it is highlighted, why it looks mysterious. This memorial is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign. The attraction is surrounded by artificial rivers and gardens, Italian sculptures stand above the entrance. Today, the palace is a museum and is considered an important property of the city.
- Bad Bazaar. If you need to buy something, you love shopping and want to get to know more about the flavor of West Bengal, go to Bad Bazaar. Here you can buy absolutely everything - from food to jewelry.
If time allows, you should definitely visit Fort William and Maiden, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Birla Planetarium, and the Botanical Garden.
In Calcutta, the food is very diverse - in the best traditions of Indian cuisine. Spicy, sweet, sour, sometimes burning - it is just like that. Vegetarians will always be provided with many dishes to choose from: a mixture of potatoes, banana blossoms and coconuts (mochar ghonto), eggplant in thick sauce (doi begun), a snack with at least five vegetables in milk sauce (shukto). Traditional Bengal curry is seasoned with coriander, ginger and other spices.
Even in Bengali cuisine there are dishes of fish and meat. Its irreplaceable element is fish curry with rice, seasoned with sweet yogurt or desserts of sandesh and rasgull. An important feature of Calcutta cuisine is a variety of fish dishes.
On the streets you can always buy some interesting and tasty food. There are a lot of it: rolls with meat or vegetables (katri roll), pieces of fried eggplant (beguni), pancakes with tamarind sauce (pluchka), etc.
Calcutta will especially please the sweet tooth. After all it was here that many popular Indian goodies were invented. The most delicious are balls of light dough in syrup (rasgulla), sweet cottage cheese with palm sugar (mishti dhoi), and cottage cheese dessert (cham-cham).
Bengali cuisine is worth a try. An extravaganza of taste, playing with different notes, is provided.
When to go to get to the main holidays?
The best way to get to know a country or its individual region, to feel its flavor is to see with your own eyes how the main holidays are held. There will be something to see in Calcutta:
- In late January, a music conference called Dover Lane takes place.
- In Rabindra Sarovar you can listen to Indian classical music and see national dances.
- From late January to early February, the largest book fair in Asia is held - Kolkata Fights Mela.
- In early February, the celebration of Saraswati Puja takes place, during which they pray for good luck in their studies. All dress up in yellow.
- In June-July, a grandiose celebration of the Ratha Yatra takes place. It is similar to the Puri festival and is dedicated to the chariot of Krishna.
- In October, tourists can see the most important and most impressive holiday of Calcutta - Durga Puja. It is held in honor of the ten-armed goddess Durga. Temporary temples (pandals) and idols are erected everywhere. Every year they are decorated more and more brightly and sophisticatedly. It all looks incredibly colorful, lively and remembered for a lifetime.
- On the festival of Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja, dedicated to the goddess of plenty and blessing, as well as the Mother Goddess, a large number of idols are dipped in water.
- Indian movie buffs will surely enjoy the Calcutta Weekly Film Festival. It is organized in mid-November. It demonstrates both Bengali and international films.
In Calcutta it will be interesting all year round. There is always something to see.
Holiday Durga Puja
If you are among those who decided to visit Calcutta, you need to carefully prepare for the trip. First of all - information. Here are some suggestions:
- West Bengal has a tropical climate. That's why the hottest period in Calcutta is from April to September. If you do not like and badly tolerate the heat, postpone the trip for the period from October to March. It is the most favorable in terms of weather conditions.
- Calcutta is a completely safe city. The ghetto travelers in Sadder Street may have beggars. Usually they do not carry any threat, but they can somewhat unbalance their obsession.
- You must cross roads very carefully. The traffic on them is just crazy.
- Keep in mind that strikes in Calcutta are not uncommon. Because of them, shops may close, and ground movement also stops. So if you need to take a taxi to the airport at such a time, problems can arise.
- In the rainy season, floods are not uncommon. But, rickshaws are used to transporting passengers even in such weather, moving along the streets knee-deep in the water.
- I would definitely recommend a ride on the Calcutta tram. They have been walking here for more than 130 years and are, although old, but very attractive. Thanks to 36 tram lines and four hundred trams, you can get almost anywhere. By the way, Calcutta is the only city in India where there are trams, so it is a real pride of the whole country.
- Before entering the religious building, you need to take off your shoes, and women also cover their head with a scarf.
- The Bengal region is a haven for paradise. Here you can taste amazing sweets by buying them in numerous stores. One of the most popular delicacies in Bengal is the cottage cheese dessert sandesh and rasgull.
- Although safe here, keep an eye on your paperwork and money.
- Watch your speech, do not speak in high voices, treat with respect.
Calcutta is a city in which everything is harmonious. Beautiful nature, favorable climatic conditions, interesting sights, good-natured people, And even if there are any drawbacks, they fade against the background of Indian color and originality.
Brief historical background
In 1690, the representative of the British East India Company, Job Charnock, arrived on the Hoogley River and built a fort in West Bengal, this moment is considered the foundation of the city. After 80 years, the city turned into the capital of British India and maintained this high status for almost a hundred and a half years.
Some of the monuments from the time of colonial rule have survived to our days. But be that as it may, Kolkata became famous not only because of the actions of the British. Unfortunately, the history of the city is not filled only with happy events. Once Mother Teresa came to this city, she was shocked by the suffering and poverty of the townspeople, once the city was even called a “black hole” due to overpopulation by poor Indians. During the Second World War, the city was severely damaged by the bombing, and later there was an economic crisis.
However, since the 90s of the last century, the country's authorities decided to "raise the city from the ashes." Now it is a large political center, it has developed culture and education. The city is now inhabited mainly by Bengalis. The most widely used language is Bengali.The name "city of joy", which was once given to Kolkata with sarcastic overtones, can now be fully applied to the city without cynicism.
Brief geographical information and climate
Kolkata is the most significant settlement in eastern India. Kolkata - the capital of West Bengal, it is located on the banks of the Hooghli River, in the Ganges delta. The city was literally built on drained swamps. The climate of Kolkata is tropical, with hot and humid summers, when the air temperature is approximately 30 degrees Celsius. In winter, the average air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius. The hottest month is May and the coldest is January. Most precipitation is in August, during this period monsoons pass. They bring a lot of rainfall to the city from May to October.
Visa for Russians
In order to visit India in 2019, Russians need to get a visa. However, making it easy enough. The first option is via the Internet, the application is submitted in advance, the visa opens for 30 days. If the trip exceeds such a number of days, then the procedure will become somewhat more complicated, but the tourist visas in general are issued by the Indians willingly. A visa can be issued at the official diplomatic institution of India, as well as through travel agencies.
Travel Planning in Kolkata: Transport and Accommodation
The lowest cost of the tour for 5 nights is 25,000 rubles. A tour for 7-10 nights will cost about 36,000 rubles. The price of this tour includes: air travel, transfer, hotel accommodation, some guided tours, medical insurance. However, if you want to plan your trip yourself, the following information will come in handy.
How to get there
The city has an airport, so it is quite possible to get there with a transfer from Moscow. If you plan your trip in advance, an air flight to Kolkata in the summer of 2019 will cost about 15,000 rubles per person. The city can be reached by taxi, paying about 500 rubles, as well as by rail. There are trams and a subway in the city, a trip on the latter will be an inexpensive pleasure, but also very doubtful, since the subway is not so comfortable. You can also travel by taxi, but only the most experienced drivers should rent a car, since not all locals observe the rules of the road in the country.
Where to stay?
The hotel infrastructure of Kolkata is colorful, like all of beautiful India. So, very economical tourists can find a hostel in the city at a price of literally 300 rubles per day for one person. There are also a large number of slightly more comfortable guest houses, the average cost of living per day for one - in the region of 1000-1500 rubles. You can find apartments, however, the price range is amazing: from 500 to 5000 rubles per night - depending on what you expect from the place of stay. Finally, the city has a very extensive network of hotels, both marked with stars and without them. A hotel with three or four stars can be found from about 3000 per day, which is interesting, the price range in five-star hotels is also striking: from 4000 to 12000 rubles per person per day. There are also exotic offers such as living in a local family. Therefore - look and choose what will be better for you and within your trip.
I must say that a simple walk in Kolkata will already be very exciting and informative. Due to the huge number of Europeans who at one time founded the city and were in it, the development of the city is very colorful. Here you can see Gothic and Romanesque styles, and Baroque, and, of course, buildings in the traditional Indian style.
The Indian Museum founded in 1814 is considered one of the oldest in all of Asia. There you can see works of art, household items, and archaeological finds.Kolkata also has the country's largest National Library, it was founded back in 1836, and the University of Kolkata built in 1857 is the oldest in the country.
The ancient fort William is, in fact, the very fortress with which the city began. Until now, the building is used for army purposes, but this does not stop tourists from looking at it. It is rarely allowed inside, but nothing will hinder from the outside.
The Victoria Memorial is a huge snow-white palace, built in honor of the British Queen at the beginning of the 20th century. Now there is the Historical Museum, where you can learn all about the times of British India, and next to the building there is a beautiful garden, and at night it is sometimes highlighted with all the colors of the rainbow, representing a wonderful subject for admiring.
Those who want to touch the nature of India should look into the Kolkata Botanical Garden. It was founded in the 18th century and is still standing. The garden is quite wild, the authorities preserve the pristine natural beauty. More than 10,000 plants can be seen in this marvelous corner, among them as beautiful as water lilies and orchids. Also in the garden you can see cute birds and chipmunks.
Fans of Hindu temples should definitely visit the temple of the goddess Kali, which was built in the middle of the 19th century. It was here that the famous preacher Ramakrishna spent many years, and therefore many pilgrims aspire here. The Belur Math temple is notable for its interesting architecture: elements of Buddhist temple architecture, a Christian temple and a mosque are fantastically interwoven in the building. St. Paul's Cathedral is already an Anglican church, built in the style of luxurious Gothic architecture with an abundance of bizarre carvings and decorative elements.
Engineering is actively developing in India, and Kolkata is considered the engineering center of India. Therefore, lovers of modern technology and science should definitely visit the Birl Technological Museum. This museum keeps track of time, the exposition is constantly updated, showing visitors the latest achievements of Indian science and technology. By the way, about the miracle of engineering: when walking around Kolkata, it is worth taking a look at the "busiest bridge in the world" - the console building of Howra Bridge.
There are various religious centers near Kolkata, for example, the Mahabodhi Mandir Temple, Pavapuri and Gaia, which are sacred places for followers of Jainism, the Bo tree in the city of Bodhgaya and the Sikh temples that stand in Patna. In addition, you can visit Darjeeling, which is a famous resort region.
Finally, in Kolkata you can visit the zoo with a charming lake, and many gardens, among which are the gardens of the Eden sisters, and the interesting Birla planetarium. In general, the abundance of places for every taste is simply amazing!
Things to do in Kolkata
Since Kolkata was once the capital of British India, today it can be considered the center of culture, art, education and science. In addition, Bengali literature is very developed in Kolkata. Many famous Indian writers lived and created their creations in Kolkata. Therefore, be sure to go to one of the largest book fairs on the planet - Kolkata Book Fair, where presentations of new books and their sale are held.
Bengali art and music are also highly developed in the city. Concerts are constantly held, there are theater performances, although most of the performances are in Bengali (but this does not hurt to enjoy their colorfulness). Cinemas can be found along Chowringa Street, next to the New Market. There you will be able to watch the latest movies in English. All cinemas have air conditioning. The most famous and popular are Lighthouse, Chaplin, Elite. The Nandan Cinema has 3 rooms, as well as a library and archives.
You can find out all about the cultural life of Kolkata by reading Cal Calling and Calcutta This Fortnight. The city loves cricket (left over from the British), as well as football.In Kolkata, the Yuva Bharati Krirangan Stadium is located, it is the second largest stadium on the entire planet.
Of course, where without Indian food. In Kolkata, a tourist can find an institution for every taste and wallet size. You can find points with European food, but it will be much more interesting to try Indian food: expanse for vegetarians from legumes and vegetables, chicken tandoori for meat eaters, and almost everything is seasoned with curry. The cost of a snack in an inexpensive institution will be approximately 250 rubles for one, lunch for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost about 800 rubles.
In Kolkata there are a sufficient number of large shopping centers and complexes, therefore, if desired, you can go shopping there. However, small authentic shops and markets will also offer you color, as well as the opportunity to purchase souvenirs at an affordable price. What can I bring with me from Kolkata? It could be:
- bronze product,
- Indian silk and clothing from it,
- incense and oil,
- set of spices - masala,
- Ayurvedic cosmetics
- noble wood products sandalwood,
- wool shawl
- tea, rum and a local analogue of cigarettes - bidi.
The article tells only about part of the beauties and sights of Kolkata. In fact, it all depends on the duration of the trip, as well as on the goal - whether you are interested in feeling the real life of the city or plunging into its past, being closer to nature or admiring high technology - in any case, Kolkata is now really able to bring tourists joy and only joy , so be sure to go on vacation to Kolkata in 2019!
You can still enjoy Kolkata in the video:
Calcutta (since 2001 - Kolkata) is the capital of West Bengal, a large Indian state located in the eastern part of the country. Included in the 10 largest cities on the planet, is the second largest metropolis of India. The majority of the population, with a total population of up to 5 million, are Bengalis. It is their language that is considered the most common here.
The tourist, who was in this city for the first time, Calcutta causes a very mixed impression. Poverty and wealth go hand in hand, the luxurious architecture of the colonial era contrasts sharply with unsightly slums, and the elegantly dressed Bengal aristocrats - with merchants and barbers living right on the street.
Be that as it may, Kolkata is the cultural heart of modern India. Here is the country's best golf course, more than 10 universities, countless colleges, schools and institutes, many old gentleman's clubs, a huge racecourse, several museums and galleries, as well as offices of major international companies and much more. The main areas of the city are distinguished by a well-organized infrastructure and excellent transport links, operating both within the city limits and beyond.
And Calcutta is the only place in India where rickshaws are still allowed. Not motorcycle or bicycle, but the most ordinary ones - those who run on the ground and pull a cart with people. Despite the hellish labor and scanty pay, they continue to carry numerous tourists who come to this unusual and many-sided city.
The history of Kolkata began in 1686, when an English entrepreneur Job Charnock arrived in the quiet village of Calikatu, which existed in the Ganges River delta from time immemorial. Deciding that this place was ideal for the new British colony, he laid here a miniature copy of London with wide boulevards, Catholic churches and picturesque gardens, crammed into strict geometric shapes. However, a beautiful fairy tale quickly ended on the outskirts of the newly-minted city, where Indians serving the British lived in crowded slums.
The first blow to Calcutta was inflicted in 1756, when it was conquered by the Navab of neighboring Murshidabad. However, after a long fierce struggle, the city was not only returned to the British, but also turned into the official capital of British India. In subsequent years, the fate of Calcutta evolved differently - it either went through a new round of its development, or remained in complete contention and desolation. The civil war for independence and the unification of West and East Bengal did not bypass this city. True, after these events, the British quickly moved the colonial capital to Delhi, depriving Calcutta of political power and seriously affecting its economy. However, even then the city managed to get out of the financial crisis and regain its former position.
In the early 2000s, Calcutta received not only another name - Kolkata, but also a new administration, which is distinguished by a more friendly attitude to business. In this regard, numerous hotels, shopping, business and entertainment centers, catering establishments, residential skyscrapers and other infrastructure elements began to appear on its streets.
Nowadays, Kolkata, populated by representatives of various nationalities, continues to actively develop, trying to eradicate the prevailing opinion among Europeans about total poverty and desolation.
When planning to visit Kolkata in India, take note of a few useful tips:
- Going on vacation in spring or summer, stock up with enough repellents. There are a lot of mosquitoes, in addition, most of them are carriers of malaria and dengue fever.
- Catching a yellow taxi at rush hour is extremely difficult. Faced with a similar problem, do not be afraid to turn to a policeman for help.
- Sitting in the car, immediately say that you want to go on the counter. The latter should be set to 10.
- Despite the fact that the city of Calcutta is one of the safest places in India, it is better to keep money and documents closer to the body.
- Do not forget to wash your hands before eating and drink only bottled water - this will protect you from intestinal infections.
- Street toilets Kolkata is absolutely not suitable for women, so do not waste time in vain - it is better to go to a cafe, a cinema or any other public institution right away.
- It is better to buy silk saris, ethnic jewelry, clay figures and other souvenirs in the markets - there they are many times cheaper.
- In order not to mess with warm things, leave them in the airport's luggage room.
- When deciding to move around the city on your own or rented transport, remember that the traffic here is left-hand, and on some roads it is also one-way. In this case, first it is directed in one direction, and then in the opposite direction.
- Even in comfortable 4 * hotels of Calcutta, there may not be any change of bed linen and towels - when booking a room in advance, do not forget to check this information with the administrator.
Walking along the streets of Calcutta, visiting the cafe:
Posted by: Olga Sheyko
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